Fashion is history, culture.
But fashion is also femininity, fun, and values.
These are the keywords to describe Alessia Fattori Franchini’s style; founder of AFF (a communication atelier for fashion, jewelry, and lifestyle brands), aware of the importance of storytelling behind a brand and a product, over the years she has built a closet made of garments with strong creativity, timeless pieces, and accessories with unique details, which are combined in a balanced way, without forgetting that the real strength of a woman is her elegance in being and expressing herself.
Here is the story that Alessia, opening the doors of her walk-in closet, told us.
Growing up, how was your closet, and how has it evolved?
I have to say that my closet has evolved in terms of awareness and attention to research, I love looking for designers who are not necessarily famous because I like to give space and value to the creativity of emerging talents. I buy less and better, because I know the history of each brand, even for professional deformation, it’s something I pay attention to. I purchase garments that have strong creativity and precise storytelling.
And so far, what was the most interesting story?
One company whose message I am honored to have helped bring back to Italy is Van Cleef & Arpels, a French fashion house that was born from a love story. It has a beautiful storytelling, with very poetic and feminine pieces and collections. I am very proud to have contributed to re-build the story of a brand like Mario Valentino, one of the founders of the Camera Nazionale Della Moda Italiana, and for which we have curated a project starting from the heritage of the company. From that project, a book published by Schiera was born, and we then took it on tour around Italian universities.
Fashion is a part of culture because it tells a historical moment in which you’ve lived. I am happy to work with a company like Pasquale Bruni, we are doing a beautiful job of explaining the collections and creativity of its designer Eugenia Bruni. Among the projects that are part of my training, there is the fashion incubator, thanks to which I have brought many young designers to the attention of the media and therefore buyers. They are training projects that have helped me develop sensitivity about creativity and fashion, also focusing on content.
“I purchase garments that have strong creativity and precise storytelling.”
“Fashion is a part of culture because it tells a historical moment in which you’ve lived.”
How would you describe your relationship with fashion?
It’s a sharing relationship, I like to share fashion with people close to me, but it’s especially a cultural aspect because one thing is clothing and one another is fashion, I have great cultural respect for those who can create something that survives itself and the time in which it lives. This is the intellectual relationship, then there is also a female relationship that is playful, ironic, and fun, fashion is also something that can help women express part of their life and personality and enhance them. I believe in fashion as a way to enhance the person, both with accessories and with clothing.
What are the garments/accessories that better represent your style and what is your everyday look?
The garments that represent my style are timeless, which tell a casual elegance made of sartorial pieces mixed with smarter ones, for everyday duties. I love wearing double-breasted jackets and high-waisted trousers, then I like silk shirts and striped shirts. I also love t-shirts, I always like to balance to a look: for example, if I put a heavy fabric I pair it with a light one, if I put something that is visibly recognizable (although I do not do it often) I like to combine it with something very simple.
“Fashion is also something that can help women express part of their life and personality and enhance them…”
“…I believe in fashion as a way to enhance the person, both with accessories and with clothing.”
What would you say is the must-have in your wardrobe?
The necklace that I always wear, full of charms that are fetishes, memories, and symbols of many paths and creativity that I was lucky enough to share with artists and creatives.
Have you ever had an epic-fail related to your closet?
Can I say I ended on a military-themed party wearing a floral dress? [laughs]
What’s the piece of clothing you’re supposed to get rid of, but you can’t?
There are so many pieces of clothing that I should get rid of, which we should all get rid of, because we need a few things, if we pay attention we always wear the same things. I do not like the word “trend.” I do not like to buy trendy things because I like to have a very personal style, made of pieces with special details. I could safely give up half the things that are in my closet because I can be myself even with a white t-shirt.
I very much believe in accessories and jewelry, and, in my opinion, elegance doesn’t come from a woman’s closet, but from the way she moves, speaks, it is above all an elegance of thought. Some women can be much more elegant than women who wear clothes from the latest pret-a-porter outings because they can wear a pair of jeans and a white shirt and express thoughts and concepts that are much higher than those who can afford to have it all.
If you could only wear one brand or designer from here on out, who would you choose?
I could never [laughs]. For me it would mean to give up to a part of myself because for me fashion is creativity, I love creatives and mine is a creative work, I could never wear just a single brand.
“Elegance doesn’t come from a woman’s closet, but from the way she moves, speaks, it is above all an elegance of thought.”
You have a last-minute event and you’re not home. Where would you go for an emergency shopping session?
It depends on the event and the time because there is a time for each dress. I could tell you that I’d go to Mario Valentino to get shoes and a smile, because Mario Valentino’s shoes are beautiful, sexy, you can dance with them all night long. I could also choose an androgynous and masculine tailoring suit, with a double-breasted jacket, and for that, I’d go to Alberto Biani, while for flat shoes and loafers I’d go to Edhèn, because they’re tailor-made. I’d go to Sergio Rossi for something more sparkling, or I’d opt for Midnight 00 shoes, which are funny, or for a pair of Fabrizio Viti, Francesco Russo, or Amina Muaddi.
For something fun, I’d certainly choose Loewe or JW Anderson, and for a party, I’d go for No.21, Celine, which I particularly love, and Jacquemus. For a casual evening, I’d choose For Restless Sleepers and Jil Sander, which I use often and willingly. For a special bag, I’d buy something unique and personalized. If I had to choose something timeless, I would go to Bottega Veneta or Hèrmes. I can’t tell you where I’d go for a last-minute shopping session, because the real question is, “Give me a budget and an hour and I’ll tell you” [laughs].
“There is a time for each dress.”
In your closet, what do you have too many of?
I’d tell you that I do not have too many of anything, because my choices are always dictated by my passion for creativity, while also being sustainable, which means I don’t buy a lot and in a pondered way. I could have too many belts, it’s a detail that I love, I like them a lot and I buy them in all colors and in all kinds.
What are your must-have accessories?
The necklace full of pendants that I always wear, the ring with the snake which is symbolic, depending on how you wear it: it can defend you from the mistakes that you or others can make, according to whether the base of the snake’s head is facing you or others. I always wear the engagement ring that my husband designed for me, and I love Pasquale Bruni Star Flower in Diamonds and White Gold earrings that enclose the whole ear in its shape. And I always have coral with me, I love coral and turquoise very much.
“I always have coral with me.”
Color block or black?
How often do you reorganize your wardrobe?
I never reorganize it, it follows the flow and reality of my life.
What’s on top of your fashion wish list right now?
High-waisted Jil Sander pants in heavy organza, a custom-made tuxedo shirt, Messika earrings, a ring by Farnese fashion house Jewelry in white gold, diamonds, and emeralds, a custom straw bag handmade by a Capri craftsman, and an Eres swimsuit.
If you could describe your wardrobe with one word, which one would you choose?
Was there a look from a TV/movie series that left you speechless?
Michelle Pfeiffer’s white dress in “Scarface,” Sharon Stone’s white dress in “Casino,” Nicole Kidman’s underwear white tank top in “Eyes Wide Shut” and all of Chloë Sevigny‘s looks in all of her films. A beautiful film with unforgettable couture dresses is “Anna Karenina,” where Keira Knightley also wears Chanel jewelry. Cate Blanchett in “Ocean’s 8” and “Blue Jasmine” and, of course, Gwyneth Paltrow in “The Tenenbaums” and “The Talent of Mr. Ripley.”
What’s the book on your bedside table right now?
A biography of Peggy Guggenheim and I’m reading a book on neuroscience and communication.
What is your closet’s superpower?
It’s the clothes that remind me of the beautiful moments I was lucky enough to live.
What do you think will be the future of fashion and communication?
We are at a crucial stage of communication evolution due to the historical moment we are experiencing, where the pandemic has tragically affected the whole world. This pandemic has led to the digitization of communication. I have always been an ardent advocate for innovation in every industry, and I believe that this acceleration has led and will lead brands towards a greater awareness of the need to focus on values and storytelling, and therefore on content. Today brands need to change the way they tell themselves, they need to focus more on empathy and values.
I believe a lot in digital, I use it in a fun way myself: a novelty that we introduced post Covid-19 was the launch of the virtual office of AFF, to allow companies to present themselves even in a virtual way at a time like this. I do not believe that the virtual will replace the human part, I believe in integration: I believe, for example, that print and digital are two communicating vessels, so I think that the future of communication can only be the integration of all the necessary and possible tools to tell what are the values of a brand, a product and the history of those who create them.
“I believe that this acceleration has led and will lead brands towards a greater awareness of the need to focus on values and storytelling, and therefore on content.”
“Today brands need to change the way they tell themselves, they need to focus more on empathy and values.”
What are your next projects?
AFF is a full creative studio, specializing in press office, both corporate and product, and creating positioning storytelling. We leaf clients in the creation of advertising campaigns and strategies (media buying and media strategist), digital contents but especially in telling their history, their identity, and this can be done with words and images. I have always believed in method and professionalism, most of my team members are professional journalists, myself included, and so when we have to tell a story, we do it with texts that are consistent with the history of that brand for a total integration between digital and print.
In our next projects, this will be increasingly strong and obvious, because now companies need to rely on unique interlocutors, and we want to support companies, especially at a difficult time like this. The next projects will focus on the three sectors we deal with that are fashion, jewelry, and lifestyle. AFF today is increasingly focused on excellence, Italian, and international. I think that the word “luxury” is old-fashioned too many people have appropriated it, so I want to deal with excellence.