The Haute Fourrure laboratory in Milan Revilo Pellicce
Interview with Oliviero Barbieri founder of Revilo Pellicce. More than an interview it’s a very interesting chat.
I suggest reading this interview if
- you want to enter the fur world
- you want to make an “impossible” collection sample
- you want a made-to-measure fur at a Haute Fourrure laboratory
- you want to transform one of your old fur into something fabulous
- and if you couldn’t care less you will find some interesting concepts anyway
How did you get into the fur world?
I got into it because I wanted it! As a boy I worked in a bar in Via Pattari… and I took coffee to the record offices… you know the record companies that were there in Galleria del Corso and there was also a furrier in Piazza Pattari, an old furrier.
When was that?
That was 1965 /1966, I took coffee to this furrier shop and when I stayed for hours… and the owner of the bar got fed up while the manager of the furrier’s seeing this boy that was so fascinated by this world took an interest in me to the point that he offered me a fur apprenticeship. I decided to talk with my mother because at the time I got a lot of tips: in the summer I took home as much as 80/90 mila lire a month that for a boy was a lot and we needed the money at home, but I wanted a radical change because I was so attracted to this fur work that at that time for my family was on another planet. I would earn 20 thousand lire a month (five thousand a week).
but my parents seeing me so determined just said “if you like it do it” and from there I started and I am still fascinated by this world.
The world of the art of fur
But what did you you? Did you work with fur skins? Was it an old-style furrier where there was also the fur laboratory … or did you take care to sell the fur coats?
No, no, as a boy I was moved around according to the needs of the fur modeling department where I prepared the models, I cut them and I helped to nail the fur skins. The work in this field was not continuous, it was seasonal and in spring summer you had to prepare for the next winter. To do that you had to move from one department to another and when I arrived in the modeling department I went CRAZY… I really liked drawing and there I really had a lot of fun. There was also a worker that was fond of me.
Later the fur manager that got me into the furrier’s opened a laboratory in Galleria del Corso and took me to work with him. He was a fantastic person: he was my master and taught me everything about the fur sector but he was on “another planet“… today you would say “off his trolley” because when he saw a woman he went crazy and disappeared from the laboratory for days. In the laboratory as well as him, he was the cutter, there was also a machinist, an assembler and myself. The shops that requested his services were in Piacenza and also in Milan. The customer went to the shop, ordered a fur coat and so he had to go there, take the measurements and the skins and I always went with him. Unfortunately meeting new customers for him meant also new loves and automatically new disappearances from the laboratory. Luckily the two women were very professional – because at that time there was a lot of professionalism, more than now – and they started to give me responsibilities.
“So go to Piacenza”
“and go to take the measurements”
“But I can’t I don’t know where to start”
“I will show you” and so it was that they showed me how to take measurements.”
Then they learned me how to take the measurements and to put on the fur – remember that at the time I was sixteen years old.
If you notice a defect try to pinch here trying to memorize the defect, then write it down and we will see you back here in the laboratory”.
and that was the best fur school.
At that time there wasn’t even the smart phone that would have helped to show the fur to the laboratory…What could you do?
No, no! What smart phone! I left the central station here in Milan and I went to Piacenza and the husband of the woman who had a boutique came to get me. I went to the shop, took the measurements on the new furs to be made… at the time there were many fur coats made in beavers fur, many with woodchucks fur. I put everything in a big bag, I was taken back to the station, I got on the train where armed with pencil and paper I wrote everything down and when I arrived in Milan with all the furs I went back to the laboratory and the day after we started again.
It was a fur dream.
Then I had to do my military service. =(
So did you have to stop?
My father was an invalid and according to him I should have been exempted. Instead in Spring I got the news that I had been evaluated able and I would have to leave in October. At that time military service lasted fifteen months so I said to myself “here if I don’t do something I will lose two seasons of work.” I went to the district offices and I managed to leave in Summer so in that way I did two summers and only one winter.
And when you went back?
When I got back I discovered that my master had closed the fur laboratory so I worked for others furriers, for Schettini and then
“the desire to do and to work made me open my first fur laboratory in Via Palestrina in Milan.”
So you were Young! Well done! What year was that?
Yes, it was 197o when I opened my first fur Haute Fourrure laboratory. There were ups and downs, the work fluctuated a bit but I carried on and never gave up. Then one company went badly, but I carried on and didn’t give up. At that point of my life I met the woman who would become my wife, a person who helped me a lot and encouraged me to do more.
We took a fur laboratory closer because we had a boy and she had to divide herself between home and work.
Your son Riccardo Barbieri that is with us now and works at your side! Why your wife worked with you?
Yes she worked with me. At the beginning she had a hairdressing salon but the baby was born Riccardo Barbieri and she had to take care of him and she decided to come and work with me. Even if I have to admit that I am not for women in the laboratory I have to say that it was a stimulating experience.
the fascination of this fur work is always trying to discover new things because work must bring you joy, happiness.
if you don’t have these stimulations you’d better stay at home under the covers!
I think the same. But how did you manage to work with big fashion brands like Valentino?
In the last years I have also worked with Angelo Danzi I don’t know if you have met him
Yes I heard
Well, I worked with him for many years and we did marvellous things, then he stopped. I had a bit of difficulty because even though I had my own clients I worked mainly for him and when he stopped I was a bit so-so. I found a friend that put me in contact with Castiglioni who harangued me asking me if I was the Barbieri of Danzi – “yes I am Barbieri – “then don’t worry tomorrow morning someone will contact you to make arrangements to come and work with us. All this happened.
Slowly I started to work with them more and more also because we started to do fur coats for Valentino.
You use amazing fur techniques, can you tell me about the first?
I remember the first fur collection made with intarsia. Was called “the impossible mantles”, different types of fur skins that made the furs three-dimensional
“from there we started to do things more and more difficult, we arrived to made intarsia of flowers, butterflies, animals…”
Certainly my followers would want to ask you this question. What are your favourite fur techniques and with which types of fur skins?
I don’t have a particular preference.
I like all of them. I don’t like male minks, I like female minks for their lightness.
Do you like working with fox, chinchilla or sable?
Mink is certainly the fur that works with all techniques and you can do anything you want with mink skins. The others require more attention… you cannot do everything, but many things.
With mink everything is possible.
What message would you give to young people who want to work in the fur field? What is your advice? Because, for example, now there is a Finnish university that is unique in the world, an applied science university that gives you the possibility to get a degree in the applied science of fur. It has just started, and a few months ago I promoted it on my blog welovefur.com. They have had few enrolments. What advice would you give to a young person who wants to work in the fur field?
If they think about earning they will never enter. They have to get into the fur world as into other craft professions for the pleasure of doing that job because it is so stimulating and imaginative.
If you have imagination this is your world.
But you also have to have a spark inside because if you start by asking “how much do I earn, how much will I learn?” It’s not the right job for you.
Do you think that the fur world will finish?
As long as there are women I don’t think the fur world will ever finish.
That is the most beautiful answer I have heard!
How can you imagine a woman without a fur coat? I feel bad when I go to the Milan centre and see everyone with the same winter coats, all with the same shoes… gym shoes… it’s rubbish!
There are women that are still full of femininity that know how to carry themselves and know how to dress in the right way at the right time, but this is now reserved to those people that still have these qualities.
Women are progress: if it weren’t for women would men change their car? They would change shoes or would put on sneakers in every occasion instead of wearing beautiful varnished shoes… They do it because there are women… there are beings like you.
Thank you what a compliment! =)
It’s the truth! In fact I think that working for women is the most beautiful thing in the world… working for you
Thank you, thanks very much it’s a beautiful compliment (I blushed)
Yes because that is how it is..these are the most beautiful things.
When I come here the clients that arrive with old furs inherited from their grandmother or mother in law or mother.. maybe a fur coat that have been in a wardrobe for 20 years never seeing the light of day, I feel a duty to transform them.
I wanted to know something about your son Riccardo. When did you start work here with your dad?
Officially I started in 2007
What did you do before that?
Before I helped him because anyway I was born in the furrier’s too but you know.. your father’s job… you see the enormous sacrifices he makes, the difficulties so you also look for something different.
I worked as real estate agent, flight attendant for two years since the airways failed and i back to work with my father.
And were you happy?
Yes yes… I pushed him to enter…
Also because I needed help. I couldn’t do it alone any more… I could do it but it was very tiring… when he joined I could think a bit more about my wife as I had neglected her a little so I was in favour of his joining and my wife was happy because she had her son close.
But now it’s your passion too? What do you deal with exactly?
We are parctically specular. If there is no cohesion on the other side you can’t make it.
When did you get the idea of doing your own collection?
The idea of doing our own fur collection, to renew ourselves to launch this new fur project came about last year. It came because we needed to express something new. To start again to draw and create something for me!
What shall I tell my followers? That now you are launching the new fur capsule collection?
Yes exactly! A fur collection of unique pieces rich with of particular techniques that I might dare call fantastic!
A collection of furs full of colours that represent our creativity.
The inspiration? Because I will have to give my followers a sneak preview… Go on, give me a sneak preview…
I can’t! It’s top secret! 😉
Ah ok. It will be something special!
What I can tell you is that it will be fantastically light. The epitomy of fur lightness with references to art!
The event will be September October, near the Milan Fashion Week 2018
Our motto is in fur nothing is impossible!
I believe that you can do anything if you want it, in the furrier’s. As I said before when these clients come with their old furs – this is the most stimulating part of my work as furrier instead of making big brands fur coats. I much prefer redoing my clients’ furs. I can even convince some of them to dye to make different colours. To others I proposed differently models: if the client does not agree and does not share my ideas I tell her straight away that I can’t help her. And then there’s the fight with the client because I don’t want to do fur collars because
I don’t like fur collars, I would rather propose a fur scarf! But again a fur collar NO!
But sorry, these will be also furs with ruined and so unusable fur skins so what do you do?
There are few I can’t work. If it is kept well I can do it if it isn’t kept well I say look Madam, throw it or give it away because I would be taking your money for nothing.
I don’t do fur collars but I do all the rest!
I also do what my other colleagues think impossible.
Thanks for this beautiful interview you are two special people.
Here below are the contacts of Revilo Pellicce
Address: Via Gianfranco Zuretti 52 Milano -Italy
Phone: +39 02 66 97 537
PS1: Oliviero and Riccardo Barbieri of Revilo Pellicce Haute Fourrure laboratory love to use Instagram and prefer to be contacted by mobile whatsapp or directly via Instagram – follow them they will share the preview of their amazing fur collection. @revilo.pellicce
PS2: LOVE THEM <3