THE '70s CONCEPTSTORE - when the shop was already a conceptstore

The Sixties and Seventies were a golden age. They transformed the workplace into a broader family, made up not only of the entrepreneurs' kids but also their employees. Everything was more authentic back then...

“I'm a lucky guy” (as Jovanotti says) because I was there in the '60s, '70s and '80s, at those exciting times that we look back on now with irony.

This is my way of telling stories. I share a personal tale with you that might be very similar to many others you might come across in the big circus that is fashion. A bit like what I try to do every day on Facebook.

My interest and passion for fashion has a well-known origin. It grew out of my home and the company founded by my parents. Thanks to them, I knew what I wanted to do when I grew up and I never would have managed it without them.

I am a firm believer in strong family traditions, and our story has some excellent examples of this! It might be a cliché but families (even bad ones) are the source of all personal growth. When I was 4 or 5, my mother used to take me to her Workshop, a little ARTISANCOMPANY making Clothing she had set up with my father.

What else could happen to a kid raised amongst sewing machines, cutting tables, irons, seamstresses constantly working, other than him being as fascinated as Alice in Wonderland?

I'll never tire of saying that at that time Italy believed in start-ups, in small-scale projects backed by the state. That's how Made in Italy came about!

Stefano Chiassai nel 1973
Stefano Chiassai nel 1973

My mother was a wonderful woman who looked after the operational side of the Workshop. She was brilliant at everything she did. She had experience in every part of the job, she could sew by hand and on a machine, she was great at embroidery, she could design PAPERPATTERNS and cut fabric beautifully. She was a real force of nature and she never got tired. She had Character, Guts, Determination. She was an indefatigable worker and was always ready to teach the YOUNGAPPRENTICES just out of middle school how to learn a trade like hers.

The Sixties and Seventies were a golden age. They transformed the workplace into a broader family, made up not only of the entrepreneurs' kids but also their employees. Everything was more authentic back then. Mutual respect meant that work relationships became friendships in an authentic, sincere connection. There was what I call a PURITYOFRELATIONS and a willingness towards others. Everyone recognised and accepted their role, without ever going over the limit, careerism did not come into play in this kind of relationships. Everything was built and grew naturally.

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The other half in the couple was my Father who I called AURIELIK. He looked after the Administrative side of the FIRM (as it was called in those days) and dealt with banks, pay slips and all the dealings with the other companies he worked with. His most difficult task was keeping up with my mother and catering to her every requirement. Not only was Signora Carla his wife, she was also a woman who knew exactly how to do her job and would expect equally high standards from everyone else.

The fourth component in this hyper-active family is my big brother, Sergio (I was the baby of the family). He began working with my parents very early and immediately showed his sense of style and dress!

He always looked like he'd walked out of a fashion magazine (Vogue wasn't very well-known back then) - he was fashion! He looked straight out of Paris or New York with his knee-high boots, high-necked sweaters, biker jackets, long leather coats and motorcycles. Another ambition at that time was to own a Harley Davidson!

It was a pipe dream for many, but if you were creative you could turn a GILERA125 into a Harley by replacing the saddle and the handlebars.

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Sergio was a hero to me, especially when he decided to drop out of school and open his own shop. My parents supported him on this endeavour and the Sergio shop opened for business!

Anticipating the fashions, pioneering colours and setting trends, Sergio turned his shop into such a trendy venue (#SOCOOL!) that people came from Florence, Arezzo and further afield. Sergio was a coolhunter before anyone knew what the word meant, he was ahead of the trends and knew what young people wanted to wear to go clubbing on Saturday nights.

He was a great visionary and could always find the right clothes and, more importantly, the right people. Like Bruna, a beautiful woman who first came to the shop as a customer before becoming an assistant and finally marrying the manager!

In short, the Sergio shop was so successful that my parents decided to open a second shop in 1975. At the age of 18, I was finally allowed to share the experience, creating the window displays and helping Sergio look for new pieces. That's when I became a SHOPMAN.

Two beautiful YOUNGWOMEN, VANNA and VIVIANA, worked in the shop with me. I secretly called them my DIVAS and often boasted to my friends of our “close friendship”! Vanna, tall and blonde with blue-green eyes, used her charms on the male customers. They all wanted to seduce her and she would use that to her advantage to get sales! Viviana, who was just as beautiful, tall, dark with hazel eyes, assisted Vanna at the busiest times. She was an amazing person and a great saleswoman (Vanna/Viviana, apologies for the term SHOP ASSISTANT).

Over time they became my FRIENDSANDADVISERS, particularly VANNA who I stayed in touch with for longer… I introduced her to the man who would become “HERHUSBAND” and we met up again just RECENTLY.
The shop was popular with Young and Old alike. The two DIVAS were great saleswomen and brought in many new loyal customers … the shop even became a good place to come and have a CHAT.

In those years, communicating was all about making new friends and the friendships I made then are still alive in my heart and mind. Even though I haven't seen some of those people for a long time - Lucacci, Brilli, Gorino, Bucchi, Artini, Calabassi - I still remember them all fondly and have some UNFORGETTABLEMEMORIES.

For 5 years, they accompanied me towards making the “leap” to working as a consultant, and it's partly thanks to them that I became a STYLEMAN in the ‘80s. Even now, thinking back to that time gives me a real “EMOTIONALJOLT” because of what I was then and what I have become. This article is dedicated to them, to those that shared my early years in the creative industry, coming into my life all of a sudden and taking me on an adventure that never stops surprising me!

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