More than twenty years ago, LuisaViaRoma started as a small, family run boutique which breathed fashion and art into the city of Florence. Andrea Panconesi took over the shop from his father aged 19, and hasn’t looked back since.
Now, Panconesi has put together Window To A Future Fashion World, a book which charts LuisaViaRoma’s incredible journey from tiny Florentian shop to international fashion giant. This was something he was a little reticent to undertake at first, “as I’m not keen to talk about the past,” he explains. “I’m all about looking forward to what is happening tomorrow.”
Well, looking back to move forwards sometimes has its benefits. Not only does Panconesi’s book pay homage to the breadth of artists and collaborators that have passed through the Luisa store, it sets out a clear vision for its future – one that takes the digital age in its stride.
“If someone comes into my store and sees what they expect, I haven’t done my job,” continues Panconesi. “I want people to feel surprised and challenged. It’s a shame that brands are so obsessed with a uniform identity, with no individuality for the specific location.”
Panconesi is a through and through Florentian. For him, the future of Luisa isn’t so much about expanding their presence around the world, but instead giving back to the community that has come to shape the business.
“I plan to develop a new store that is a dedicated space for local youth. It will be a social space where they can come together, meet new people and share ideas,” Panconesi says.
“They wouldn’t need to buy anything, but the plan is for them to go into the store and feel creative. This is a concept that needs to be centred around the local people – they are the energy, they are what’s real.”
Cesare Cunaccia (ex-Editor-at-Large of Vogue Italia) who helped write the comprehensive history of LuisaViaRoma, agrees that reflecting on the past can mean being as innovative as possible in the future.
“The thinking behind this idea is very much inspired by the Renaissance,” he says. “Florence was a key meeting place during that period, and this was something we wanted to reflect conceptually within the project.
“I always believe in integration between digital and the physical, technology cannot be the idea itself, but rather it is a medium to communicate that idea.”
In many ways, Window To A Future Fashion World, is a milestone for LuisaViaRoma. It’s a means of recognising how far the shop has come in order for Panconesi and Cunaccia to focus their energy into what’s coming next, which, as it turns out, is an app.
“We are about to launch an app centred around a game and artificial intelligence,” Cunaccia says. “We are looking for new ways to explore the intersection of fashion, art, design and beauty. I think the community of the physical space is something you can translate and expand online.”
Window To A Future Fashion World is published by Rizzoli.