Milan Fashion Walking Tour and Workshop

June 1, 2019, Milan, Italy

Thoughts Heading Into the Day

I am not thrilled about another walking tour, but I am excited about the workshop.  However, since the Armani Silos were so interesting maybe this walking tour in Milan will be too.  I am hoping whatever we do in the workshop will help rejuvenate us and be relaxing as well as a learning experience.   

Walking Tour

While the walking tour was not very exciting, our tour guide, Paula, was a marketing executive for fashion so she had a commercial point of view, which I found interesting and enjoyed listening to.  

She told us that Italy is so famous for fashion because it has a different niche—an area of experts. In other words, manufacturing works for private labels in Italy because of craftsmanship.  I liked hearing that manufacturers in Italy care about the “details.” 

Paula took us to retail stores and explained why they are popular.  I liked the Emilio Pucci store that had the historical 1960-1970’s geometric patterns in their dresses and scarves. We learned that the same geometric pattern that was used in 1967 was also used in 2007.  A picture of these two dresses were in a book laid open on the table. I also loved the men’s cashmere jacket she showed us at Kiton’s.  It was actually handsewn in places and was beautiful. 

Workshop with Fiorella Ciaboco 

The workshop with Haute Couture master tailor Fiorella Ciaboco was AMAZING!  She only spoke Italian and our guide translated.  She was very funny and very frank, your typical Italian.  I LOVED listening to her.  I was imagining my ancestors the whole time I listened to her.  

Fiorella went over fittings, fabrics, and pattern making.  She had us try on different garments and talk about how they should fit and how to change them to look more fashionable.  For instance, we learned that we could add shoulder pads to make a long jacket look more fashionable.  She knew her fabrics and had us touch them as she identified them.  This was a nice review from what I learned in my Textiles class.  

But the most impressive thing Fiorella did was create a pattern for a dress right before our eyes. She had given us each a piece of paper and had us sketch a dress we would like to wear.  Then she picked one of our sketches and created the pattern for that dress while we watched.  My friend Eleina was the lucky girl.  I was mesmerized at how quickly and easily Fiorella did it.  I struggled with pattern making and wondered if it would ever be that easy for me.  I was dumbfounded at how she measured, made darts, and altered the pattern in just minutes. I think all of us were.  Fiorella also talked to us while she made this pattern and told us the important things we should know when creating patterns:

  • Know the interpretation of the drawing
  • Get inspiration in your mind by fantasizing about the drawing or the fabric
  • Know the body – e.g. long waist, short waist
  • Know how to measure and what the standard measurements are 
  • Know how to cut
  • Get the first sketch 90% perfect to the pattern
  • Put perfect pattern on tissue first then put it on oak tag paper            

Takeaways From the Day

What our tour guide taught us about craftsmanship in Italy and the expertise of a craftsman making a difference in the fashion market is true.  I saw that with own eyes while watching Fiorella Ciaboco create a pattern. Hearing it is one thing, but seeing excellent craftsmanship brings it to a whole new level.  It’s mesmerizing and amazing. This appointment reminds me of the craftsmanship we saw at Ecole Lesage and the Pierotucci Leather Factory. These are some of the favorite appointments on this study abroad.    

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