Monday, July 26, 2010

Milan's Master Hatter

From the WSJ an interesting article on the demise of craftsmanship

Today, Mr. Borghi is 70 years old, but he can still be found working in the shop from dawn to dusk at least six days a week.
He mostly works alone, relying on his wife and a friend for help when the orders pile up. He has no apprentice, and past attempts to teach younger generations have proved unsuccessful. "The first thing they ask is 'How much are you gonna pay me?'" says Mr. Borghi. "Then they ask 'Do I have to work weekends, too?'"
He doesn't say it, but the contempt is clear in his voice and expression. While it is tempting to dismiss Mr. Borghi's critiques as simple intergenerational mistrust, it is equally difficult to imagine the young, iPhone-equipped Italians lounging around in the piazza nearby spending their days as the septuagenarian maestro does, hunched over an ancient wooden desk, struggling to get this fold just right or adjust that feather to the correct height. "The hardest part is finding talented hands," he says. "I could teach the rest."

I find it interesting that in a high fashion city like Milan, a master craftsman can't find good help.  Aren't there fashion students who want to learn the skill of bespoke hat making and maybe be the next Philip Treacy?

Luckily, his and other Italian master craftsman's skills are being documented on film.
Recently an Italian company called Valore Italiano, or "Italian Quality," began filming Mr. Borghi and other artisans like him as part of an initiative to create a visual documentary of their skills that can be used to teach future generations. "These master craftsmen are national treasures," says Mario Pirolli, president of Valore Italiano and artificer of the initiative. "We have to try and salvage what we can before their knowledge and experience are lost for good."

Excellent, because fashion wouldn't be as much fun without great hats
Don't you agree?
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WendyB said...

Doesn't it often seem that just as some great skill is dying out, a contrarian youngster comes along in time to revive it? Hopefully that will happen again.

I want a cloud-of-butterflies hat!

teawithonesugarplease said...

When I was a Fashion Student, we were given a chance to learn millenary and it was a great additional skill to have just to be able to appreciate the craft.

Miss Cavendish said...

That butterfly hat is a favourite. How I love a whimsical topper!

Couture Allure Vintage Fashion said...

I definitely agree. Have you watched the film "Jack Taylor of Beverly Hills"? It says the same thing about bespoke menswear. It's a dying art and there are no new tailors coming up who know how to do it.

Mardel said...

That butterfly hat is a favorite! I posted it to my blog and have it as one of my screen savers. I do worry about the loss of skilled craftmanship.

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