Valextra AW20: VALEXTRA EXTRA MILANO
22 February 2020, Milan Fashion Week
Discover Valextra EXTRA MILANO, a collaborative project by six extraordinary Milanese brands.
The eclectic and diverse group includes six names that transcend nationality, age and gender: SUNNEI, Carolina Castiglioni’s PLAN C, Arthur Arbesser, JJ Martin’s La Double J, Massimo Alba and VALEXTRA.
EXTRA MILANO is a celebration of the community of independent thinkers and creative entrepreneurs who together are shaping Milan, embodying the diverse style of the city and its culture of spontaneous, selfless collaboration.
EXTRA MILANO recognizes that the cross pollination of ideas and know-how among Milanese businesses is not a contrived marketing concept, but the way things have always been done: an innate system that has contributed to making this city so resilient and successful.
The six capsule collections demonstrate VALEXTRA’s holistic drive towards beauty, quality, functionality and innovation, combining tradition and contemporary inspirations to represent the new generation’s spirit. The hidden entryways of the city’s historic buildings, the bold geometric vintage patterns and colour palettes typical of the area’s silk-weaving traditions, a child’s drawings and the legendary, innate elegance of Milanese men and women all served as inspirations for the designers’ pieces.
During the presentation, the collections were represented by individual creative installations conceived by each designer and curated by VALEXTRA; a concept that will be further articulated worldwide throughout 2020.
Each capsule collection will be released at a different time: La Double J in May, SUNNEI in June, VALEXTRA in July, PLAN C in September, Arthur Arbesser in October and Massimo Alba in November.
A limited edition of 10 pieces per bag will be available for sale exclusively through selected VALEXTRA stores.
Founded in 1937, Valextra is quintessentially Milanese in style and values. Milan is the city where the brand creates and produces its iconic leather wonders. Inspired by architecture and design, craftmanship and innovation, Valextra has always brought together communities of independent thinkers, and after years of collaborations with international design talents, in 2020 Valextra celebrates its Milanese legacy.
This new project emphasizes the power of bringing together the multiple forces of this remarkable city, to maintain an independent voice and prosper in an increasingly challenging world dominated by giant conglomerates and turmoiled by macro-economic and political instability. “VALEXTRA is about mastering beauty, quality, functionality and innovation but also about contributing to the system,” says the company’s CEO, Sara Ferrero. “With EXTRA MILANO, we are not only making beautiful products, but also drawing attention to the value of supporting the people and the brands that we respect and care about. EXTRA MILANO is not a bilateral collaboration; it’s a 6-way dialogue, and most importantly, it involves product, business and ultimately sharing of know-how and connections”.
The presentation of Valextra’s collection features bags inspired by the amazing doorsteps of Milanese buildings, a symbol of the social encounters that happen informally in every home. These are shown alongside the marble vases by Milan-based designer Patricia Urquola for Budri, and unpublished photos from the book Entryways of Milan (by Taschen), a project by old time Valextra friend and collaborator, photographer Delfino Sisto Legnani.
LA DOUBLE J
J.J. Martin launched La DoubleJ in 2015, 14 years after moving to Milan to pursue her career in journalism. She combines the spirituality and optimism of her native California and the street-smart strategy of New York with the ultimate refinement of Italy’s culture and style.
That’s why working with VALEXTRA has been an easy choice for the California native, who has adopted Milan as her home for the last 19 years. “Valextra is one of those totally solid, shining and beautiful, classic Italian brands that exude understated elegance, incredible craftsmanship and outrageous quality,” says J.J. Martin. Choosing to work with the Tric Trac bag also came naturally to her. “It doesn’t look like any bag that would be designed today, but at the same time it’s so modern, with terrific lines. It’s the most unique of all of the handbags that VALEXTRA makes and I love the way we have applied a 1970’s print to the leather using traditional and intarsia techniques.”
La DoubleJ’s collection was displayed surrounded by the patterns and colors inspired by the regional silk tradition that have made her brand famous; a visual reminder of the traditional patterns loved and preserved by the brand. The Tric Trac bags were shown on special glass spheres, crafted for the occasion by Venetian glass maker Salviati.
Originally from Milan, SUNNEI was launched in 2014 as an independent label, founded by Loris Messina & Simone Rizzo. Loris and Simone never felt comfortable collaborating with other brands in the past, but immediately said yes when VALEXTRA called. “This is the very first idea developed in collaboration with another brand, and the perfect chance to highlight our idea of quality and value,” say Loris and Simone
“In the middle of the ordinary chaos surrounding the universe of cobranding projects, we’ve been waiting for the right opportunity. When VALEXTRA reached out, we realized that the brand embodies the idea of timeless authenticity we’ve been seeking since the start and that goes beyond fashion’s preconceived notions. We look forward to presenting this collaboration in February, highlighting a project that has the perfect balance between expertise and creativity.”
Their collection is unmistakably SUNNEI. “We chose to work with VALEXTRA’s Passepartout because it is genderless, square and perfect for our idea of a bag as a “matryoshka nesting doll”. We first created a weekender and then smaller and smaller bags that live inside each other until it becomes a wallet. We loved working with VALEXTRA’s incredible archive of materials. We came up with the concept of the matryoshka the first time we saw all the amazing materials we could work with.”
SUNNEI presented their collection using a 2-meter tall mechanical arm, developed in collaboration with Italian factory ALPAC. The arm picks up one of their bags and pulls it out from inside a bigger one to demonstrate the matryoshka concept. Sunnei’s friend, DJ TOCCI, curated the music for the presentation.
Carolina Castiglioni founded PLAN C in 2018 after 13 years at MARNI, recently serving as Creative Director of Special Projects for the brand. Carolina embodies the quirky and chic style of the typical Milanese woman of today. “PLAN C is about being as creative as you want to be,” says Carolina “and to always do things your own way.”
Working with VALEXTRA was a new experience for Carolina. “At first, I thought we were too different, but I soon found out that PLAN C and VALEXTRA share the same values and have the same outlook on fashion. That’s why I think using my daughter’s drawing she did of her friend Bianca when she was 4 years old on a VALEXTRA’s Iside Crossbody bag works so well.”
PLAN C will display the collection alongside an animated wall projection of the drawing made by Carolina Castiglioni’s daughter.
Arthur Arbesser launched his eponymous womenswear label in February 2013 in Milan. Born and raised in the Austrian capital Vienna, the streamlined turn-of-the-century architecture as well as the evocative heritage of applied arts and design remain a strong source of inspiration for the designer today. He established a sophisticated style enhanced by vivid graphics and finest quality fabrics, and his silhouettes radiate a pure, yet sensual approach to modernity.
For Arthur, VALEXTRA represents Milan and the innate elegance of Milanese women. “VALEXTRA is the understated luxury that is so quintessentially Milan. Milan is about quality and how you present yourself. It’s not about being ostentatious. I also love the architectural quality of everything VALEXTRA makes. How rigorous the lines and shapes are in their products. I always respected this brand and that’s why I decided to work together with VALEXTRA. My VALEXTRA Brera bag has been directly inspired by the Milanese women I have always been fascinated with.”
Arthur Arbesser displayed his collection through a graphic installation made out of plexiglass, mirrorred surfaces, neon lights and two large plates by his friend, designer Marco Guazzini .
Massimo Alba founded his eponymous brand in 2006 in Milan, after working for over 20 years as a designer and creative director for a number of influential Italian brands.
Unstructured tailoring, exclusive fabrics and the use of natural, chemical-free pigments in the garment dyeing process characterise Massimo Alba’s collections. “For me VALEXTRA is the missing link between fashion and design,” he says. “I’ve always looked up to them. I even decided to buy my store in Via Brera because it has the same rounded windows as the VALEXTRA store I visited so many times in San Babila”. Massimo Alba also emphasizes the strong link between VALEXTRA and the city where it’s based: “VALEXTRA is about Milanese history and heritage, and the cultural relationship between a historic brand and a city.” For Massimo Alba, his collaboration is something more than just fashion. “Kindness is the most important thing that we have, and everyone keeps forgetting that. That’s why I decided to use the fabric from my best coats in my VALEXTRA Serie S, and that’s also why I’ve put so many personal hidden details that are meaningful to me as a gift to the person who’s going to buy the bag.”
Massimo Alba displayed his collection in an environment designed to evoke the beauty of everyday life. There’s a vinyl record player, 5 handkerchiefs from Massimo Alba’s own studio on the walls, a photo of his friend, photographer Domingo Milella and an extra-large, extra-soft cashmere poncho lying on a Gio Ponti Super Leggera armchair. Visitors were able to sit and listen to Massimo’s records.