“I’ve traveled the world, seen beautiful places and experienced amazing realities, but in the end, I have always returned to Italy. Italy is the purveyor of fine taste and of artisanal quality, where one cultivates a sense of beauty and everything that is related to fashion,” said The Dressing Screen muse Vanessa Zoppas, a socialite who was born in the Netherlands and has lived between Amsterdam, Italy’s Veneto region and London.
After finishing her studies in diplomatic and public relations in Milan, she did not abandon her love for ancient art, a passion that drew her to Florence’s Renaissance art department and later at the Sotheby’s auction house. It was here, in Florence, that she was later married and now lives with her husband and her three children who are 5, 8 and 10 years old.
“When I found this amazing reality The Dressing Screen, I felt at home. The site is built on traditional values of excellence and also a strong aesthetic sense. The qualities that this project aims to promote are completely in-line with my values,” she said. It’s no coincidence that the historic, family home of her husband, situated in the heart of the Florentine countryside, is the setting Vanessa chose to express her affinity for her favourite brands and the brands that she has chosen for her children wardrobe — all proposed by The Dressing Screen.
“I am a social and positive person. I always see the glass half full! This year, I decided to surround myself with people who transmit the same sort of energy. At times, I would like to clone myself in order to be with all the people I love. I always strive to cultivate a sense of joy for myself and for those around me.”
Gifted with an innate sense of joy, that allegria is also emulated through her wardrobe choices that are marked by a timeless elegance. “How can I define Italian style? Minimalism with a brush of creativity,” she mused.
It’s no surprise that her fashion icon is Grace Kelley and her coveted iconic accessory is the Hermès “Kelly” bag from 1952 — one of the first gifts given to her by her grandmother. “Logos are not for me. I would never put something on with logos all over it. And I abhor any sort of vulgarity. I would rather follow the galateo (Italian equivalent of Emily Post) when it comes to dressing … It’s only with the right education that one learns to acquire the right items that are appropriate whatever situation in whatever world,” she said.
Vanessa loves velvet and she has a deep love for Valentino… and for red, the kind of red that radiates in her photoshoot with the The Dressing Screen as she stuns in a Gioia Bini dress.
“When you let yourself go in the femininity of Gioia Bini, it is impossible not to really feel like a woman of the 1950s, a time in which elegance was a value and women dressed like real women. It’s this nostalgic style from the past that accompanies me always in fashion and in art. I would just love to go back 19th century England, during the time of Jane Austen.”
The mother of three has always been inspired by vintage, and even revels in the vintage of her own past. Looking back, she reminisces about the ensemble she wore at her 18th birthday: an ample retro skirt paired with a bodice embroidered with butterflies that was made by Valentino “He remained me that Vanessa is also the name of a butterfly.”
She indulges aristocratic fashion of the Renaissance capital, a style of dressing that is embodied by historic brands like Loretta Caponi, a legendary artisanal designer and brand known for its embroidery, nightgowns, sartorial undergarments and bedlinens that are also proposed by The Dressing Screen. It’s a refined softness that Vanessa, in this photo, chooses for her children. “Other than the really soft garments by Caponi, I love the robes that aren’t just for lounging around the house but are fitting for daytime that conjures the same charm of an evening dress.”
A penchant for excellence that Vanessa has cultivated since childhood, one of her fondest memories involves accompanying her mother to the atelier of the great Venetian tailor, Mario Borsato. Vanessa remembers studying his choice of fabrics, touching every material and admiring her mother as she tried on his lavish couture garments.
And her children? “They already have a great fashion identity and I let them cultivate that! I don’t like to impose myself on them but they need to feel free to experiment, dressing in a way that perhaps I wouldn’t personally chose for myself. They love examining my closet and looking at me while I get dressed. And by now, they also steal a piece here and there like my summer tops, for example.”
For summer, she also choses the brand Baroni for her children, embroidered dresses fit for little princesses that are adorned with their signature PUNTO SMOCK. Before an array of garments proposed by The Dressing Screen, Vanessa’s eyes fall on the summery dresses by Caftanii, paired with the utilitarian bags from Officina del Poggio, an ensemble that epitomises Italian excellence.
“They are original yet traditional bags that have a touch of vintage. They are styles from another time that are revisited with modernity,” she pointed out.
Heading back home to her house in the city, she ponders what her favourite places are to show off her summer wardrobe. “I recommend the terrace of the Rinascente and then lunch or dinner in the amazing Al Fresco restaurant in the Four Seasons hotel. During the winter, a stop at Caffè Cibreo or at Cantinetta Antinori, without having to miss a sunset seen from the top of Piazzale Michelangelo”
As we say goodbye to Vanessa, we ask her where she is headed to for vacation. “In Sicily where my husband produces wine in the small town called Noto. For the trip, I am going to bring my summer classics, which includes elegant swimsuits, kimono robes, ballerina flats that are perfect from morning to night. Among the books I plan to bring: authors like Andrea de Carlo, Margaret Mazzantini and Niccolò Ammaniti… surrounding myself by the real Italian way of life: eating well and healthy and relishing in the open air… enjoying everything around me but above all, adoring the beauty of it all and holding it dear.”
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