I can picture it now. It’s around 1925. A young woman, selling her custom designed hats in Paris by the Arc de Triomphe, meets a young man who happened to be in France betting on horses and a love story begins. Since he happened to be dealing with straw, they decide to make straw hats together in France — but true to most entrepreneurial tales, the business doesn’t go so well (and actually ends up bankrupt!) — so they move to Italy and try again. They find a beautiful property in the heart of Florence, and start a small shop in the 1930s.
Fast forward to 2017. This very woman’s grandson, Andrea Panconesi, and her great-granddaughter, Annagreta, now run a business on this same property, only now it is the world famous LUISAVIAROMA store and online shopping destination that receives four million hits a month and stocks 500 designers. What a family history!
As founder of a company, I’m fascinated by brands — by their influence, their heartbeat and the impact they can have, but most of all, I’m fascinated by how they begin and the way they execute their artistic vision. LUISAVIAROMA has one such impressive vision.
At Darling, we’re committed to partnering with other brands that care deeply about their mission and customer, which is why I was honored when they not only chose to advertise in Darling (see their beautiful ads in our last two issues), but also invited us to Florence, Italy to collaborate on a photo shoot together and attend their world famous charity event, Firenze4Ever — in which proceeds from the sale of seats and an auction go to the Andrea Bocelli Foundation for the rebuilding of schools devastated by Hurricane Matthew in Haiti.
I couldn’t wait to direct my first shoot abroad and meet the team behind this amazing company. So, I packed a beaded gown by Adrianna Papell, my husband packed a white tux by the Black Tux, and we were off across the ocean! Upon arrival in Florence, the festivities started with a gorgeous dinner at Relais Santa Croce in the city center. The next day we did a fantastic photo shoot with two models and LVR clothing and although it was freeezzzinnnngggg cold, we achieved some epic shots! That evening, we arrived at the gorgeous Teatro Odeon in Florence and walked into a breathtaking room designed with impeccable detail, seating 200 guests from around the globe for the gala.
We started with a 20-foot table of Italian meats, cheeses, olives and oils (my ultimate dream!) and watched a video about the work that Andrea Bocelli does in Haiti followed by a fabulous musical performance by the master himself.
During dinner I had an interesting conversation about the magazine and fashion businesses with the editor of Vogue Korea and there was, of course, fabulous people watching — my favorite outfits were worn by Lindsay Lohan and Petite Meller!
To wrap up, auctioneer Simon de Pury sold unique pieces in an exciting, competitive auction from Bosco Sodi, Chiharu Shiota, Giovanni Manfredini, Gualtiero Vanelli, Jak Espi, Maddalena Ambrosio, Mathieu Pernot, Massimo Vitali, Maurizio Donzelli, Pascale Marthine Tayou and Valay Shende. My favorite was a golden bear statue plated in gold!
After the auction we visited the elaborate dessert tables, talked about Los Angeles with many Italians and then went back into the room for the after party, kicked off by Tom Odell on the piano playing one of my favorites, “Another Love.”
Next up? None other than icon Kelly Rowland from Destiny’s Child! I was in the front row and I can say it was on another level to hear someone who has won four Grammy Awards and sold more than 40 million records (worldwide as a solo artist), perform a mix of all the top Destiny’s Child songs. The evening escalated as the whole crowd sang along to hits like “Say My Name” and “Survivor!”
LUISAVIAROMA is a family, one that cares about impeccable design, artistic execution, amazing displays of merchandise and curating, curating, curating.
We left the gala feeling inspired by the creativity of industry leaders, art and the impact that a brand can have on the world for good. That night over $200,000 was raised for the foundation. LUISAVIAROMA is a family, one that cares about impeccable design, artistic execution, amazing displays of merchandise and curating, curating, curating. You’ll find the best of the best on their site. While some of it may just be for dreaming, much of LUISAVIAROMA houses those pieces you know you should buy as quality staples — not to mention, their great sales and free shipping from Italy!
Stay tuned to see the editorial shoot we collaborated on together, premiering in our upcoming Spring issue! See below for more images from the night:
To find out more, visit luisaviaroma.com.
Images provided by LUISAVIAROMA