An Italian Lesson

An Italian Lesson

Where Pitti Immagine has excelled in the past few years is bringing in guest designers and giving them a complete freedom to do as they please, with full access to a whole host of sumptuous spaces that the city of Florence offers in whatever format they choose.  Some rock the boat, some tow the line and go for the obvious but most embrace their Florentine surroundings and Italian culture with gusto to stage a 'one off' event that is strictly 'for Florence only'.  

Olympia Le-tan 3


Olympia Le-Tan was perhaps not an obvious choice for Pitti W to choose as a special guest but anybody who has been to her presentations in Paris will know that the girl knows how to pick a space to bring her bags to life.  She has made a name for herself with her embroidered book clutches and miniaudieres which has enabled her to play with seasonal literary themes and I hear in March, she'll be presenting her first foray into clothing as well.  I do hope they involve embroidered quotes or the like.  Sounds cheesy on paper but I'm sure Le-Tan could do them justice.

For her event at Pitti, she has created a collection dedicated to Florence and her time spent studying Italian literature and cinema at university.  Once again, she chose another apt venue for her work, the Museo Bellini which has is a privately-owned museum, stuffed with renaissance artwork and objects.  Arranged artfully in amongst the artefacts of museum, familiar and unfamiliar titles and authors jump out at you from her now-established clutch and bag shapes.  I blame the English curriculum and my oafish ignorance for not knowing some of the works that were illustrated on the clutches.  For some reason my reading has gone deep into English, American, French and Russian literature but have only skirted around Italian.  For shame.  Penguin classics clearly didn't do a good job selling them into me at bookstores.









Social Olimpia Le Tan 19




Similarly, the films that were depicted in a series of portraits by Max Farago to accompany the presentation were also a struggle for me to identify.  The obvious jumped out at me but I was a little sketchy with the others.  Still, the presentation has given me impetus to do an Italian cinema DVD weekend as well as a visual reading list for me to plough through eventually.  Le-Tan got her bevy of mates to pose in the photos including Hamish Bowles depicting a scene in The Damned and Olivier Zahm in Sal√≤ (looking like he would if he were to do a self-portrait for his own Purple magazine, no‚Ķ?).  Victoire de Castellane, Camille Bidault Waddington and Andr√© Saraiva join the gaggle of friends who all re-enacted iconic Italian cinema moments. 






Even Olympia herself got in on the action with this Silvana Mangano in Riso Amaro portrait… 

Social Olimpia Le Tan 16

I'm not so great with the hybrid actress slash singer slash IT girl names but i gather there's plenty of them here looking beautiful.  Le-Tan doesn't normally do lookbook shoots for her collections but given the themes and imagery that her books conjure up, these images make you think that she should do this more often.



Natasha Fraser




My favourite portrait though wasn't shot by Farago and instead by Matthew Frost.  Well‚Ķ. it can only be Tilda‚Ķ




The night was Olympia Le-Tan doing her ode to Italian culture but her Gallic ways also crept into the night through the soundtrack and of course, these obligatory fashion party treats…


On a personal note, I've still yet to take the Olympia Le-Tan plunge.  They are insanely pricy but also painstakingly made.  There is no machine-based process to her work and it's not possible to reduce the labour time that goes into each one either.  Therefore, it would take a highly significant book title, preferably an early 20th century English novel to make me fork out the money.  I well and truly hope the people who buy her bags haven't just chosen them for their colour ways and have actually read the book their bag is depicting but that's just me being a militant schoolmaster.


Leave a comment
  1. Serdane

    2012-01-13 at 3:21 PM

    Those minaudières are just so original ! I love them !!

  2. canvasofculture

    2012-01-13 at 8:41 PM

    wonderful photos! thanks for sharing 🙂

  3. nancy

    2012-01-13 at 10:26 PM

    good on her! she made some wonderful nods to antonioni, bertolucci and other italian directors! i think she just got a star beside her name!

  4. Haidee

    2012-01-14 at 9:39 AM

    love the macrons beautiful

  5. Alexandra

    2012-01-14 at 10:32 AM

    Really cool, thank you.
    Alex @ Harvested

  6. Lea

    2012-01-14 at 12:42 PM

    the pics are soooome crazy 😉
    But..really cool, yes.

  7. e.rega

    2012-01-14 at 2:10 PM

    I know they are hand-done, but I’m a little disappointed to see some of the book covers looking lumpy and warped, like the fabric wasn’t firm enough for the embroidery, or it wasn’t stretched in a hoop properly. That’s okay for twee etsy projects, but it’s a bit sloppy for someone charging those kind of prices?

  8. susie_bubble

    2012-01-14 at 3:15 PM

    I did wonder whether doing this specific collection for Pitti AND producing a full collection (with clothing) in time of March may have taken its toll on what is essentially a small-scale cottage industry…
    I only noticed the warped quality on some of them (often the ones with the more intricate designs)…. perhaps they’ll be rectified in production?

  9. Taylor Lewis

    2012-01-14 at 9:43 PM
  10. Francesca

    2012-01-15 at 11:26 AM

    I just discovered your blog and love it. If it may be of consolation to you, I’m italian and I had a hard time recognizing the movies…makes me realize I should take the time to actually watch some of our iconic movies sometime…
    If you want to read some of the books that appear on those beautiful clutches (I actually like the fact that they are a little imperfect, but that might just be me) I would advise Il Decamerone for a good laugh (naughty medieval ages)and Il Gattopardo for a portrait of a sicilian noble family as it has to face the unification of Italy, both fascinating…
    Oh, the pictures are lovely!

  11. Deadly Bite

    2012-01-15 at 3:51 PM

    I want this for my birthday:
    Lovely post! n__n

  12. mas

    2012-01-15 at 5:05 PM
  13. Sarah

    2012-01-15 at 7:44 PM

    She and Spike Jonze also made an animated film together:

  14. Gaby

    2012-01-16 at 10:12 PM

    I love what she does – so very beautiful!

  15. Crisina

    2012-01-17 at 8:08 AM

    I love it you blog, is very beautifu and the photos is great!

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