In Florence‘s Oltrarno district there’s a boutique as fascinating as a museum, a museum of 20th-century fashion.
This is the ‘other’ side of the Arno, across the river from the hustle and bustle of the unique sights, the tourist traps and mainstream shopping. It’s a neighbourhood of independent traders, where there are still craft workshops, bakeries and vinerie established generations ago alongside more recent antiques, interiors and vintage shops. Here, then, in 2012, historic antiques dealer Albrici in Via dei Serragli branched out into fashion, vintage fashion, and opened a dedicated store next door. It’s called Recollection … Clever, that. And though the garments and accessories aren’t preserved in glass display cases, they do proclaim, in full colour, glorious shapes and not a little sparkle, the spellbinding history of haute couture through the 1900s.
Our clothes and accessories were once part of a collection, before dispersing in myriad combinations and eventually disappearing in forgotten closets. Here they are re-collected, stitch by stitch…
Of the thousands of items in the Albrici re-collection, many are one-off dresses, tailor-made in Italy. The rest are limited editions – including shoes and bags – by the loftiest of international stylists, bespoke millinery, and a vast and gleaming range of costume jewellery. All in near-pristine condition.
Where do they come from? Alberto Albrici smiles when asked, and then tells how new arrivals always stem from new encounters with fascinating women and that most intimate, memory-linked part of their lives: their wardrobes. When, for whatever reason, those memories are let go, they’re welcomed into the store to tell their stories. Like the breathtaking gala wardrobe of Pupa Carmine Serandrei.
Alberto likes to showcase vintage that looks modern, rather than pushing a retro or costume aesthetic. The joy of shopping for vintage, he says, is in discovering something unique, unexpected and irresistible, be it an opulent gown, a 1950s cocktail dress, a trim ’60s suit or a romantic outfit from the ’70s. The trick is then to take the vintage piece and play it again in a contemporary key, creating a distinctive style that looks utterly new.
Whether you’re on the lookout for that amazing, one-of-a-kind dress that’ll redefine your look (and you), or just fascinated by the phenomenon that is fashion, set aside a hour or two for Recollection next time you’re in Florence.