In the hands of the young Roman designer, leather turns into a dream

Attention to detail. Handmaking. Precious materials. Innovation. Extraordinary items that the young Alexander Flagella stitches together to create a rare handbag, we would say unique ... A Greta Boldini bag! For the 2012-13 A/W, along with his colleague Michela Musco he has created a refined, timeless collection in which leather is once again the absolute protagonist ...

Q - When and how was the Atelier GretaBoldini born? Did you already know and collaborate with your colleague Michela Musco?

A - We met at Polimoda in 2007, then each of us had different work experiences and training: mine more focused on accessories, hers on clothing and dressmaking. For personal reasons, we have never lost sight of one another ... As in everyday life, things that we love and that inspire Michela and me are the same: passion for well-done things, for details refinement ... for that cultural/aesthetic tradition integral to our country’s history, from which we derive the main input to create collections which claim to be modern while using the same tradition. Greta Boldini is a project that was born in a very natural way, from the desire to offer a timeless look, the image of a strong and resolute woman, modern but with a retro allure, proud and regal but fragile and nostalgic at the same time, just Greta. Although in our heads from a good while ago, the Greta Boldini project has finally seen the light of day in November 2011, with the presentation of the capsule collection 00, and the opening of our workshop located in Via Sistine 121 in Rome: a place where every day Michela and I try to combine pure oneiric creation and meticulous craftsmanship.

Q - What is your academic and professional background?

A - As a boy,I studied scientific subjects, then the passion for design and the luxury world has gained the upper hand. After Polimoda, in fact, I worked with several companies and design offices in Tuscany and Paris, where I could work on leather goods for luxury brands and where I met my mentor I owe so much to. All these experiences helped me to grow. Because of different reasons, another essential experience has been my first stage in a company which both produces leather garments for the greats of the prêt-a-porter and does important researches on materials. I have learned some techniques I did not even know they existed.

Q - Yours is a young but strong woman. Sophisticated but who dares and does it with accessories. So what about the inspiration for the collection presented at Room Service?

A - The creative process of 01-PIUME D’ARAGOSTA was born thanks to a surreal oneiric journey (the title says it all). For our first "full-bodied" collection we have chosen a theme dear to us and we have made Greta straddling the art-nouveau and the art-deco. Even the ethnic references are the result of fantasy rather than of an empirical journey.

Q - And what about the creative process? Which is the first step? Clothes or bags? Have you confronted each other?

A - As I said before, the first step is the Greta’s journey that, of course, we do together: together we choose color palettes and materials, graphisms and style elements that will combine goods with clothing ... We especially boast about having a style, a well-delineated world from which to draw, so when we go to the design phase, we develop it harmoniously even if we work independently from each other.

Q - It’s one item that I want to focus on…. Bags! Which materials have you used and which ones do you generally prefer?

A - For this "01-PIUMED'ARAGOSTA" collection, as a base I have chosen a wrinkled calf nabuck with an elephant skin effect declined either in black or in lobster orange, of course. Two types of moluro pythons as valuable materials: the buffered by hand with a much more defined and embossed scale one and the washed ultra-soft velvet one. We have also included guinea fowl and marabou feathers, which make the collection more fun, and the tassel, of course, that is the material which ensures the best outcome for the realization of the Greta Boldini embroidery characterizing the collection iconic bags.

Q - Tell us about the idea, the creation, in other words: the evolution of a Greta Boldini bag.

A - Volumes are in my head for months and besides revisiting the brand iconic volumes, I start by the new ones that I always have a great desire to study. Of course, there are always too many ideas compared to the collection (at least the current one) requirements, so I make a selection from the mood-board that Michela and me studied in advance. The first thing is the sketch that I just do black and white so that I’m not too much influenced for the choice of both colors and combinations. Then I move to the paperboard. I always do a couple of prototypes to better study the volumes, the harmony of the elements and the response of the materials that I carry on the paperboard until I reach the optimal shape. Then there is the manufacturing step with which we deal by ourselves with knife, hammer, needle and thread, of course.

Q - The minutia of details and the great Italian craftsmanship are visible in all your creation. How long does it take to produce a bag and how much is the tradition of the handmade important to you?

A - It's hard to say, even because the attention to details, the love we put in each seam, always brings us to do a little more... For example, for the ladygreta prototype it took us 4 days of work, it seems an endless work... the handmade not only is critical for us but it is also the style particularity. This hand-crafted veracity which characterizes the manufacturing maybe takes you a small smudge in the rib dyeing (that is hand colored with repeated strokes) and each embroidery is never exactly the same as the previous one, but it is just this uniqueness that distinguishes us from the made-in-series product.

Q -Alexander, why have you decided to dedicate yourself to this fashion system "niche" sector?

A - Because of a prone aptitude for a more personal service, the attention to the customers typical of both the '50s couture and the antique shops and the great respect Michela and me have for these trades, we have just created the Greta Boldini project around these ideals. We think that these values, along with a personalized and customized service (with a strong fashion connotation), cannot be walked by either big luxury or low-cost brands and therefore we propose ourselves just to serve this particular segment.

Q -Your participation at Room Service has been a great success with audiences and critics. How much are you happy about this experience? Were there, in the past, obstacles on the path you have chosen to go?

A - We are very pleased with the feedback Room Service has given us and we thank Simonetta Gianfelici for giving us this wonderful opportunity. It was a wonderful experience we hope to repeat soon. Obstacles never lack ... We know very well that to take a road like ours, to open an atelier offering a product in which we believe very much and for which we receive appreciations but which is not well-known yet is, if nothing else, a courageous choice, especially in such a particular period. To me, the most important thing is to face all the situations calmly and then in the morning, when I open the lab doors and I get inundated with the heady smell of leather and rawhide, I remember to be lucky because I have the opportunity to do what I love every day.

Q - In fine, do you have a secret wish? And what about the next collection?

A - To make Greta grow in a healthy way and to maintain the domestic production by employing a mix of skilled hands and talented young people who like, as we do, the manual labor and the satisfaction that you can gain, always all strictly Made in Italy. For the next collection Greta will make another oneiric journey but we have too many ideas in mind ... we cannot anticipate anything!

Alexander Flagella, thank you so much.

Luca Imbimbo

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