Big News

The Proper Kit. It's a pop-up shop that happens every year in NYC. A one-day trunk show and state-side Mecca for menswear connoisseurs. It's the fruit of a collaboration between Style Forum and A&H Magazine to host some of the most renowned brands and retailers in the industry, from Carmina Shoemaker, to Beckett and RobbThe Bespoke Dudes Eyewear to No Man Walks Alone.  This year, L'Arte Nascosta is proud to join ranks with some of the best to debut two artisans for their first trunk show in New York.  

Here's what you need to know:


P a o l o  P e n k o

Goldsmith - Florence

Paolo is a classically trained Florentine goldsmith that has dedicated his career to researching and perfecting Renaissance methods of jewelry-making.  Inspired by the art and history of the city that surrounds him, Paolo's handmade creations are rich in timeless symbolism and can be customized to best suit the customer's personal philosophy and values.


Read more about Paolo HERE, and HERE

You can view his website HERE


E m i l i o  C o l o n n a 

Leathersmith - Rome

Inspired by rugged American-made workwear, Emilio Colonna applies his skills as a leathersmith to produce a collection of watchstraps, wallets, belts and other leather accessories that evoke a similar spirit. His philosophy is simple: it's worth it to work with only the best raw materials. This is how Emilio ensures that each one of his products will last a lifetime . . . and get better with age. 


You can view his website HERE.


I created this blog to share stories about Italy's great artisanal talents.  It's the cornerstone of a larger dream, which is to explore the "artisanal experience" with you, the reader.  I'm excited to another step along this path, and it is a pleasure to do so with The Proper Kit. 


Come join us on

Saturday, November 5, 2016 - 10.30 - 19.00

at 28 west 36 street, b/w 5th & 6th ave

to RSVP:


I'm of the conviction that every product, beyond it's own DNA, is like a blank canvas.  A true masterpiece emerges when you stop treating it with white gloves and fearlessly break it in over time. Then you can really wear it with ease and comfort. A few weeks ago, I wrote about my A.L.I.C.E Pack - a vintage 1969 military issue rucksack that, since its retirement from my childhood "Army" games, has been repurposed into an excellent camera bag. It now graces my "the-longer-you-have-it-the-better-it-gets" collection, which includes a variety of other items like ripped Levis, worn-out shirts, battered shoes.. the list goes on. For example, take this ISAIA shirt you see me wearing here. The cuffs are worn through, but I've earned those tears...  The same can be said of my BARBANERA Gatsby lace-ups (also pictured here): they are beaten, broken and scuffed. But as Sergio Guardì (one of the creators of the brand) said, they have "soul." And that there qualifies them to be the best pair of shoes I own...

I have the same "rugged" philosophy with my OMEGA Speedmaster, the most expensive thing I've ever bought myself. When shopping around, I wanted a watch with heritage - something that could accompany me on my adventures to the moon and back (figuratively speaking, of course), and this historic chronograph, which Buzz Aldrin took to the moon and back (literally) seemed an appropriate choice. 

There was one problem, though. I had a hard time making it my own. After two years of wearing it almost every day and being able to account for nearly every scratch around its bezel, the watch still felt like it belonged more to Omega than to me. I decided the issue came down to the bracelet. It felt bulky, and the polished links made my watch look more like jewelry than the tool that I wanted it to be.

So I decided to take action and try a nylon NATO strap on for size (I ordered it from HODINKEE). In no time, the watch finally joined ranks with my A.L.I.C.E. pack, my favorite ISAIA shirt and my Barbanera's. It finally looks like the watch I've always wanted. Actually, I'm thinking of riding this wave further and commissioning a custom watch strap from THIS AWESOME LEATHERSMITH that I met in Rome... Stay tuned for further developments. 

Mazzanti Piume: an oasis for the most discerning labels in haute couture

Piles, wracks, clotheslines rife with feathers.  Master artisans work diligently over jigs and sewing-machines to arrange them into elegant cascades of color and texture.  All the while, a muffling hum fills the room: tumblers that dry freshly dyed plumes.  It's orderly chaos, the kind that only the best are capable of managing. 

Mazzanti Piume is indeed the best.  Founded in Florence over 80 years ago, Mazzanti is one of the last remaining ateliers specialized in feather embellishments and accessories.  The craft used to be much more popular, especially in the days when women commonly adorned their hats with feathers.  With changing trends, though, women laid their hats aside and the demand for artisans specialized in this art drastically decreased. Some chose to industrialize at the expense of quality. Others, like Mazzanti Piume, chose to shift their focus exclusively on commissions for their more prestigious clients.  

Today, the atelier is run by Duccio (pictured below).  Thanks to his foresight, the family name has become inextricably tied to the magical world of high fashion.  In fact, his workshop is a common destination for discerning creative directors of the most prestigious maisons that comb the world in search of craftsmen capable of transforming their vision into reality.  Duccio and his team have yet to let them down. 

You would be hard pressed to find a haute couture garment with feathers on it that hasn't passed through this workshop: Dolce & Gabbana (pic 1), Oscar della Renta (pic 2), Chanel (pic 3), Gucci (pic 4). The list goes on...

I recently visited Duccio in the family workshop and had the opportunity to see him and his artisans at work. I had seen the finished product countless times on runways and in the window displays that line Fifth Avenue. But, I never could have imagined the intense manual labor and pain-staking attention to detail that goes into affixing a single feather to a dress... Not to mention several hundred for an entire collection!! 

My visit to Mazzanti's workshop was a snapshot glimpse into the complex world behind luxury runway curtains.  It was truly a privilege to see Duccio working alongside his artisans. I witnessed a magical world where elegance and quality are top priorities.  They are foremost on a Creative Director's mind when designing a collection, just as they are the first consideration of Duccio and his artisans when deciding how, and where to place every single feather. 


You can pay a visit to Mazzanti Piume's site HERE

Our you can learn more about their in-house collection called Nanà Firenze HERE