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Corto Moltedo

Small obsessions.

You might expect the aesthetic of Gabrielecorto Moltedo, who grew up as a scion of the Bottega Veneta empire, to be one of understated luxury. But although he has tapped into his heritage of exceptional Italian craftsmanship, he is out on his own when it comes to design. His statement-making goods are bold, bright, and infused with an urban contemporary edge—he defines his sensibility as “pop-luxe chic”. Amiable 36-year-old Moltedo, who launched his eponymous brand in 2004, explains, “I wanted to follow the family tradition. That’s how it started. But I was also very tired of what I had been seeing from some of the big [fashion] brands for quite a while, and I thought I could give a fresh perspective.”

Inspired by the global synergy between music, art, and fashion, Moltedo’s designs have garnered a cult following, with celebrity fans including Madonna, Kate Hudson, and Karolina Kurkova. Vanguard pieces have included a “cassette clutch”, a one-off spiked Tom Binns collaboration, and the staple Susan Desny clutch resculptured from a solid piece of brass and dipped in gold, an idea sparked by a trip to Mauritius and the island’s rock formations. Along with boutiques in Paris and Milan (as well as an online store), Moltedo is constantly globe-trotting—evident by his Instagram account, where you see him popping up in a new city every other day.

At the moment, the tall, dark, and dapper designer is savouring a moment of relative calm. A few months away from his brand’s 10th anniversary, he has just returned from Istanbul. “The last few weeks have been a bit of a roller coaster,” he says. “But I always like to come back here to Florence to spend time with my team, as we make everything at our atelier here.”

It’s fitting that his fall/winter Skyline collection is partly inspired by travel. “I’m always coming off the airplane, and as you drive into the city, you see bright lights—so the inspiration was the feeling one gets when entering a city,” he explains. “It’s all about emotion.” The exquisitely crafted bags come in a cityscape palette of pastel greys, midnight blues, and black. A degree in art history infused Moltedo’s love of colour: “It helped me understand combinations of colours and be more expressive.”

NUVO Magazine: The Goods Of Corto Moltedo

The Corto Moltedo boutique in Milan.

To get to the heart and soul of Moltedo’s aesthetic, you have to go back to his childhood. “I definitely have an urban influence from spending half my time in New York and then a different side from spending the rest of the time in the Venetian countryside,” he says. His parents, Vittorio and Laura Moltedo, founded Bottega Veneta in 1962, and the brand soon became the epitome of elegance thanks to its restrained, no-logo approach to artisanal, luxury leather goods. The company was acquired by the Gucci Group in 2001.

Moltedo’s upbringing gave him a strong grounding in the basics of Italian craftsmanship. “They took me to the factory all the time,” he says of his parents. “My earliest memories are of playing in the stockrooms where they kept all the leathers and being friendly with all the workers there. There were lots of empty boxes, so I’d create my own playground.” He would often accompany his father on store visits. “I learned a lot about the nitty-gritty of a business and being a part of every single detail,” he says.

One of his earliest fashion memories is of Diane von Furstenberg visiting his parents’ house. Such childhood experiences, along with his parents’ strong sense of style, left an indelible impression on him. “My mother was very elegant and understated,” Moltedo reflects. “My father, on the other hand, had more of the brash moustache and long-hair look of the seventies, so that stayed with me. They always gave me creative freedom and encouraged me to be a free spirit.”

After completing his art history studies and honing his skills during internships at his parents’ company (“I learned the whole process of bag making, from the bottom up,” he says), Moltedo launched his label with clothing, shoes, and bags, but quickly chose to specialize in artisan-crafted bags. “I believe that you need to focus on something to make sure that you’re top class before you move onto the next thing,” says the designer, who is committed to quality of construction and whose creations are like mini-canvases. “But clothes and shoes are always at the back of my mind, and they are categories that I will expand on in the future.” Then he adds, “It’s about mastering the art first.”

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December 13, 2013