Fashion Royalty

Every day and every hour that goes by brings me a little closer to my shoot with Coco Brandolini. I’m walking on egg shells but I have patience. A lot of it. Because she’s fashion royalty and worth every fingernail bitten or night insomniac until the big day. But as it goes, it only takes one e-mail to get bad news. Like last season, when I traveled to Milan with the sole purpose of shooting her. We are friends, but she’s a busy girl. Not only is she a new mother – her daughter Nina is just 14 months old – she’s also been appointed Fashion Director at Tar magazine and she’s Tomas Maier’s Fashion Consultant at Bottega Veneta. She has a full plate and a drop-of-a-hat mercurial schedule. And the day that we were meant to shoot she was whisked off to Paris at 6 AM for a few important meetings with Tomas. But… there is always next season and I am knocking on the front door.

Coco’s apartment is situated on the top floor of an impressive building near Repubblica in Milan. She greets me with a generous smile and a warm hug – Coco is so consistently jovial I have my arms open before she opens the door. The table is set with pretty pink napkins and colorful glasses. It’s not for me though. She has an important lunch later and admits she’s a little bit nervous. Minutes later a courier arrives with a big bouquet of purple, red and pink anemones, her favorite flowers. Again, not for me, but to put the finishing touches on her table arrangement. Must be a very special person. We chitchat about our mutual friends as she shows me around the apartment. She’s lived here for four years with her husband Matteo but is ready to make a move. She points at a wall where once a huge painting hung. “See those water stains?” she squints. “This building is really old…” The interior is a just as I’d imagined: a dense collage of cool art, colorful collectibles and antique, retro furniture. The overall feel is soft and charmingly intimate, with realistic winks to the Italian home maker, like that meat carving machine in the kitchen or the spearmint mosaic in the bathroom or the vine-covered terrace that connects all the rooms. “My favorite spot in the house is my boudoir,” she thinks. “And I love the windows and the light in this place.”

I most vividly picture Coco in a floral, midi, chiffon dress with flat boots and a delicate cardigan. She says her style changes often but describes it best as “romantic and feminine with great tailored jackets.” Her closet is filled with some of the finest vintage dresses, sourced mostly in Paris and Milan. “Vintage is a huge part of my wardrobe,” she attests. “I just love when clothes are old. I love their weight and the way they fit with everything I own.” Her closet is a picture of whimsical luxury but it’s meticulously practical at the same time. She invented this cool velcro system to replace the doors – “saves space and keeps my clothes clean and hidden!” We breeze through our shoot like CoverGirls – she’s says she hates posing but I’ve gotten used to that caveat by now; I don’t notice a thing – and she’s surprised when I finish half an hour early. “This is great Nat! I’m going to be bored when you leave!” Well, there’s that lunch!

When I say fashion royalty I mean it in the most noble and educated of ways. Coco’s mom, Georgina was a designer’s muse and Valentino’s PR manager for more than 20 years. She introduced Coco to fashion at an early age and guided her to a career many of us dream about. But the highest fulfillment in her life right now is motherhood. “Being a mother is the most completing experience I have had and I feel happier and happier as she grows…”

March 1, 2012

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