- The Origin: Lucia Lorenzo Ginestrone
- Collaboration With Luxury Fashion Houses
- Distinctive Elements
- Borbonese Acquired By Van Cleef & Arpels
- 100th Anniversary
- Current Situation
Borbonese started as a humble workshop that produced jewels, accessories from ribbons to bows, gloves to hats, and shawls. The company supplied the most prestigious tailors in Turin, a city that was, at the time, very aware of couture and a small Italian capital of fashion. In 1910 Lucia Lorenzoni Ginestrone, an established milliner, took over the workshop and Borbonese was born.
Later in 1950, thanks to the help of Lucia’s son, Umberto Borbonese Ginestrone, along with his friend Edoardo Calagno, they worked to help run the family business. Borbonese successfully developed an eclectic and sophisticated aesthetics in creating jewellery made of innovative forms and peculiar materials.
Through 1960 Borbonese became highly influencing and gained trust from various luxury fashion houses to create numerous accessories to complement their collections. It was the creation of jewellery combined with great imagination and exquisite workmanship that made the brand so popular. The ability of the company to establish a harmonious connection between clothing and jewellery is why the most important fashion houses want to work with it. Among the most prestigious fashion houses were Fendi, Valentino, Ungaro, Galitzine and Yves Saint Laurent, who appreciated the inspiration, experimentation and beauty of its costume jewellery.
During the 1970s, Borbonese began the partnership with the Bologna-based expert in leathergoods, Redwall, owned by Rossi family. This well-grounded collaboration brought a revolutionary line of high quality leather bags which combine light, unlined and restructured forms with a unique softness and resistance. At this point, the firm found their distinctive element of its griffe in a new material that was soft like lamb skin. With colors in a beige or honey color, and treated to reveal a “partridge-eye” dot effect, in bags, cases and a wide range of leather goods. Also, some of their items are manufactured with plasticized fabric, and those showing a dot effect called “graffiti,” in beige, very dark brown, blue, light blue, and black. It was the birth of the iconic O.P. or Occhio di Pernice (Eye of Partridge).
Borbonese launched its infamous bag Luna to commemorate the landing of the first man on the moon, followed by Sexy, Tango, and Mambo which remains as a cult classic until today. Borbonese is the pioneer to affix its logo on zippers along with the distinctive rivet which become an everlasting signs of the brand. Much imitated, but never equalled, Borbonese bags are light, practical, always elegant, and now a classic. The most acclaimed photographers during this era, including Giampaolo Barbieri, Helmut Newton, and Satoshi Saikusa contributed for Borbonese’s advertising campaigns.
Starting from 1980s, Borbonese invented an actual lifestyle and became one of the most notable Italian brand by expanding its production of ready-to-wear, accessories for both men and women, footwear, fur products, and sophisticated line of home furnishings to confirm the brand’s status in the luxury industry that creates a true style of Global Living.
In 1992 the Sexy Bag celebrates its 20th birthday. At the big party in Tokyo, it is presented in a limited edition of 100 pieces with accessories in 18-carat gold. A year later, after twenty years of working together, Redwall, which operates in the same field of bags and leather accessories, takes over the brand. Then, in 1999 the first Borbonese women’s prêt-à-porter Collection produced by Redwall is presented for the Autumn-Winter season in Milan. On March 27th of that same year the French-American family Arpels, current owner of 20% of Van Cleef & Arpels, acquires 50% of the company. That same day at a shareholders’ meeting the corporate name is changed to Rossi 1924 Spa.In September 2000 a line of women’s wear is added to the accessories Collection.
The year 2001 ends with a break even and a turnover of €21 million. In 2002 the brand appoints creative director, Alessandro Dell’Acqua. She designs a line of women’s clothing that is presented during Milano Moda Donna and meant to accompany the accessories line.
Officially in November, Arpels purchases the remaining 50% of the company, acquiring the shares owned Dario Rossi and Alberto Vacchi. Claude Julien Arpels becomes managing director, while Alberto Vacchi remains on the board of directors. For 2004, the Arpels family considers making a strong effort in the North American and Far East markets.
In 2009 Borbonese presented the Spring/Summer 2010 collection during Milan Fashion Week in the via della Spiga store. This was a successful event in collaboration with contemporary artist Amedeo Martegani, who transformed the boutique’s windows into a theatre and formed the perfect scenographic backdrop which tell a story of seven Samurai, inspired by the sharp cutting that creates the form of O.P. bag. Accompanied by the sound of sabers, slashing knives, and metal sound by musician Giuseppe Ielasi, the installation really caught the attention and created a novel ambience throughout the store.
In 2010 to celebrate 100 years of Borbonese, the brand initiated a special project in collaboration with Roy Lichtenstein Foundation to create the Art Bags, a limited collection consists of twelve bags that reproduce some of the pop artists masterpieces. This exclusive collection was exhibited at Triennale, Milan. Also, Borbonese 1910 was launched, a collection of iconic Borbonese bags dedicated in honour of the centenary celebration under the creative direction of Gabriele Colangelo, a talented young Italian fashion designer with an innate propensity for craft fur and embroidery.
In 2013 a red sealing-wax Borbonese logo became a distinguished symbol that introduces a new direction of the company. It’s a decision to stay focus on the core business of the brand, creating impeccable collection of bags and accessories, derive from never-ending research into new materials and techniques that make every product unique and special. Iconic bags of Borbonese were reinterpreted by using new combination of leather and metal-crafting techniques to give a modern and contemporary impression.
In September 2015 at Milan Fashion Week, Borbonese launched a new book titled “Inspirations” edited by Ginevra Elkann and published by Rizzoli in its headquarter on Via Monte di Pietà. In this book, Borbonese poetically and imaginatively presented to the audience of how the brand always took artistic inspirations from nature, which has characterised in the production and its signature Italian craftsmanship.
Later, in November the brand became the sponsor of the Pinacoteca Giovanni e Marella Agnelli in Turin for the exhibition featuring American pop artist, Ed Ruscha titled “Mix Master” curated by Paolo Colombo. This exhibition consisted of photography, painting, and books by Ed Ruscha which tell a story about the transformation of American life over the past half-century.
In 2016 Borbonese sponsored the exhibition titled “Riflessioni / Reflections” featuring Rosemarie Trockel and the Turin collections. Also, in September they opened their new flagship store in Corso Matteotti 8, presenting a new concept that reinforces the brand’s image in Italy.
In April 2017, Borbonese made significant investment on its Global Living collection and presented a new home collection, as well as furnitures during Milan Design Week. And in order to reinforce Borbonese’s logo, all the structures of products are designed with round lines. Later in September, Borbonese launched a new footwear collection for both men and women, and presented its spring/summer 2018 footwear collection during international footwear show.
Borbonese remains as an Italian luxury brand which constantly cultivate its perspective to meet the needs of todays contemporary society. Borbonese is an established Made In Italy brand that values its rich heritage and tradition, craftsmanship, and always strive for perfection. Never ending research for the latest technology and being innovative, Borbonese always combine precious materials and refined techniques with masterly crafting to emphasise details and characteristics of each unique product. Borbonese is “The New Spirit of Tradition”.