Some time ago, I discovered Valgrisa while browsing some shops in Moscow’s Red Square. The company is inspired by the Aosta Valley, a mountainous region in northwestern Italy that is bordered by France to the west and Switzerland to the north. The region has numerous, though almost unknown, arts and craft customs, and Valgrisa draws from both the region’s raw materials and traditional ways of dressing for its collection of clothes and accessories.
For example, the company utilizes the Aosta Valley’s three historic types of weaving, that of wool, hemp, and cotton with a spindle. Velvet, fustian, and cashmere are sometimes added for suppleness and warmth. Design wise, their garments are truly both classical and modern (one of the few times I think this phrase can actually be used), and you really get a sense of the company’s passion for the mountain environment when you put one of these on.
Below, I’ve featured two jackets. First is the Giacca Lodra. The Lodra was inspired by the jackets that Courmayeur’s alpine guides wore in the mid-19th century whilst accompanying their clients in the mountains around Mt. Blanc. It was an item of highly functional clothing, protecting them from the freezing temperatures often found over 4,000 meters. Today, the Lodra is an elegant jacket that can be worn with style on a variety of occasions. It’s made from Rosset wool, which is from a rare and almost extinct breed of sheep from the Valley. By supporting the rearing of the breed, Valgrisa has helped preserve the specie.
The second jacket is the Chasse Royale. This one recreates the uniform of the Royal Park’s Hunting Guards. The first king of a united Italy, Victor Emmanuel II, had a passion for hunting and love for nature. He created Italy’s first natural park in 1856 and his regiments were responsible for maintaining the numbers of animals in the park. The Chasse Royale takes the Guard’s military waistcoat and overlays it on a modern jacket. There are eleven pockets and the jacket is resistant to both water and snow. It’s also the first jacket to come with a book, which looks at the variety of ways in which hunting has taken place, from the structured and strategic methods used by the Savoy family, to the less structured, but more tactical form of hunting, as described in the essays of Chicco Martinet.
When you buy a Valgrisa garment, you are offered the opportunity to become a member of the exclusive Valgrisa Club. The club’s members will have the chance to meet several times each year in the most beautiful parts of the Aosta Valley. Guided by the local experts, members discuss mountain related topics and are able to learn about the region’s gastronomic, cultural, and sporting traditions. Luciano Barbera is actually one of the people behind Valgrisa, and helped co-edit the book that comes with the Chasse Royale. I have no idea if he goes to the Valgrisa Club meetings, but the idea of being able to spend an afternoon with this man in the Aosta Valley sounds like the most ideal way one could possibly spend a day.