The Romans: Emi Fabbri’s handmade style

I don’t know how it works in your country but when Vincenzo and I announced our wedding, there was so much wedding organization advice that we got confused very soon. As for my wedding dress, after a few afternoons trying on dresses in some downtown shops with friends, mothers and grandmother Vittoria, all I knew for sure was that I wanted a completely handmade and tailor-made product just like Vincenzo’s creations. Fortunately, just a few months before the “yes, I do”, a friend took me to Emi’s Centro Studi, at number 26 of Salita de’ Crescenzi, between the Senate and the Pantheon. Emi is a style craftswoman who has collaborated with the great names of Italian fashion such as Valentino, Lancetti, Rocco Barocco and has taught at IED, the European Institute of Design for 23 years, but above all Emi is the person who, instead of proposing her ideas about my dress, asked me how I imagined it. This was the result: an elegant wedding dress that didn’t squeeze, pull, weigh, pinch, move, make false folds but perfectly interpreted the personality of the person who wore it, that is me and not “the bride”, this impossible to satisfy abstract ideal at that time I felt I was pushed to resemble.

Emi immediately told me that the most important thing was the fabric, because it is only by touching and choosing the exact fabric that the idea of the dress can take form. So, on our second appointment, we went to choose the perfect silk for my idea of a wedding dress and only after visiting three fabric stores and touching different qualities of silk (according to me, all very beautiful actually) Emi found what she had in mind: the silk of the right heaviness for my idea and also the right color for my purpose: “if you decide for a handmade dress because your future husband is a goldsmith, then this silk with golden reflections is the right choice”. Only then the lines of her face, contracted by the tension of the research all afternoon, relaxed and she started thinking about how to make the dress. I was overjoyed: how nice when someone instead of creating a problem, solves it for you, don’t you think!?

Over time, I have learned to appreciate the work of this artist not only for important clothes but also for everyday ones because wearing a shirt or pants tailor-made with quality fabrics gives me a feeling of pleasure that no pre-packaged garment has ever given, makes me feel special and even more confident. It was after meeting Emi that I finally understood how a non graduate friend of mine, who worked for an important Company, felt when once a month she had to go to Milan to meet her graduate colleagues who came from all over Italy! “You’re so great at your job!” I told her and it was true but she suffered from being the only one without an academic degree. So the night before departure, in order to overcome her perceived academic shortcoming, she spent time choosing the clothes, the right matches, the accessories and the jewels to put in her suitcase as presenting herself well in that context allowed her to express her personality at her best in front of her colleagues.

Emi’s art is also precious from another point of view: the re-actualization of wardrobes. How much space clothes occupy in our wardrobes that we no longer wear because they are out of fashion or out of size and that we don’t want to throw away because we have become attached to them? If the fabric is right – as Emi would say – the clothes can be readapted and have a second life. How many girls nowadays, if they have an important event, are forced to open their mothers’ closet because their clothes are not made to last? The secret is always the quality of the fabric because “an idea without the perfect fabric doesn’t give beauty or harmony to a figure and cannot be truly expressed”.

And beauty for Emi means a continuous tension, the search for detail, understanding how things are made, experimentation and as far as I am concerned, spending a few hours with her in her atelier, an absolutely therapeutic artistic space! Before entering, in fact, I constantly think every time I am still too fat, too short, too “something” for that dress or that pants, I can’t do it, I can’t! Then Emi looks at me, measures, tries, puts the pins and when I leave her atelier – guys! – I feel bellissima.


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