With current travel restrictions due to COVID-19, dreams of an idyllic Italian vacation are just out of reach. But, that doesn’t mean we can’t virtually explore its craftsmanship and support small artisans. Two friends from Bologna, Italy, Stefania Inama and Claudia Maresca, have teamed up with some of Italy’s chicest hotels to bring the best of Italian fashion and accessories to your home in their new project, The Dressing Screen Italian Summer. The Dressing Screen is an e-commerce platform that launched in June 2019 and highlights more than 80 unique brands made in Italy, introducing us to fine artisans and small Italian brands with impeccable style and craftsmanship.
Stumbling across unique, local designers while on vacation is one of the greatest joys of traveling, and TDS Italian Summer offers a new platform to support these artisans while tourism is restricted. Allison Hoeltzel, the project’s fashion director, says, “I was speaking with Mariella of Palazzo Avino, I thought what a shame it was that she had a store full of the unique merchandise that they had selected months before, yet it was uncertain at the time whether the hotel would be able to open. The Dressing Screen came to mind, as it could offer an online e-commerce platform to give international visibility to not only these boutiques but also the gorgeous hotels. In this time when people can’t travel, The Dressing Screen can bring a little bit of Italy around the world.”
Stefani Inama, co-founder of The Dressing Screen, says, “Both Allison and I started hearing our American friends who would normally come to Italy often for summer vacations having to cancel their trips and their sadness in not being able to visit their Beloved Italy. So, we thought, ‘Let’s create a beautiful ‘virtual’ tour that can entertain and is shoppable, allowing visitors to purchase an exclusive piece from their favorite Italian province. And so, then we were off and running (virtually of course) to organize it.”
The tour takes us across Italy with travel tips, launches from different hotels, and insight into these beautiful artisans. The pieces include gorgeous fashion and accessories, beautiful tableware, artisanal olive oil, wine, perfumes, and toiletries. The hotels are among Italy’s finest, including Borgo Egnazia in Puglia, Il Borro in Tuscany, Palazzo Avino on the Amalfi Coast, Verdura Resort in Sicily, and Grand Hotel Tremezzo in Lake Como. These hotels got involved not just to find a new outlet to sell their products — they have a deep connection to their areas, their artisans, and the soul of Italian craftsmanship, and wanted to help them during these difficult times. Camilla Vender Melpignano from Borgo Egnazia says, “I felt the need to do something to spread the mastery of the Puglian people I have met here. The clothing and dresses featured in our Bottega Egnazia hotel boutique is a collection that focuses on unique pieces that are 100% made in Puglia by local craftsmen and seamstresses.” Vittoria Ferragamo, brand director for Il Borro’s Orto del Borro and head of Il Borro Special Projects, says, “My selection for The Dressing Screen represents the very soul of Il Borro. That’s to say authenticity, quality, and Tuscan character (obviously!). It’s my vision from the soil to the table, starting from wines from our cellars to the tomato puree from the Orto (garden) del Borro to our olive oil. They are all organic products that enhance Italian Tuscan traditions, and also feature a range of fabrics and accessories for the table. It’s a selection where our local craftsmanship and raw materials are a guarantee of top quality and representative of Made in Italy excellence.”
But most of all, this project celebrates memories of perfect moments with loved ones. Valentina De Santis of Grand Hotel Tremezzo says, “Our T Shop is like a 100% made in Italy treasure chest. When I personally select each product to feature, also reflective of the pieces selected in the TDS Italian Summer project, I always have in mind what I would like to take home with me as a special memory of an unforgettable Italian trip and of some very special days on Lake Como. This is what I really like to think about T Shop: it does not sell products, it sells memories and dreams.”