ROBERTA DI CAMERINO, AKA GIULIANA COEN - FROM THE FLEE TO SWITZERLAND TO THE BAGONGHI BAG
Roberta di Camerino is actually called Giuliana Coen, she was born in Venice in 1920. The name "Roberta di Camerino" comes from the combination of "Roberta", the name of Giuliana's daughter, and "Camerino", her husband's surname.
Of Jewish origin, in the years of the Second World War, Giuliana was forced to leave Venice together with her family to escape persecution due to the fascist racial laws. She found shelter in Switzerland and, precisely in that period, she designed what would become her most famous piece: the Bagonghi, the legendary velvet bag with compartments, Grace Kelly's faithful companion.
ROBERTA DI CAMERINO AND VENETIAN CRAFTSMANSHIP
Back in Italy, immediately after the war, Giuliana Coen founded her high fashion brand in a small Venetian alley. As she would later remember in an interview, "I didn't want to be just another lady playing cards, so I decided to make bags instead. I chose a different fabric to the ones usually used for bags, velvlet, because it represents Venice. The bag, in my opinion, must be an object of pleasure: there was relly no room for the black bag. Even then I loved colors a lot, hence the red green and blue protagonists, inspired by Titian's paintings."
The Roberta di Camerino brand quickly acquired international recognition, not only through the production of accessories such as handbags and belts (the brand's original logo is represented by a woven belt), but also through dresses, especially suits, with colorful prints and trompe-l'œil motifs.
In 1956 she was awarded with the fashion Oscar, the Neiman Marcus Award, while in 1963 she presented her clothes for the first time in the Sala Bianca of Palazzo Pitti, in Florence.
For the creation of her garments, Giuliana relied on the Venetian tradition of craftsmanship, mixing it with a neo-baroque style considered today her distinctive feature. The "Soprarizzo" velvets, traditionally woven in the dark on ancient looms and until then used only for ecclesiastical furnishings and clothing, were declined in new colors and used by Giuliana for her bags, while the closures and studs were created by the craftsmen who produced brass ornaments for gondolas.
Among Roberta di Camerino's devoted admirers were Grace Kelly, Elsa Maxwell, Princess Paola of Liege, Liz Taylor, Gina Lollobrigida, Isabella Rossellini, Farrah Fawcett and Madonna, photographed on more than one occasion with her famous Caravel bag on her arm.
Giuliana Coen died in 2010, but the story of Roberta di Camerino continues: her haute couture garments, authentic relics of the Made in Italy sartorial tradition, and her historic bags, continue to populate the best i vintage boutiques worldwide, dressing celebrities and style icons.