The Lost Aura – Flair’s Craftsmanship Restores A Unique Luxury

  • 5 Apr '21
  • 12:56 pm by Luxury Pret A Porter

It was in the late 18th century that the human hand was joined, and later replaced by, machines. At the time, it seemed that industrial innovations could fulfil mankind’s still vaguely understood need for progress. At the end of the 19th century, it was at the World’s Fair that the small revolutions of the day were proudly unveiled. The era of mass production had begun, inaugurated by Ford at the turn of the 20th-century and later extended from the automobile to any and every reproducible object. Thanks to the efficiency of the assembly line, maximum output (at least in numerical terms) was obtained with minimal manpower. It was perhaps at this time that quantity started to slowly take precedence over quality. Not that industrial products are necessarily shoddy; but what is inarguably lost is the magic that characterizes every unique object, precisely because it is irreproducible. It is not for nothing that Walter Benjamin had termed this the era of mechanical reproduction.

And yet, in the standardized landscape of today’s consumer society, a world apart nevertheless survives; a world in which traditional craftsmanship and manual labour continue to evolve and to be passed down. And today, as the world seeks to slow down and appreciate what it had written off, these traditions are once again being recognized as priceless. Industrial products will continue to play a central role in our lives. But more and more, we are rediscovering traditional craftsmanship, and methods that do not treat an object as a simple product to be consumed, but as something to be preserved, recycled or reinvented.

Moving away from mass production, brands like LVMH and Kering are opening workshops in Italy. Image Credits – Flair

The luxury market, in particular, has gone in this direction. The luxury good is something that is exclusive, not because it is too expensive, but because it is unique, created by an individual and thus retaining something irreproducible. As a result, craftsmanship today has a priceless value. This is seen in the choices of some of the most important luxury brands, from Kering (Balenciaga and Furla) to LVMH (Fendi): French firms have decided to invest in Italy, opening luxury leather workshops in Tuscany.

One of the defining characteristics of artisanal work, however, is the lack of big infrastructure needed. If on one hand, it constitutes a resource for industry, on the other its essence lies in the fact that it valorizes the human-scale. Attention is given to details, to the creative process, to finishing touches and to personalization: to what is capable of making an object unique. To this is added the luxury of precious materials and of highly refined workmanship.

Artisanal work is defined by its ability to valorize human scale. Image Credits – Flair

The artisanal luxury good produces a singular sensation and therefore becomes a must-have. By adopting this philosophy Flair was born. Faithfully reproducing in Milan, the shop was founded in 1998 in Florence by Alessandra Tabacchi and Franco Marinotti. Flair specializes in unique pieces for interior styling, carefully chosen from around the world. The guiding principle is to put together objects, fabrics, and details from different time periods to give them a new life. In this way objects of the past are reborn as unique and irreplaceable.

Michele Bonan’s collection for Flair epitomizes Tuscan craftsmanship. Image Credits – Flair

It is this conception of luxury – of rediscovering abandoned techniques and objects – that is put to use in the original and very modern creations of Michele Bonan. With Flair, Bonan created a capsule wardrobe with attention to the smallest details. This is Tuscan craftsmanship at its best: the skilful processing of a precious wood such as European walnut, the perfectly executed finishes and the care with which the leather is treated. The luxury good’s value lies in the craftsman’s high level of specialization, a rarity in today’s world. This is a ‘prêt-à-porter’ luxury, reproduced and reproducible, but nevertheless retaining the aura that Walter Benjamin believed irremediably lost.

This article is a contribution by Italian magazine Luxury Pret A Porter, as part of Design Trails