Roberta di Camerino

Roberta di Camerino (1920-2010): Italian fashion designer

The birth of the brand and the fortune of velvet bags

Roberta di Camerino is the brand name of Italian fashion designer Giuliana Coen Camerino (1920-2010) who combined her family name with that of her daughter Roberta to sign the green, red and blue velvet bags, embroidered with gold and coats of arms, designed during her forced stay in Switzerland to escape the racial laws.


Those bags appealed to the international world which, immediately after the war, had returned to Venice, Giuliana’s hometown, and to an important fashion journalist, Elsa Robiola, who published them in Bellezza. Well before the made-in-Italy bomb exploded, triggered by the Florentine fashion shows, the designer, like Emilio Pucci, was already a winner in the USA.


Maria Pezzi, in her book of memories Una vita dentro la moda, written with Guido Vergani, recounts: “It was 1952. One September, in Venice. On the motorboat going from the Hotel Europa to the Lido, Elsa Maxwell, the journalist who had made a career out of gossiping about the world, was clutching a red and green velvet bag in her hands, a pretty little trunk called Bagonghi made by Roberta di Camerino.

The actress Eleonora Rossi Drago got on at the Danieli pier with the same bag and, as she passed another motorboat, the Hollywood comedian spitefully saw another Bagonghi in a black and beige edition. I was not surprised. I had been the first reporter to write about Giuliana and her success in America.

The story

I knew her story: her rich and happy youth in Venice; her escape with her husband from the Nazi roundups, she disguised as a nun, holding her newborn son in her arms, he disguised as a priest and death at her heels; the first handbag for herself, a bucket bag, unpacking an old bag; the “would you do me too? “from a lady in Lugano; the return home and the launching of the Roberta di Camerino, relying on the extraordinary craftsmanship of Venice, especially that of the gondolas: for the fastenings and studs, the brass specialists; for the velvets, the masters of drawing and hollowing out the fabric. Giuliana became ‘la dogaressa’. In 1956, she was awarded the fashion Oscar, the Neiman Marcus Award.


From accessories to ready-to-wear wardrobe

Invited to the third edition of the Florence fashion shows in January 1952 as a boutique fashion signature, the designer extended her creativity to the wardrobe, with a search for simplicity and vivacity in clothes with linear shapes, suitable for travel, light in a suitcase.

Entering the Japanese market

In 1983, an important agreement was signed with Mitsubishi Corporation: Roberta di Camerino Far East was born and consolidated on the Japanese market. 1995 saw the relaunch on the Italian market with important licensing agreements.

The donation to the Palazzo Pitti Costume Gallery

In the same year, Roberta di Camerino donated clothing and accessories from the 1960s and 1970s to the Palazzo Pitti’s Galleria del Costume. Roberta Di Camerino Brand Diffusion Venezia joined the Brand Coordinator Lugano. Both were headed by Francesco Pellati, an industrialist from Liguria and Tuscany.

Pitti Palace Costume Gallery
Pitti Palace Costume Gallery

New production sectors: jewellery and homeware line

The brand’s owner, fashion designer Giuliana Di Camerino, is counting on the relaunch not only for the clothing sector – which she looks after personally with her niece Tessa Zanga – but also for the debut of two new production sectors: jewellery (an agreement has already been signed with Cozza Gioielli) and the household sector for bathrobes, towels, tablecloths and sheets, which will be produced by the Besana factory.


The company is back, in Italy and around the world, not only with a wide range of accessories but also with women’s ready-to-wear produced by Gibierre. 20 single-brand boutiques opened in Korea, Thailand and China.

The change of ownership

On 22 May 2007, the newspaper MFF reported the news that the brand had been purchased by the Sixty Group, but the transfer was actually made official in 2008.

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