Photographed by Bek Andersen.

From the moment you step into the courtyard of the Italian heritage leather goods house Fontana Milano 1915, you can feel the warmth of a family-run business surround you. A visitor is greeted with quite the welcoming entrance: lush greenery, a pristine storefront, and finished collections of handbags proudly displayed in the artful showroom. The company’s care and attention to detail do not stop at the ground floor. There’s loving scrutiny paid to every crevice throughout the factory, reaffirming what it means to truly stand for quality.

On a cool, crisp afternoon in Milan, The Window team got lost in the wondrous house of Fontana. This visit did not come without its secrets. As we brushed through the immaculate floors, artisans all around—protective of their projects with other brands—swiftly covered their work in an effort to keep the designs confidential. While we can’t say their names (Pheobe Philo wouldn’t like that much—whoops, we never were known for being covert!), we can attest that the sheer volume of luxury goods under one roof had us buzzing with exhiliration. Mustering up the restraint of a gluten-free devotee presented with a Freds robiola truffle oil pizza, we proceeded on with the tour and refrained from scooping up every piece in sight and making a run for the Swiss border.

Escorted through the space by Fontana designer Roberta Giacobbe—a chic woman with round tortoise frames and the beaming smile of a proud mom to her family of craftsman—we poked and prodded our way through, observing what goes into a product that can authentically be labeled as a luxury. With seemingly no less than a hundred hands contributing to the fabrication of one bag, we took in all we could and left the Porta Romana district with a renewed respect for each carefully placed piece of hardware, hand-sewn pocket, and painted-edge corner. Below, come along with us as we visit the best-kept secret in the industry.

_MG_9877The entrance to Fontana Milano 1915 is a stone courtyard framed by radiant green flora and climbing vines.

_MG_9935Upstairs, natural light poured into the workspace, which was filled with craftsmen carefully cutting out patterns for the studded satchel, tum tum tote and double-slip tab messenger. Each style of bag was tended to individually, treated as the unique project it was.

_MG_0093Our attempts on being discreet and non-disruptive were futile. We were welcomed into each room and chatted up feverishly. Even when a language barrier was presented, we were still shown through the process with clear excitement.

_MG_0070Only the best make it through. Each handbag is sampled, weighed, and tested for wear.

_MG_9901A sewing station for handles, each stitched to perfection.

_MG_0141An array of Fontana Milano colors in small batches.

_MG_0134Every edge is painted to a smooth, glossy finish. This process is completed several times with drying time in between.

_MG_9917Tools of the trade, ‘no smoking,’ and a small shrine to the favored Italian football—ahem, soccer—team.

_MG_9996Fontana-adorned lab coat and the essentials.

_MG_0163A hand-stamping station.

_MG_0157At this point of the tour, we happened upon Karolina Kurkova chatting up the Fontana team. Exactly what the supermodel was doing there will remain a half-mystery, but she seemed as delighted by the company as we were.


Kurkova takes a go at the stamping station producing a K.K. monogram on the inside of her new top-handle satchel._MG_0014_MG_0022_MG_0195Once each piece of the bag is completed, it moves along to the hardware station._MG_0172Fontana is not only known for its fine leathers but also for the cutom hardware created for the collection. Polished metals, purposeful zippers, and thoughtfully placed studs and closures ensure a sturdy bag that’s aesthetically pleasing._MG_0151At Luca’s station, pictured here, you can see all the parts of the top-handle satchel laid out for hardware assembly.
_MG_0211_MG_0199A finished Fontana Milano studded baby cartella satchel with hundreds of meticulously placed tiny studs. _MG_0394

Pictured: Fontana Tum Tum mini tote; Fontana Tum Tum small tote; Fontana double slip-tab messenger; Fontana studded Tum Tum large tote; Fontana top-handle satchel; Fontana studded pochette clutch; Fontana studded Baby Cartella satchel.