All the Rest is Noise

The Amfar dinner has just finished when I arrive. The ballroom is slowly clearing out but the peppy ambiance resonates, albeit slightly inebriated I suppose. Men in classic tuxedos and women in revealing gowns shuffle between half-empty, cluttered tables, sparking up flirty conversations with friends and business associates, juggling champagne glasses and coffee cups on their way to the adjacent, crowded dance floor, where the Fendi party is just kicking off. I spot my friend Candela Pelizza Tricario at a large table in the middle of the floor and sit down with her. Just as I’m starting to question her about other Milanese, vintage-loving girls I could shoot this week, I see her: a pretty, sexy brunette with a dusty rose, slinky dress that could be vintage… I run after her and pull her aside: Who are you? What are you wearing? (I have no fear…) Her name is Valentina Scambia Floriani and the dress is designed by her friend Luisa Beccaria. OK, for once, I won’t mind…

A few days later I take a pre-war elevator up to Valentina’s place in the center of Milan. It’s a spacious, sun-drenched, multi-bedroom apartment on the 4th floor of a large, old building which houses both businesses and private homes. She opens the door in white sneakers, blue jeans and a striped shirt – she’s even prettier than I remember. And the interior is splendid! “I decorated everything myself,” she smiles. “I like my house to be full of objects from different parts of the world in a mix and match kind of way, between antique and contemporary, with some crazy stuff (like the traffic light my husband bought from the street). I like to remember places by looking at objects in my house.” I also notice all the pictures. They cover the walls, in every size, color and medium possible. And most of them have a little girl in them. “You have children??” I ask her startled. She doesn’t look a day over 23! “Yes, my daughter Nina!” she beams. “She’s six and I’m 29.” Well I’ll be damned if that’s not a young mom. I remember thinking the same thing when I photographed 31-year old Candela last year. She has an 8-year old.  I have proof now: It’s definitely an Italian thing.

Valentina walks me through her closet in search of the few vintage pieces she owns. We uncover an old Versace jacket, her favorite ripped Levi’s and a few more vintage-inspired Beccaria dresses.  “If anything characterizes my style, it’s that it’s natural and spontaneous,” she confesses. “If I like two pieces, and they have nothing in common, it’s a valid reason for me to wear them. And I always mix my outfit with something vintage, a belt, a bag or an old piece of jewelry. I love Luisa’s creations because they are timeless and recall a magical and romantic  world.” She doesn’t follow trends but rather finds inspiration in old black and white movies or classic icons like Jane Birkin. She loves to dress up but what she wears depends on her mood and the meetings she has that day. Ah yes, Valentina is a stay-at-home mom but she organizes fund-raisers for non-profit organizations. I was told she’s from a good Milanese family and when I ask her about it she sounds grateful. “My family gave me values that I try to pass on to my daughter. Our family motto is “Follow your path, all the rest is noise”. My best moments are those I spend with my family, and those are plentiful.”

November 1, 2012

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