Cult Shop: Rome’s chicest concept store
Roula Khalaf, Editor of the FT, selects her favourite stories in this weekly newsletter.
Lined with grand Renaissance façades and just a stone’s throw from the Palazzo Farnese, Via di Monserrato is about as quintessentially Roman as a street can be. Funny, then, to find unmistakably Gallic-inflected chic on display at number 35, the historic Palazzo Capponi Antonelli. This is where Chez Dédé, a gallery-concept store-atelier, opened last year.
The brainchild of Daria Reina and Andrea Ferolla – two of Italy’s top creative directors who have worked with such names as Bulgari – Chez Dédé is a bricks-and-mortar homage to an arguably endangered concept of truly handmade luxury. “For us – and I know this will sound high-minded, but it’s true – this store is sort of a gift,” says Reina. “One through which we can work with real craftspeople, who are creating things that are poetic and beautiful, and absolutely not what the market dictates they should be making.”
Those craftspeople hail from as far afield as Japan and Israel, but it’s France that is undeniably in the air. Reina is half French, while Ferolla’s affinity with the country can be seen in his elegant large-format, limited edition drawings (€900) of impossibly leggy demoiselles. They appear everywhere, as smaller prints (from €90) and on whisper-light modal/cashmere shawls (€330) in shades of ice blue and dusty pink. “His illustration style is an inherent part of Chez Dédé’s soul,” says Reina. “It is, in fact, very French, a bit malizioso – naughty, mischevious.” A similar whimsy informs what has emerged as Rome’s bona-fide cult item: tote bags (from €350) embossed with destinations evoking a lost age of glamorous travel – St Barth, Singapore, Knokke, Santorini. Cut from linen or canvas, vivid prints or toiles (“proper toile, handmade in Jouy,” Reina notes), each is finished with a leather strap sourced from a small Tuscan producer.
Chez Dédé’s two blue-painted rooms contain many such limited edition and gift-worthy artworks and accessories, often collaborations or exclusives. Take, for instance, ceramicist Benoît Astier de Villatte’s small, exquisite range of tableware (€50-€250) printed with the découpage designs of New York stylist John Derian; or the two fragrances by cult New York perfumer Linda Rodin, Rodin (€250) and Rodin Bis (€300). Capri’s ultra-desirable espadrille maker, Zabattigli, has contributed a one-off Chez Dédé model (€90) for men or women, in navy or grey with zingy red detailing. And pretty paperbacks bearing whimsical titles such as L’Armageddon arrive et je n’ai rien à mettre (Armageddon is here and I’ve got nothing to wear) turn out on closer scrutiny to be notebooks (€22) of the finest Umbrian paper – a witty collaboration between Reina and the artist Babas.
This mix makes Chez Dédé one of Italy’s most impressive edits – a term that strikes Reina as apt. “I always thought of myself as more of an editor, putting things and people together. That’s the best part: collaborating with people who have authentic, original ideas. I can’t say it’s not exhausting to work the way we do, but it’s profoundly more gratifying.”
Via di Monserrato 35, Rome 00186 (+3906-5728 5994; chezdede.com).