What happens when you take one of the chicest women in Milan and transplant her to New York City? You light up the East Village like it’s Rockefeller Plaza at Christmas (but with better ornaments).
Alessandra Facchinetti has spent most of her life steering some of the biggest ships in the fashion world. After spending time at the helms of Gucci, Valentino and Tod’s, she has crossed the pond to conquer New York, taking with her a much-needed injection of eye-popping prints and jangling jewels to the motherland of monochrome, downtown NYC.
So, what is the first thing a quintessentially Milanese girl does when she moves to America? She makes sure her vintage jewelry dealer back home is on speed dial. “You don’t know Giovanna?!” Facchinetti exclaims. “I love her. She’s one of the chicest women in Milan.” (You an hear the sounds of fashionistas around the globe leaning in as Facchinetti offers one of her coveted vintagehunting tips.) “I usually go to her shop on Saturday mornings when she’s always surrounded by friends—it’s very Milanese.
They drink coffee and talk jewelry. She’s a Fellini character. She smokes. She doesn’t care.” For Facchinetti, the alliance with the person doling out the jewels is more than just business: “We share a common passion. It’s interesting to learn the history behind a piece of jewelry. A relationship is built on this complicity, they know what I like.” And looking at her, it’s easy to see that she has some excellent relationships. One of the most fruitful products of these friendships? A dazzling example of Louis the XVI-era designed earrings in blue enamel she scooped up a few years ago, which are so precious she admits to only recently being able to bring herself to wear them.
She pairs them with stacks of Pomellato rings in an array of tones to hit the right balance of vintage and new: “I love their effortless elegance and their unmistakable colors.” There is rarely a moment in the day when it’s possible to find Facchinetti without her signature oversized earrings: “I rarely leave the house without them, I even sleep in them occasionally,” she admits.
Facchinetti picked up this habit at an early age from her impossibly chic grandmother: “She was obsessed with antique jewelry. Even to go to the supermarket she would put together an outfit.” To this day Facchinetti lives by this advice, insisting that there is no activity too banal to not warrant a thorough accessorising: “I don’t confine a piece of jewelry to one occasion of use, I could wear a piece to a special event or with a white t-shirt.” The pair that is dearest to her heart, a set of ornate Victorian chandelier earrings from the colonial period in India, were the first piece in her collection and kicked off what would become a veritable trove brimming with glamor. More than a hobby, Facchinetti sees her commitment to collecting, style, and the relationships that are tied to them as something typically Italian. It grounds her in her culture all the way from America. And, though she is loving her transatlantic relocation (complete with a hunky Italian boyfriend), she confesses to the slightest whiff of nostalgia “I will miss the lifestyle and the habits of Milan. It’s a place where you always go to the same places and do the same thing, the neighbourhood life.” For the city’s most fabulous export, her next big project doesn’t stray too far from her roots: “I’m really into rugs now,” she reveals. “I’m designing them.”
Which is, of course, the logical next step for someone who has spent their life in Milan, where the design and textile industries crash into one another at breakneck speeds. “Geometrics and abstracts are graphically the prints I’ve always loved. It comes very naturally to me.” As a designer, her talents and curiosity lay far beyond the confines of fashion and the opportunities to expand into different fields will surely be coming fast and furious, “I like everything. I’m very open. It’s not just clothes that I’m interested in. I’m inspired by art, design, furniture.” But in the meantime, she’s taking New York by storm and trying on all of the (undoubtedly gorgeous) new hats she can get her fabulously bejewelled hands on.
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