Florence’s Luisa via Roma might have started out as a small hat boutique in the 1930s, but over 80 years down the line the luxury multibrand store is definitely known for pushing the boundaries – both in terms of the cutting-edge buying as well as its rapid expansion online. Ever since launching luisaviaroma.com in 1998, the boutique has proved to be one of the most trusted virtual shopping destinations, adding yet another dimension to its three-storey space in Via Roma. Now celebrating the 11th anniversary of its online presence, the store has opened its doors to bloggers, inviting over 26 online stars - including Disney Roller Girl, Face Hunter and Bryan Boy - to style and shoot their own winter looks, all part of the third edition of FIRENZE 4 EVER, which happened last week in Florence. We spoke to Luisa’s CEO Andrea Panconesi to find out more about this exciting collaboration.
Dazed Digital: How did the idea of Firenze 4 Ever come about?
Andrea Panconesi: It all started by chance. For the first edition, we wanted to throw a big party and invite all our friends. That also included the bloggers. But then we thought all those guys would be coming from quite far away – after all, a lot of them live in China, Japan or even the Philippines. So we wanted to so something that would seem more practical and beneficial for their own work. As we planned the event for the beginning of the season, the timing also seemed perfect. We thought we could close the store to the public and let the bloggers play around with the new stock.
DD: You also enable them to work with a team of professional photographers and make-up artists, which is new to the way some of them work.
Andrea Panconesi: A lot of the bloggers take pictures themselves, but some of them don’t. By organizing the whole production – make-up, hair, photographers and assistants – we wanted to make sure they get a level of organization they don’t really experience in everyday life. What is unique about the event is also the samples we provide. A lot of the garments were made especially for us by the designers we work with. What do we expect in return? Definitely high quality work.
DD: What are your criteria when picking your guests?
Andrea Panconesi: We don’t look at the rankings. We only care about the quality of their work. What stands out to us is unique style, no matter if it’s a selection of photos on the website, wardrobe choices or the designers they admire. It all started very slow, but right now we have over 200 bloggers who say they would love to come. Each season we invite half of the group that has already been here, because they already understand how we work. The other half is new. By doing that we give them a chance to socialize, make new friends. I believe the new generation is a lot more open than the old one. There is no jealousy between them, which is really great.
DD: What is it about blogs that appeals to you so much and why do you think they bear so much relevance to Florence?
Andrea Panconesi: Florence is the land of collectors. The museums here are the collections of a certain person or family, and each of them has its own identity. Every object inside them tells a story and is related to another as well. I do think blogs are similar to those museums in a way.