Giovanni Accongiagoco, a co-founder of the Italia Independent Group, is celebrating the Renaissance and its creative values with a new brand called Catherine de' Medici 1533. The new brand is named after the Florentine noblewoman who married the second son of King François I of France in 1533. She is credited with bringing a taste of fashion, the arts and feminine beauty to the French court as the mother of three men who became kings of France.
Founded in the U.S. three years ago, the Catherine de' Medici 1533 brand is also celebrating a sort of renaissance for Accongiagioco, who left Italia Independent in May 2016, citing differences of opinions with the other shareholders over future development strategies. He still owns about 5 percent of the company's shares, or 10 percent including stock options that can be exercised in 2022.
Accongiagioco set up a new company in Florida in 2014 to manage the Catherine de' Medici 1533 brand together with his wife Francesca, who is the creative director. At the time, he was still working for Italian Independent on a full-time basis, handling product development, sales and marketing, and also running Italia Independent's new U.S. subsidiary in Miami.
First, the new company launched a line of women's footwear, based on the fact that the rather short queen mother introduced the fashion of high-heeled shoes to the French court, alongside the use of lingerie and fragrances. The company's shoes are made by a manufacturer in Parabiago, near Milan, and are sold for the most part in about 50 department stores around the world.
The company followed up last January with its first line of eyewear, which was presented for the first time at the Mido show in Milan last February. The line was also displayed at the DaTE show in Florence a few days ago, but it will skip the Paris Silmo next week.
A line of custom jewelry will be added in January. Positioned as a brand of luxury women's accessories, Catherine de' Medici 1533 is meant to combine the avant-garde approach that characterized the noblewoman's original vision with a classic, timeless style.
The items in the eyewear collection feature classic arabesques, botanic motifs and sinuous lines that flourished during the Renaissance. Offered to the public from €290 a pair and upwards, they are sold with an elegant velvet case with a mirror and comb inside, developed by Gatto Astucci.
Targeting women over 30, the line currently consists of acetate frames and sunglasses. They are made by a manufacturer in the Belluno area who uses a special process to bond two pieces of acetate. Metal frames using titanium components from Japan will be added in January to form an extended line of 24 pieces that will be presented at the Opti show in Munich.
To help launch the line, Accongiagoco hired a veteran of the sector, Salvatore Causa, as head of sales last January. He has been working as an industry consultant since he left De Rigo as sales and licensing director in November 2015. He worked as sales and marketing director of Marcolin for ten years before joining De Rigo in 2009.
The Catherine de' Medici 1533 line of eyewear is currently sold in about 200 stores in Italy, Spain, Greece and Kazakhstan. It will be launched by the company in the U.S. next month.
A Canadian watercolor artist is helping the brand to promote the styles in a more effective manner than normal pictures in the stores and through the social media. Accongiagoco plans to use watercolor paintings in the brand's first store, which is set to open at an undisclosed location next year, and for the décor of its stand at the next Mido fair.
The 37-year-old manager started off as a brand-building expert at Fiat before launching Italia Independent ten years ago together with another manager and Lapo Elkann, heir to the fortune of the Agnelli family, which controls the Italian automotive giant.