Serapian mixes contemporary tastes with historical leather craftsmanship
What can you carry inside a bag? Maybe a lot of things, but in a Serapian bag u will certainly take handmade textures, history, a dash of art, and a lot of craft techniques with you.
With foundations in a family tradition, Serapian knows how to blend contemporary tastes with historical leather craftsmanship. Since the beginning, the dreamy-poetic-magical side of Milan is the background that remains a constant source of inspiration 4 each creation. So we guess we can say it's kind of a date: for every hidden place of the city, an exclusive pattern or material combination. In every architecture element, the brain wave for some perfect finishes.
“Milan historical design and art details have always been a constant source of inspiration for our Maison and of support for our commitment to crafting unique creations that fully represent this passion for the authentic Milanese elegance and aesthetic.”
That being said, a city does not live by history alone. And since Milan is also one of the most take-me-there-please places for fashion lovers & designers all over the world, it is the perfect spot to transform your leather bag into a piece of art.
Asking yourself how to do that? Giovanni Nodari, third generation of the Serapian family, can tell u in our exclusive chat right down. Here’s a spoiler: it's all about the details.
Milan is recognized as one of the world's most important fashion capitals. In an industry that changes all the time, what is the city's secret to staying in vogue for so long?
I would say that there are two elements that make Milan truly unique and explain its capacity to stay in vogue for so long: the first one is its perfect balance of creativity and craftsmanship, as Milan has been a key city for arts and design since ever, for instance, from the Last Supper by Leonardo Da Vinci to the most contemporary creations, such as pieces by Maurizio Cattelan. In parallel, Milan is also nurtured by an extraordinary ecosystem of craftsmen who are based in the area and work for different kinds of industries. The second important factor is that Milan has always been an important city for trade and very open to the world. It is constantly enriched by visitors coming from all around the globe and must stay updated on new ideas, lifestyles, and expectations.
You define yourself as poetically Milanese. How does the city creative dimension influence your design?
Milan is well known for its business dimension, but it is also authentic, Milan is a very cultured, sophisticated, elegant, and poetic city. This is the most dreamy and magical side of the city - and it's true that you may need the keys to discover it properly. There are many secret gardens if you look at a Milan map and by paying attention to it you will notice a lot of green and plenty of unique architecture elements and hidden places. Serapian home, for example, is located in the heart of Milan and inside an historical townhouse created by the famous architect Piero Portaluppi in the 1930s. As an important architect for Milan's high society, he was also very much inspired by and interested in astronomy, astrology and nature, havingso many of his creations reflected these oniric symbols. All of these historical design and art details have always been a constant source of inspiration for our Maison and of support for our commitment to crafting unique creations that fully represent this passion for the authentic Milanese elegance and aesthetic.
Serapian is all about classic & iconic pieces. How does the balance between tradition and creativity work?
The perfect mix of contemporary charm comes from knowing how to blend current tastes of clients with our rich historical archive and know-how. The Mosaico - a hand-woven technique created in 1947 by the founder Stefano Serapian -, for instance, is a unique method of weaving strips of the finest Nappa leather that symbolizes the most excellent Italian craft. So in every collection we enrich this traditional method with different tones or material combinations, as the Mosaico Chiaroscuro, a very innovative technique to do a shading effect from white to black we introduced in FW20. Besides that, we can also draw inspiration from the vast historical archive of sketches and bags, which will always remain a constant source of inspiration for our designers.
Serapian is a brand known for high-level leather and crafting excellence. Do you believe that the material carries some history?
At Serapian it absolutely does. Thanks to the hundreds of leathers my family has collected since the Maison was founded, we now have at our disposal one of the widest collection of luxury Italian leathers and materials in the world. Cachemire leather, for example, is an exclusive leather which takes its name from the precious silk known for its softness. Likewise, Evoluzione leather is a combination of artisanal craftsmanship and technology that creates a distinctive texture both resistant and functional. There is also Stepan, a coated, versatile and resistant canvas with the letter S embossed all over, representing the emblematic symbol of the Maison since 1972.
Do you think we can read people based on their bags?
The accessory has always been a fountain of information. A bag can tell who you are, it is the index of a book about a person’s life. Serapian clients are connoisseurs who are looking for the best in every product category: they want to wear watches made by true watchmakers, shoes by true shoemakers, and bags by historical maroquiniers. That's why Cachemire leather is really appreciated by those who want soft and highly refined materials; our Evoluzione leather is really enjoyed by businessmen and entrepreneurs who seek functionality and performance; and our Mosaico and Stepan crafts are loved by design lovers, architects, and people inside the fashion industry. We also believe that, for women as well, a bag can really say things about you in terms of shape. I remember a specific bespoke we did once with a female client who was looking for a bag with a hidden pocket inside. In the occasion, I didn’t ask what it was for, but this is how our iconic Secret bag was born! Since the beginning, we've been one of the few to offer a unique service and we do that because in this way our clients can create their own style. They can use their bags to reflect their personality in terms of material, color combinations, and finishes.
Your designs have reached many countries. What is your favorite place in the world? After Milan, of course.
If I had to choose another place after Milan, I would say Paraggi. It is a small bay next to Portofino, at the Italian Riviera, and the ideal place to decompress and think about future projects - maybe even in the company of some Milanese friends. Inspired by the silhouette of the historical archives of the Maison from the 1960s, we even created a suitcase specifically dedicated to Paraggi, where our family also has a summer house. It became a line that talks to whom is looking for impeccable craftsmanship and style.
Serapian mixes handmade textures, a dash of art, and a lot of craft techniques in its pieces. What is it like workin' with this level of concern for details? Why do you value each one of them so much?
Details have always been an integral part of our DNA. I remember the countless times Gina Serapian repeated a stitch, cut or pattern when I worked by her side, because repetition is the core of the highest quality creations and the only way to obtain the best execution. So today, to obtain this level of excellence is natural for me and no longer a concern. This special attention to detail is fundamental for us in order to fully satisfy our clients who are looking for perfection in every aspect. If I have to tell you a few of our specific details, one of it has to be the Attacco handle, which is a functional construction of the bag handle that emphasizes a distinct design unique to Serapian. There is also the inner structure of the creations which highlights aesthetics but also functionality with various pockets and perfect finishes. Finally, I can tell you about the classic Mano Milanese, which is the specific hand-work done in our ateliers that gives the creation the perfect mix of extreme suppleness and softness with resistance.
Can we say a leather bag is a piece of art?
Of course! And I guess a recent example would be our Mosaico Signed by our Artisans collection: one of a kind pieces personalized and signed by the artisans who crafted them. As in the past when master artisans left their mark on their creations, the artisans who have crafted these bags have signed them on an inside tag. They also personalize the bags by weaving at will a colored stripe outside the piece, a signature that comes each time in a different position and makes every bag truly unique. Besides that, every bespoke creation that I personally follow could also be defined as a piece of art: the clients are the artists and with their taste and preferences the creation will be meaningful to them.
If you had to choose, what statement piece would you need to survive in the fashion world?
I would say that, more than a piece, the statement theme is to find the perfect balance between beauty and functionality with a strong attitude. If I had to pick from our FW20 collection, I would say the Travel Bag in Mosaico, because it's both elegant and functional, extremely lightweight and fluid, as well as a symbol of crafting excellence. I think it is the appropriate accessory for those who are constantly traveling from one country to the next - with style.
"Milano by" inspired us to ask you a question: in your opinion, which color represents Milan the best?
Although many would instantly say gray, to me the color is yellow, specifically the shade Giallo Maria Teresa. It represents Milan in several ways, from the classic risotto allo Zafferano to the precious marble that lines the entrances of historical buildings.
What are your favorite hidden spots in the city?
Even if I don’t think it could be considered hidden, one of my favorite places in Milano is absolutely the Fondazione Franco Albini. It's a place where you can smell la Milanesità and where I love to go when I have some doubts about the creative process. I love to ask myself "how would Mr. Albini have solved this problem?"
Can you describe to us what the ideal day in Milan is for you?
The perfect day in Milan is absolutely the privilege and opportunity to show the city to who’s never been here before. Take them for a stroll through Galleria Vittorio Emanuele which brings you to Piazza della Scala where you can lose yourself in the narrow streets behind the theater and discover the hidden secrets of a Milan from another time.
Aside from our interview with Giovanni, appreciate the uniquely crafted leather pieces created by Serapian for its Fall/Winter 2020 collection, presented at Villa Mozart, Milan. ⬇️
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