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V is for Valextra: Celebrating 75 Years of Italian Crafstmanship

While 2012 may be winding down, we weren’t about to let this year fade to black without the mention of a very important milestone: Valextra, the venerable Milanese fashion house, is celebrating its 75th anniversary.

A quick fashion history lesson: In 1937, the Fontana brothers opened their first Valextra shop in the Piazza San Babila, a few steps off the shopping causeway that now is Corso Vittorio Emanuele. From the get-go, fine materials and expert craftsmanship were paramount. The workshop was located just about the ground floor store, putting craftsmen in close proximity to their discerning customers. But of equal importance to quality in Valextra’s success equation is design.

Valextra was founded around the time when air travel was, forgive the pun, taking off. The Fontana brothers took inspiration from the impressive feat of flight and its aura of luxury as Eero Saarninen would later in his TWA terminal. The Avietta, which has now become a signature of the collection, was born during this epoch. Beyond luggage, the structured lines and understated quality of Valextra handbags and briefcases have proved to possess enduring appeal. Fans past and present include Wallis Simpson, Grace Kelly, Tyler Brûlé and Katie Holmes.

Though Valextra may have initially made a name for itself with a forward-thinking approach, perhaps its allure today can be attributed, at least to a certain degree, to its resistance to change. Yes, folios have been replaced with iPad cases, but the company’s president, Emanuele Carminati Molina, believes the key to growing Valextra’s fan base will be preserving the quality they have become known for. He has hired back many of the master artisans that left during the 80s and vowed to keep production based in Italy.

To commemorate 75 years of exquisite existence, we asked Sarah Blair, vice president and DMM of women’s accessories (a.k.a. our resident leather goods guru) for her choice of Valextra pieces with enduring style. Hard to narrow the field, but read on for her selection.

 

“The oversized Namaste hobo in signature pergamina white appeals to a bohemian spirit.”“The Madison working bag is the ideal hybrid brief-tote for the working girl.”


“This classic Tammy frame clutch is reminiscent of Hitchcock’s Marnie.”

“I love the polished simplicity of this carryall, which is both paper and digital friendly.”

“In the Avietta, timeless luggage gets a modern upgrade with wheels.”

“A card holder is a giftable pop of color with universal appeal.”

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