News & Runway Profiles

Designer to Watch: Azzura Gronchi and Alessandro Enriquez of An Italian Theory


I'm thinking of a recipe for designer collaboration success. Take one part Costume National design veteran, a student of Central Saint Martins, who also happens to be a serious world traveler and a professor of design at various schools throughout Italy. Maybe his name is Alessandro Enriquez. And maybe he's famous for his dinner parties in Milan where a carefully curated group of guests enjoy themselves late into the night and can't wait to be invited back.

Then let's add in a fellow colleague of this Alessandro, who worked side-by-side with him at Costume National, helping to create some of the chicest, most interesting collections of the last several years. We'll call her Azzurra Gronchi. Azzurra isn't without her bona fides and credentials, she happens to be from one of Italy's most prominent tannery families. She grew up around high quality leather production, learning that art the Italians alone seem to have perfected. She's also worked on previous collaborations with Dolce & Gabbana and Ferragamo.

If these two were real (and they are, natch), what would they create? A new boutique label called An Italian Theory that includes off-the-wall prints Murakami would approve of adorning structured bags, hats, backpacks and even tennis gear. With Azzurra perfecting the construction and materials and Alessandro dreaming up icons inspired by his passion and copious world travels, these wearable works of art are schedule to tour exclusively through Milan and Italy. We'll drool and pretend we can fly in just for the occasion. And we'll also be hoping these two continue to team up and send their wares stateside for us to carry around our own Italian Theory.

Check out the exclusive tFS interview below, to peek into the minds of genius — and remember, you heard about these two here first. [scroll down for the interview]


theFashionSpot: What is your general aesthetic and the motivation behind the collaboration for An Italian Theory?

Alessandro Enriquez: We wanted to tell a story about Italy using some of the quintessential elements associated with the Italian tradition. We wanted to create an imagery that spoke about Italy, and to add a bit of luck.

Azzura Gronchi: Our accessories collection is comprised of handbags, espadrilles, backpacks, helmets and other small leather goods donning our signature print: a mélange of brilliant colors, a recurring theme of lucky charms (ladybirds, four-leafed clovers and horseshoes) alongside a religious motif expressed with textured sacred hearts. It’s a way for women to get in touch with some of the quintessential Italian traditions, in a very modern way. Having the possibility of marrying the idea for this print with the quality and the manufacturing capabilities of Azzurra Gronchi has been really fantastic.

 tFS: Inspiration and motivation?

AE & AG: The biggest inspirations are Italian tradition and craftsmanship. But also the Mediterranean, which can truly overwhelm us and makes us relive our past in the present with symbols, quirks and lucky charms.

 tFS: Do you have an ideal client or a muse that you think about when designing the collection?

AE & AG: Our product is not designed with a particular target in mind: it is easily appreciated by both younger clients and professional women, or very elegant society ladies. I think the most receptive audience, so far, has been among "web addicted" girls: Chiara Ferragni, Linda Tol, Sofia Guellaty…but we also see our creations worn in a completely unexpected – and very elegant – ways by other industry insiders. We could never have only one muse! Our style is as eclectic as all our clients and style icons.

 tFS: What do you think is missing in a woman’s wardrobe?

AE & AG: I think women today can have everything. In order to make something worthy of their attention, I think you should be extremely creative, and use your sensibility to create something completely new.

tFS: What is the meaning behind the beautiful print featured on this handbags collection?

AE & AG: It’s meant to tell a story. It’s a beautiful story about Italy, about Italian fashion yesterday and today.

tFS: What is important for you when looking at different types of leathers and how do you decide which direction to take?

AE: Given the incredible experience of the tannery we work with, we are very lucky to be able to choose from such a wide selection. Azzurra is the expert on leather treatments and she follows every step of the way, while Alessandro is responsible for the prints.

tFS: How do you combine your styles to merge them for the final product?

AE: The collection is “a perfect marriage” and a great way to leverage our skills. We had worked together for years (at Costume National) and we now know how to collaborate and balance each other out perfectly, in great harmony, combining both design, communication and commercial demands.

tFS: You work very closely together: what are your respective strengths and how do you balance each other?

AE & AG: We have a great synergy and we truly respect each other’s role. We value a lot of research, both in terms of design and in terms of manufacturing. Our common goal is to make our dreams real and, most importantly, to offer them to the client.

 tFS: What is the part of your work that you love the most?

AE & AG: Our passion for the final product.

tFS: The print featured in this collection is beautiful, have you considered expending into ready-to-wear?

AE & AG: Step by step! For now, we had a great response from buyers and, most importantly, from the final client. As we expend, we will definitely consider this option. For now, our main focus remains on accessories.

tFS: If you weren’t designers, what would you be?

AG: Alessandro would definitely be a chef! He loves being in the kitchen and his dinners are legendary. Azzurra perhaps would be a horse breeder, since she has such a natural connection with these beautiful animals and already works with them.