Lorenzo Borghi's story started in 1952, when at the age of twelve, he started working at the Lionello Passerini's millinery shop.
When Passerini died, Borghi took over the business and moved to Via dei Piatti in the heart of Milan. There, where he still works, he has been dedicated to the fine art of hat-making, in the traditional way, for over fifty years. In the course of his career, he has collaborated with the great fashion designers like Krizia, Ferré and Moschino, as well as with theatre costume makers. He makes hats for famous people (including Queen Elisabeth II) as well as ordinary individuals, but always with the same passion and love that only a true craftsman knows how to put into his creations.
Where did you learn your trade?
I started working directly in the shop as an apprentice at the age of twelve, without any formal schooling in the field.
Actually the uniqueness of what I do resides in my putting my heart and soul into what I create.
Today's schools are of no use: everyone studies fashion, but when they finish school, they know how to do nothing on a practical level.
What makes your hats unique?
I would say that it is the possibility of personalizing hats according to the client's wishes. Actually the uniqueness of what I do resides in my putting my heart and soul into what I create.
For us, to work is a privilege; it is what we are.
What kind of relationship do you have with the Milanese fashion scene?
Once upon a time, I collaborated with the fashion houses: Valentino, Moschino, Krizia, and above all Gianfranco Ferré, who won the Occhio d'Oro prize with one of my creations.
When I was working with theses great fashion designers, they would give me one of their sketches so I could make a model, or they would come directly to the shop and choose one of my creations.
What type of clientele buys your hats?
Clients from all over the world come to my shop, and this is also because I have worked outside Italy a lot, in particular in the United States and Japan, so I am very well known.
I also create both directly for the client, as well as for distribution in stores and boutiques. For the latter it works like this: I invent models for the current season, show them to the ones in charge of the store, who then choose what they want me to do for them. I create the hats, and once they've been produced, I ship them to the stores.
What are some of the critical aspects of your trade?
The main problem of craftsmanship is the total lack of government support for institutions: they do not understand that Italy lives on us artisans.
In the second place, there is no transmission of artisans' know-how. The trade must be taught when future craftsmen are still children, and this is where the laws on craftsmanship and craftsmen's work are wrong. Young people must have at least one year of apprenticeship in order to understand if they like this profession or not, or if they have a talent for it - you need patience and meticulousness. Today's schools are of no use: everyone studies fashion, but when they finish school, they know how to do nothing on a practical level.