Marie-Lousie at Hotel Il Pellicano – Photo Credits @Cerruti & Draime
One year ago, Marie-Louise launched her personal love letter to Italy with ISSIMO, a website dedicated to Italian excellence through people, style, culture, gastronomy, heritage and travel. A place for everything Italian and a reflection of the Italian love for quality and excellence was the started point, but it became more personal.
“ISSIMO is a container for my curiosities and it’s a one-stop-shop for everything Italian”. From travel and gifts to clothing and home deco, ISSIMO isn’t just about Marie-Louise’s love for Italy but a platform to show the Italy she loves through a curated community of brands whether ISSIMO friends established brands and up-and-coming brands, curated ISSIMO collaborations and now ISSIMO’s own sartorial and artisanal creations. Originally conceived as the virtual love child of Hotel Il Pellicano’s boutique and Marie-Louise’s own curiosities, ISSIMO became something much larger.
Discovering a community of artisans
ISSIMO puts an immediate lens on Italy, and in particular, its heritage of craftsmanship. “When I was developing ISSIMO, one of my primary goals was to introduce smaller Italian artisans to the world,” shares Marie-Louise, highlighting smaller artisanal brands like the Venice-based allagiulia whose handcrafted Friù loafer, or Friuliana, is a centuries-old footwear tradition, customised for the twenty-first century or Alberto Biani, and lighting masterpieces by Anna Lari.
ISSIMO x Allagiulia Mustard Velvet Loafers with Pellican Embroidery195,00€ Incl. VAT
ISSIMO X Allagiulia Artisanal Black Velvet Loafers with Embroidery195,00€ Incl. VAT
Discovery is what fuels ISSIMO’s mission even throughout an uncertain year. In fact, the pandemic kicked ISSIMO’s focus into high gear. “This year has been really complicated but it also has been a blessing in disguise when we were given the opportunity to highlight certain brands and show their quality,” tells Marie-Louise. “Italy is a very rare example of a place that has so much quality in so many different sectors.”
Marie-Louise selects every artisan for ISSIMO collaborations and ISSIMO friends, areas dedicated to promoting a cultural and e-commerce community. “These are brands and artisans I know, I really know.” She wears and lives the brands featured on ISSIMO every day. Case in point, her love for leopard print launched a collaboration with sartorial savant Alberto Biani.
ISSIMO X Alberto Biani Leopard Dress495,00€ Incl. VAT
Product on saleISSIMO X Alberto Biani Zebra Silk ShirtIncl. VAT
Product on saleISSIMO X Alberto Biani Zebra Bermuda ShortsIncl. VAT
“There are so many incredible brands that don’t have the marketing power, and have more difficulty putting themselves on the map, so to speak. And they need discovery. This is what ISSIMO is really, genuinely about – discovery.”
Introducing the ISSIMO label
One of the inevitable surprises that came out of 2020 was ISSIMO label of artisanal and sartorial creations specifically created for ISSIMO by Marie-Louise.
“The idea of having our own ISSIMO label was always there, you know, to create the things that maybe we couldn’t necessarily find, with great producers, great people who could make them.” With a focus on individual product instead of a bolstered line up or collection, the ISSIMO label is about timelessness and transversality.
“We don’t drop a whole collection, we just launch a product, which could be a cashmere hat, or a pyjama, or a shirt, it’s kind of the go-to things that you want of top quality. It’s few, but good things take time and I’m not in a rush. I want to really be coherent and consistent with wanting to bring that sense of discovery, that sense of wonder, and that quality. They’re the things that you want to keep for a lifetime, that are sustainable. That’s what the ISSIMO label, and ISSIMO in general try to do – find products that will last for a lifetime with quality and design.”
One piece at a time, one brand at a time, one article at a time, ISSIMO’s laser focus on artisans and building authentic relationships means that ISSIMO is a constant work in progress on selection, fine-tuning, curation and editing. “We’re always trying to up our game. I want ISSIMO to be a place of wonder.”
Let’s take a look back today over the past year at ISSIMO. How has it evolved since its launch?
ISSIMO is doing exactly what it is supposed to be doing – always evolving and always learning, which is my favourite hobby. It’s driven by my personal necessity of learning and curiosity. You know, I’m compulsively really curious so it’s really a container for my curiosities. So much of ISSIMO about my personal curiosities, and it keeps growing, and learning like me and everyone involved. In terms of product range, it’s growing. The idea is to continue to introduce to the world or people who follow us products that they wouldn’t necessarily know, brands that they wouldn’t necessarily know, or things that they didn’t think they needed.
Are there any areas in which you want to see ISSIMO grow more?
Travel is something that we’re going to grow even more. Bellini Travel’s Emily FitzRoy collaborates on travel guides and does an incredible job, and we’re definitely going to expand Italianissimo, the travel editorial. It’s the same point of view we use to select fashion and design and art. It’s about making you discover and enriching oneself.
Will we ever see a brick and more ISSIMO store?
In essence, it exists already since we feature ISSIMO curation in the boutiques of all our hotels, and we also host pop-ups as well. ISSIMO follows the same approach that we began at the Pelli, in terms of style, quality and philosophy. It’s a complete reflection of what I do with hotels – I curate all of those aspects from the plates and tableware to the playlists, boutiques, decor and atmosphere. What ISSIMO is doing is merging the worlds of travel, hospitality and retail.