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The University of Pittsburgh's Daily Student Newspaper

The Pitt News

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A speaker addressed protestors at an Earth Day rally in Schenley Plaza on Monday.
‘Reclaim Earth Day’ protest calls for Pitt to divest from fossil fuels
By Kyra McCague, Staff Writer • April 24, 2024
Stephany Andrade: The Steve Jobs of education
By Thomas Riley, Opinions Editor • April 24, 2024
The best cafés to caffeinate and cram for finals
By Irene Castillo, Senior Staff Writer • April 22, 2024

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A speaker addressed protestors at an Earth Day rally in Schenley Plaza on Monday.
‘Reclaim Earth Day’ protest calls for Pitt to divest from fossil fuels
By Kyra McCague, Staff Writer • April 24, 2024
Stephany Andrade: The Steve Jobs of education
By Thomas Riley, Opinions Editor • April 24, 2024
The best cafés to caffeinate and cram for finals
By Irene Castillo, Senior Staff Writer • April 22, 2024

Offbeat | The 2023 Italian Summer Fashion Edit: Four Amazing Things I Did (and Loved)

Offbeat is a biweekly blog offering new and meaningful takes on all things media.
Offbeat+%7C+The+2023+Italian+Summer+Fashion+Edit%3A+Four+Amazing+Things+I+Did+%28and+Loved%29
Annika Esseku | Contributing Editor
The sun-filled family room in Jillian Rowan’s apartment in Florence, Italy over the summer. (Jillian Rowan | Staff Writer)

In June, I lived in the heart of Firenze, Italy in the most gorgeous, penthouse-like terracotta apartment on Via dei Velluti. Tourists permeate every ounce of the city, but not our little culture-buzzing nook on this side of the Arno River. My home was airy, eclectic and spacious, a true “Under the Tuscan Sun” dream, with more than enough room for the nine students it housed. The only downside? Four exhausting flights of treacherously crooked marble stairs. Even if they broke two wheels clean off my suitcases, I still adored these stairs. 

This was the best month of my life – let me tell you about it.

 

1. Went to fashion school in the heart of Florence

Just across the alley from my apartment, I studied fashion communications with the amazing Francesca Passeri at the American Institute for Foreign Study. Here, we studied the main communication developments within the fashion world — this included iconic magazines from the early days, editorial fashion photography and videography and the newfound craze in following fashion influencers. 

We also explored what the big players in fashion are doing and how they realize and share a cohesive brand identity for themselves — we’re talking Prada, Gucci, Schiaparelli, LuisaViaRoma, Salvatore Ferragamo, Louis Vuitton and Dior.

2. Snuck into a Vogue fashion show during Pitti Uomo

If my future employer happens to be Condé Nast or LouisaViaRoma, I’m so sorry — but it was well worth it. 

My study abroad roommate and I call ourselves treacherous twin flames — what she does, I do and vice versa. So we decided to sneak into the LVR x Vogue Show: Fashion Icons during Pitti Uomo, or men’s fashion week. We heard about the show that morning in class. We were told how exclusive it was as only a certain number of invites went out to massive celebrities — including Leonardo DiCaprio, Liam Payne and Tobey Maguire. So we picked up outfits, wore sunglasses in the dead of night and chucked on strappy heels — surprisingly, it worked out. 

I won’t give away our ways, but before we knew it, we were watching Andrea Bocelli sing to the open-air catwalk show atop the breathtaking Piazzale Michelangelo, the hazy lights of Florence’s famous sights glowing beneath. This was the most out-of-body experience of my entire life — watching models like Irina Shayk, Ashley Graham, Violet Chachki and Winnie Harlow take the stage solidified my desire to join the fashion world in my professional life. 

Just so you know, Julia Fox looked stunning in person.

LouisaViaRoma models taking the runway at the LVR x Vogue Show: Fashion Icons in Florence, Italy. (Jillian Rowan | Staff Writer)

3. Explored the Gucci Gardens 

As part of a class field trip, we visited the famous Gucci Gardens. Situated within the historic Palazzo della Mercanzia, the colorful Gardens boast dream-like expositions, including fashion’s most coveted dresses, bags and accessories. The Gardens take visitors through the “Guccification” of fashion, showing how the double G’s rose to fame through the years. The brainchild of creative director Alessandro Michele, viewers can delve into his vision for the profound history of the House. 

The Gardens even host a three-Michelin-star restaurant beneath all the bags and ballgowns — the Gucci Osteria. After touring, one can even shop at the on-site store situated within the Museum — I, for one, didn’t even attempt to step foot in there. Gucci prices aren’t meant for a li’l Pennsylvania gal like me. You might be wondering, “Why is it called the Garden?” The building is meant to be considered a “living” thing — as Gucci lives in the past, present, and future, as designs and craftsmanship grow and alter through life. The more you know!

4. Received one-of-a-kind artisanal jewelry from a Gucci gold maker

No flashy advertisements, no curated Instagram feed, not even a signpost. Giuliano

Cecchi’s artisanal jewelry workshop is cluttered yet homey — handwritten hours of operation are posted on the wall, tattered business requests from the likes of Christian Dior are strewn on the counters — he is the beating heart of Florentine craftsmanship.

For sixty-one years, Giuliano made handmade beautiful gold pieces in his basement workshop, his main customers being Neiman Marcus, Dior and, most importantly, Gucci. He’s responsible for aiding in the creation of the iconic Gucci bee, the double-headed horse medallion and more. 

Part of his allure, as found in much of the fashion world, is the difficulty in finding Giuliano. As with many old-style artisans, they aren’t readily accessible and, in my opinion, shouldn’t be. So, if you mosey into his remote little section of Florence, you must buy some of his pieces — Giuliano has handmade my rings, necklaces and beautiful bangles that I’ll keep forever. His work is genuinely worth its weight in gold. Being alongside his talent is a cultural experience that shares the reputation, experience and importance of local artisanship in Florence.

All in all, I’m beyond thankful for my time in Italy. From fashion shows to artisan creators, my time abroad exposed me to the wonderful world of fashion communications and craftsmanship. If you get the chance, say yes to everything — it might just get you to Vogue. 

Reach Jillian at [email protected].

About the Contributor
Jillian Rowan, Staff Writer
Hi! My name is Jilly Rowan. I am a Junior studying Media and Professional Communications on the Digital Media Track. Something about me is I am a duel citizen of the United Kingdom, and I love to travel :)