We are in Milan, in the center of the fashion district, just steps from Via Montenapoleone and some of the most elegant boutiques in the city: Bottega Veneta, Roberto Cavalli, Fendi, Armani and Bulgari, to name a few. Inside a luxurious building dating back to the early 1900s with its marble floors and soft lighting, a friendly doorman welcomes you as he takes off his hat in greetings. Here is Re Ottavio, fine accessories for haute couture and historic workshop making handmade buttons and belts. On the walls, countless models of belts are displayed; each different in shape and color, some leather or metal and others with jewel inserts. Whereas, millions of shiny buttons are waiting impatiently in the drawers for their moment.
Re Ottavio – accessories for haute couture is a business more unique than rare, opened in 1934 by Ottavio Re and taken over around 1960 by Emanuele Coletto, father of Sergio, the current owner. Its story seems like something from a film: a young Emanuele, hired at 14 to work as an errand boy; he learned the secrets of the trade and latter an adult, bought the business where he worked with passion until he died in his late 80s. A passion passed down to his son Sergio, who alternates his work between the sales in the showroom and the design and production of articles in the adjacent workshop, where he is helped by two employees. No fashion or specialization courses for the Coletto family, just a strong sense of awareness and personal predisposition together with many years of hard work and experience.
This is how they were able to gain the trust and achieve solid relationships with the most prestigious names in Italian fashion; Valentino, Giorgio Armani, Lorenzo Riva, Raffaella Curiel and many others rely on Re Ottavio for handmade, unique pieces which complete their haute couture collections.
The Company’s strength is in the care and attention paid to each and every detail; everything is personalized and made to measure, so each piece is unique and one-of-a-kind. The fine materials used are: bones and horns, leathers, resins, ebony, mother of pearl and wood to create belts ranging from €30.00 to €300.00.
Among the many designs, one of Sergio’s most noteworthy pieces is undoubtedly a belt made for Fiona Svarovski; descendant of the famous brand of crystals and jewels as well as a historic customers. One day she had showed in the showroom with a model for a belt she had drawn and when Sergio has seen it, he wanted to see it worn by no one other than her.
Not only do great designers get what need at Re Ottavio’s, but so do tailors, dressmakers and individuals belonging to noble families and Milan’s wealthy, most “in” crowds. Regular clients who have bought for the past thirty years are the same who are now returning with their children and their grandchildren. A taste of elegance entirely feminine which however does not neglect, even to a slighter degree, the interests of men.