SS17 - Italy Story

Posted: Mar 02 2017


You realize you’re in Italy as soon as you see the colors. Moss green. Rich caramel. Bright golden shutters against vanilla-cream stucco walls. Marble. Everywhere you look, you see refinement, age, simplicity and beauty.

That’s the Italy I love.

Two years ago I won the Nashville Fashion Forward Fund, funds raised by the team at Nashville Fashion Week and awarded by the Community Foundation, for me to invest in research and development. I knew right then and there, I was going to Italy. The leather capital of the world, Italy is full of tradesmen—true artists that have passed down their craft, sometimes to the third and fourth generation. So, with nothing but a few names in hand, my husband, Craige, our son, Luke and I boarded a plane—and we made our way to the birthplace of the Renaissance.

 Not wanting to overwhelm Luke with the hustle and bustle of Florence, we booked a carriage house on the outskirts of the city through Kid and Coe. I had no idea what I was booking, but it had a pool, a view of the countryside and enough space for a rambunctious boy to burn off some energy. The fact that it was in San Miniato meant nothing to me. Yet.

Soon after we arrived, I realized we hadn’t booked just any carriage house, but the carriage house to a massive estate located on a vineyard. Luckily for Luke, there was a family nearby with three triplet boys about his age. We met and mingled with the family, having wine while the boys played.

italy tuscany leather

During one of those early conversations, I came to learn that San Miniato is the leather tannery capital of Italy. In other words I was in heaven and didn’t even know it. This quiet little town had so much more to offer than I had ever expected or dreamed. We snuck through back alleyways and discovered inspiration around every corner. Walking into a shoe factory in Los Angeles is like walking into a storage unit; here, the entrance is a 100-year old marble staircase. I relished the opportunity to tour shoe factories, meet artists, touch bolts of luscious leather and learn the intricacies of the trade.

Leather hides, italy, tannery

shoe factory, italy, tuscany

shoe factory, marble, staircase, tuscany, florence

Even just wandering the streets (a favorite pastime) proved fruitful. The houses were a standard vanilla or creamy white, but the shutters always surprised me with their vibrant colors. Primary, impactful, and simplistic—the structure and color of the architecture became the inspiration for the colors of my Spring Collection.

tuscany, shutters, ss17, florence

tuscany, italy, florence

ceri hoover, shoes, goldenrod, moss, green, black, mule

As much as we adored the quietness of San Miniato, we also loved retreating into the city. I can’t tell you how many ounces of olive oil and balsamic vinegar I tasted while strolling through the San Lorenzo Market in Florence. And a day-trip to Orvieto introduced us to a cosmopolitan city on a hill full of surprisingly high-end fashion and devious food.

orvieto, italy

Ten days was not nearly enough. But thankfully, we have worked tirelessly to pour the details and colors from that trip into our newest collection. The Alys Tall tote in Goldenrod—my favorite piece in the Spring Collection—reminds me of my time in Italy. With its vibrant color and sculptural details, this handbag is just like the Italy I love.

alys tall tote, goldenrod, ceri hoover, tote, handbag


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