The elevated essentials of Once Milano

Everyday Glamour

By Gretta Louw

In this Instagram-driven moment, one could be forgiven for thinking that glamour is simply the result of spending money. No doubt, the eternally blue skies of status-symbol vacation destinations and the latest designer handbags de rigueur (no matter the price tag) can make for impressive selfies. But if you look beyond the surface, there’s a deeper kind of glamour that’s less glitzy but all the more fulfilling. It comes from an attitude of fierce independence accompanied by an unerring appreciation for lasting quality. These are the values that spurred Once Milano founders Valeria Piovesana Thompson (CEO) and Allegra Marchiorello (Creative Director) to develop one of the most authentically glamorous home textile brands in Europe.

This pair of accomplished women has been friends for nearly two decades. They first met as law students in Strasbourg and then went on to build careers—Piovesana Thompson at an American law firm and later as a legal consultant; Marchiorello managed family businesses and properties. Husbands and children followed, along with moves to Venice and London respectively. They stayed in touch over the years, all the while cultivating their shared taste for refined interior décor, particularly linens. Piovesana Thompson gushes about how her friend would always make things for her; things for the table or the bed imbued with a subtle allure. Marchiorello explains, “Glamour, to me, is an enjoyment of space and having the space to breathe. I like spareness in a room; you don’t need very much, just a few well-considered pieces.” Around 2012, they joined forces in Milan to create a platform that would allow these impeccable, transformative touches of elegant simplicity to reach a wider audience. The result was Once Milano.

Once Milano specializes in understated yet luxurious linens for the home; heritage fabrics designed and crafted in Italy. That’s all they do, but they do it wholeheartedly. "The area where Once Milano is based, Veneto, has a very rich tradition in fabrics and textiles,” Marchiorello explains: “As Italians we’re very committed to bringing manufacturing back to Italy and ensuring that our heritage and extraordinary craftsmanship doesn’t disappear.”

Piovesana Thompson shares her partner’s steadfast commitment to supporting local craftsmanship and tradition. “Our products are the result of uncompromised quality,” she says, “something that is achieved by maintaining the highest standards in the manufacturing process, the work of skilled artisans.” The duo set out to breathe new life into endangered textile traditions in the region, and it’s working. “Thankfully, we do see a revival,” says Piovesana Thompson. “Technology and the internet have played a part, as it brings a keen awareness. The young generation is very well informed and interested in preserving that heritage,” Marchiorello adds.

Marchiorello and Piovesana Thompson understand that the most desirable objects arise when you work the best materials with time, care, and skill. Embellishment and ostentation beyond these essential ingredients are mere distractions, sometimes even detractions. Like the pleasures of a slow-cooked meal, Once Milano’s bedding, bathroom, kitchen, and table textiles are deeply comforting and life affirming. “We want you to savor the feeling of sinking into cool linen sheets, dining on crisp linen tablecloths, and drying with soft linen towels,” Marchiorello enthuses.

It’s not just the exquisite quality of each piece in the collection that sets Once Milano apart. Sublime simplicity is achieved by focusing on the essentials, so that every small detail is perfected. And the color palettes that Marchiorello develops each season are unfailingly divine. “I’m inspired everyday by our surroundings: art, food, what it means to be Italian, and the way we live, share food, and enjoy beautiful settings,” she explains. It’s la dolce vita reimagined for a discerning contemporary audience. You can even have your pieces monogrammed.

Once Milano Table Linens Photo © Once Milano “We always take our customers’ needs and their lifestyles into consideration,” Piovesana Thompson notes. “What we create is a response to how they like to use and wear our linen.” Very gradually, Once Milano has expanded its repertoire; branching first into timeless accessories like their gorgeous collection of multi-purpose Pochettes and lately into the stunningly flattering Linen Dressing Gown and other select garments ideal for relaxing around the home.

Honestly, the whole Once Milano collection is lust-worthy, so we really put the company’s founders on the spot when we asked them to pick just one or two pieces as their absolute favorites of the moment. Marchiorello opts for the linen blanket, “especially during these months of the year.” She adds, “We recently collaborated with Toogood and created a wonderful and exclusive range of loungewear and PJs—probably this is our latest addiction!” Piovesana Thompson, on the other hand, speaks about customers purchasing their first Once Milano pieces and recommends the linen napkins. “They are a good way to test our products,” she explains. “And they create a luxurious yet understated feel to the whole dinner table.”

For our part, we are absolutely in love with the stunning velvet blankets—available this season in sumptuous gold and a luxe dark red. How absolutely wonderful to line a winter nest with one of these soft, luxurious blankets; add a perfect loose leaf tea blend and a good book and spend some languorous hours away from the world. Now that’s the kind of everyday glamour that’s truly enviable.

  • Text by

    • Gretta Louw

      Gretta Louw

      A South-African born Australian currently based in Germany, Gretta is a globetrotting multi-disciplinary artist and language lover. She holds a degree in Psychology, and has seriously avant garde leanings.

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