In this fast paced age of urgency, of greed and of contingencies, our sense of smell, with its universe of nuances and timing, is perhaps our most neglected sense. Fortunately, however, it sometimes, becomes explosive, reviving our sense of wonder and letting us reconnect with the whole richness of our ‘smell’. Emilio Colonna’s atelier is a large room full of leather artefacts, some finished and others still in progress, but above all it is a room full of smells. It is the living scent of the leather that takes shape and color in his hands, and that vividly reminds us of the splendidly ‘analogical’ nature we are expressing. Emilio started to work with leather after a personal journey made of passion, application and great dexterity. And the many beautiful things that are appreciated in his shop are the result of a new world, of a true, made in Italy craftsmanship.
“For twenty-five years I used to sell important watches, Emilio tells me, and my hobby was restoring antique Italian boats. I have always had good dexterity, so seven years ago I turned my watchmaking into a Made in Italy craft shop. I chose leather because I consider it a noble material. It is fascinating to model it, to age it, to color it. This is what I do; I give a personal touch to each accessory mine or of the client who commissions the job. The leather can be worked in an infinite number of ways, even vintage, that today is back in fashion. ”
What kind of customer base do you have? and what about Italian craftsmanship?
Very mixed, I would say. Young people today, in spite of the times in which we live, are instead very attentive and receptive. The fashion of the 70s and 80s is returning. In general, my clients are people who have a certain culture behind them, conveyed by the family, by studies or by personal curiosity to investigate and make incursions into a world that is not the usual and stereotyped brand, a unique world full of those special sensations that only, a made in Italy handcrafted object can give.
Speaking of designer labels, I know that you are collaborating with different fashion ateliers …
“Yes, among them the Squarzi studio, with whom I have been collaborating for a few years with my accessories. But not only. My client base has grown a lot in recent years and collaborations have also started with sophisticated denim dealers. ”
Che cos’è per te l’artigianato Made in Italy?
“E’ l’orgoglio di avere una storia alle spalle, uno stile di vita e un ambiente che nessuno al mondo possiede. E questo si riflette nella ricercatezza e nel gusto del bello che, anche se di questi tempi non salta all’occhio, fa parte della nostra cultura, del nostro dna.”
What is Made in Italy craftsmanship in your opinion?
“It’s the pride of having a story behind it, a lifestyle and an environment that no one in the world has. And this is reflected in the refinement and taste of beauty that, even if these days it doesn’t catch the eye, it is still part of our culture, our DNA. ”
What about your projects ?
“I have traveled a lot and I would like to consolidate what I am doing by opening up to other markets, including foreign ones. And then I would like to open another atelier in Rome, while remaining a craftsman. Tailoring is a privilege for those who produce it and for customers as well. I would also like to pass on the passion for this profession to the new generations. Every now and then a few guys in the store ask me to learn. Now, for example, there is a girl doing some training here. She wants to learn the rudiments of working with leather. I realize it’s just a little flame, but the important thing is not to let it go out. Going back to craftsmanship today means repossessing our ancient culture.”