Monday, November 30, 2009

Shopping in Rome...EMPRESA

La gente (people) always ask me why I have this overwhelming desire to live in Rome again when moda (fashion) is in Milan. I tell them, "I didn't choose Rome, Rome chose me." I know Milan is where most fashion is headquartered and if I find a job there, believe me, I am on the next plane. But when I pass the Colosseo, Vittoriano, Piazza del Popolo or even cross the Tiber river, something in my heart just fills with joy and astonishment. It's like when I lived in Florence and I would see the Ponte Vecchio or David in Piazza della Signoria I would always think, OMG, I live here!!.And usually whatever problem or worry I had would vanish, even if only for a moment.

And there is fashion in Rome. Maybe most designers have headquarters in Milan, but there are a few Romani who are still based in La Citta Eterna (the Eternal City). One of my favorite negozi (stores) is EMPRESA. There are actually five of them, three for men and two for women. My Empresa is located on Via dei Giubbonari 25/26 between Largo di Torre Argentina and Campo dei Fiori. That also happens to be the store where Gabriele, one of the five propretari (owners) spends most of his time. For me Empresa is one of those few stores where I feel as if design had me in mind when they there were designing, making me their Muse. I can find something for almost every and any occasion from an aperitivo doppo lavoro (cocktails after work) to an evening at Teatro Argentina. Everytime I went into the store it was busy. On one particular day a customer was there for three hours trying on every article the salesman brought him. This was one of Empresa's regular customers who comes in from another paese (country) to restock his wardrobe. Then there was the Spanish husband and wife duo with two kids in tow shuttling back and forth between the men's and women's store across la strada (street).

 I guess Empresa could almost be called a "lifestyle" store since they carry everything a man could want, except underwear. Outerwear, wovens, knits, accessories, bottoms and even un tasco (helmut) for your motorino (Vespa). Every year, Empresa comes up with something special to add to it's assortment. This season it happened to be watches which complemented the looks of the season. On some occasions it has been a houseware item which is proudly displayed along side the clothing. This is the bellezza (beauty) of having a small yet successful business, you can try different things and see what flies. If nothing else, you'll always keep your customers intrigued.

There are two designers, both with very different styles but together they create one harmonious collection. Everything is fatto in Italia (made in Italy) because design is very detailed oriented and hands on. They don't just design something and hand off to production, but instead they follow through from initial concept until it is on the floor. Just a few weeks ago a coat came in and was already nella vetrina (in the window) when design noticed that the sleeve was slightly bigger than spec. Every piece was returned to the factory and corrected. Like that might happen at Macy's!! Even when design collaborates with another design firm whether it be for fabric or styling, the item is changed so that it esclusivo (exclusive) to Empresa.

Another reason for Empresa's popularity and following is it's customer service. Recently un cappotto (coat) purchased five years ago was returned because the owner ripped the sleeve in an incidente (accident) on his motorino. Empresa took the jacket back, matched the leather and had the sleeve repaired. Non c'era un problema!! For now, you will have go to the Eternal City to find Empresa but l'anno prossimo (next year) you will also be able to find one should you make your way north to Venezia (Venice). And I have it on good authority that should the right partner be found, maybe we can expect to find one in New York CIty's Soho or Meatpacking District...magari!!! Here are just a few of my favorite things...

Mi piace molto questa sciarpa (I really like this scarf) which wraps, buttons close and has two pockets on the end as well as these this pullover neck muffler all modeled by Gabriele.

Maglie (sweaters) cover the full spectrum from textured 1/2 button cardigan with shawl collar.

Lightweight, almost transparent knits in vee- and turtleneck styles with leather elbow patch details...

An assortment of cappotti e giacce (coats and jackets) wool plaid...microfiber with plaid lining filled with cashmere. For those who must follow the latest trend, the jacket on the right is reversible..from very shiney (i.e.Moncler) to treated cotton on the other. It comes in chocolate, bright blue and charcoal.

Leather jackets with functional details like buttonholes on cuffs...

Pants come in an array of styles and fabrications from pinwale cord, to velvet, to check and plaid patterns. Empressa takes traditional fabrics and patterns like glenplaid and uses a fabric belt and adds a crinkle front to make a fresh new look from something traditional.

Overall tone of the store for this season is brown and green but here we have grey with a shot of bright yellow... in a windbreaker and accessories like a thermos and pencil sharpener in leather.

Blazers for casual evenings or a night at La Teatro Argentina...

Le scarpe (shoes) in assorted colors and styles with a vintage, used feel...

Yet I am drawn to these two...dressy with faux fur lining for cold, windy NY nights and these pindot, blk/wht vinyl with curyl acrylic lining...just for fun!!

Camicie (shirts) and accessories for finishing touches...

Safe but stylish in this chocolate casco (helmut) with leather detail....

And last but not least soft leather bags for every day use or a weekend in Capri, Genova or Palermo...

Adesso..ciao e buon lavoro...

EMPRESA  Via dei Giubbonari, 25/26 (Campo de' Fiori) - Tel.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Tee Time

Now that it's the middle of August and summer is finally in full swing of course we have winter clothing in the stores. I never could figure that out but who am I to debate the oracles of fashion. I'm still very much in tee shirt/polo mode and don't want it to end any time soon. While most of us like the seasons of the east coast, I'd prefer to hold off on the next for a bit longer. And I love my white jeans, whether it is "in" or "out" to wear white I won't be denied the one thing that signals summer for me. Yes, I know some people say color is seasonless but I'm from the old school. I will wear white after labor day but once the temperature drops below 70...they have to go away till next Spring...or a nice winter break in the Virgin Islands.

Thanks to my friend Stu, I was able to attend MRketNY a menswear show for spring/summer 2010. So while some of you are already in Fall mode, my thoughts are already on next spring which hopefully I'll spend lying on a beach in Sardinia. Here are some of my favorite tees made to be worn loud and proud. So save the Hanes for layering underneath something and step out in something a bit more adventurous...

Bright florals splashed allover...

Or strategically placed...I love the idea of mixing florals (from tropical to small bud-like) with checks or plaids. Lots of men won't wear florals unless they're on a Hawaiian island but mixing it up with other menswear patterns just might get them out of their Fruit of the Loom's.

If you can't get him into anything floral then at least try something graphic like these zig-zag or spiral patterns...

And while these last two are definitely not for the faint of heart, there is something about them that I like. The one on the right reminds me of something Versace would have know "back in the day".

Okay so you're not a tee shirt guy, you like your polos. No problem but please be a bit more adventurous than an alligator or pony...Look for interesting details on collars, cuffs and pockets. Or even simple details like numbers or anchors can take a plain polo to the next level.

I always like pieced, solid/pattern sweater like knits.

And for those who just won't budge from tradition, you can't get any more traditional than below but at least they have some interesting collar and shoulder details...

A presto,

All tees and purple/blk polo courtesy of:
Yashi Yamamuri/Ital Wear Inc.
contact: Tarcisio Paciocco
phone: 734-207-0441

All other polos courtesy of
CODICE - Schuyler 4 Ltd.
phone: 212-752-0003

Thursday, June 11, 2009


Okay, so it's been awhile and I should have done this in time for Mother's~Father's Day but what can I say. I've been in a slump!! But gift giving ocassions always abound so here are two places which will give you some great gift options. And of course treating yourself to a little treat never hurt either. Head down to Thompson street in Soho. My first stop was LePage at 72 Thompson. www. 212-966-2646

If you'd like to add some color to your home but don't want to be overwhelmed...try one many items at LePage. Cec LePage sculpts clear or frosted Lucite into vases, candle holders, flowers, furniture and other objects d'art. As you enter the store you see a rainbow of beautiful colors. Upon further inspection, you realize most of the items are clear or frosted and it's only the sides that are painted with a sun and water safe pigment formula to give it color. Shapes are curvy and sensuous geometrics inspired by women, music and the raw energy of New York. Many pieces are based on the female form which may subconsciously be the reason why Cec has such a big male following.
Objects d'art, vases, candle holders and lamps...

Bud vase...the thermometer...the beaker...

A crayola box of color options.

Clear or frosted from the front....color impact from the side.

One of my favorite pieces was the Obama Sculpture. I asked Cec what the sculpture represents and this was her response "When President Obama was nominated to rule our country, this sculpture was born. Elated with the news I awoke the next morning ran to my studio and proceeded to sketch out my inspiration. A new dawn, one of hope was about to begin. The artwork in colors in the B represents the red, white and blue of our flag. The chocolate signifies a new multi racial consciousness that our country will experience. The transparent rod piercing the O symbolizes the transparency of government he promised to deliver.

Well I'm with you lady...a new day, a new dawn, some hope and faith is exactly what we need!!

Across the street for LePage is MEG COHEN DESIGN SHOP at 59 Thompson. 212-966-3733 My friend Kate turned me on to this one.

Vintage is not my thing but even I found a few interesting items. Meg Cohen is not just a store, it's an art gallery/showroom/laboratory. Meg mainly specializes in cashmere accessories (scarves, hats, gloves)which are sold worldwide including Paul Smith, Ron Herman and Fred Segal in the U.S. Her collection is set amongst vintage objects she has collected over the years. Meg loves owning a store noting that is has turned out to be more fun than she expected. Having a store allows her to experiment with different concepts and if something doesnt' work she simply takes it back home.

Lt weight cashmere and cashmere blends...the striped skinny scarf

Hats, gloves....The Patty Scarf

Home furnishings...

Globes...vintage cookbooks and mexican tops...

Vintage letter necklace and mens' cufflinks that snap together....

Meg is currently showing a group of photos, paintings and drawings by five artists called Magical Realism. She has also recently started carrying a collection of conversation sparking hair accessories called BEAUXAIR, a collaboration between Alex Wolf, artist/designer, and Kurt Rausch, florist. (

And when your done with Meg Cohen Design Shop you'll find yourself across from 60 Thompson, one of New York's newest boutique hotels. Stop in for a bite to eat at Kittichai (Thai) or just rest your dogs at Thom Bar.

Well that's all for now folks. Get to shopping and stimulating our economy.... case you did not know, if you click on the photo it enlarges. It enlarges VERY BIG because I have not yet figured out how to make it smaller though there is a way. I'm a work in progress :)

A presto,