Worldly Inspirations: An Interview with Designer Barbara Abbatemaggio from Sorelle Firenze

By: Cyndi Amaya

Traveling to far off places often leaves us with inspiration; whether it's a new outlook on life or an insight to a culture different from ours. For Barbara Abbatemaggio, traveling always works as an inspiration to her and her fashion line, Sorelle Firenze. One particular recent trip to Ethiopia, has inspired her and her business partner and sister, Monica, to bring in traditional Ethiopian textiles and techniques and blend it to their chic New York City style.

Check out our interview below of Barbara and what inspired her recent scarf collection for Sorelle Firenze.

Tell me a bit about yourself and your sister, Monica, and what led up to Sorelle Firenze.

My sister and I have always shared a love of clothing. As children we played with fabrics while our mother sewed dresses for us. Our passion continued and grew and resulted in the a Tribeca Boutique that we had for 8 years, which became synonymous not only for the interesting mix of designers we stocked, but for our own line that we started producing, along with the styling work that took on a life of its own.

What kind of woman (or man) would love to wear Sorelle Firenze?

The Sorelle Firenze man or woman is usually well-traveled, creative and open-minded with a sense of style and confidence. And as we are also stylists, our clients work in a variety of fields, from corporate to entertainment, so from the conservative to a little bit of rock and roll. Regardless of occupation, it's about working with them to bring out a sense of style that is uniquely their own and sits well with their personality, life style.....with a little bit of a Sorelle edge in the mix.

What inspires all of your designs?

Traveling and people, the sights of street life, colors, textures and textiles and of course the silhouette.

Tell me about your scarves and their Ethiopian origin.

It was a trip I made to Ethiopia 3 to 4 years ago, possibly one of the most inspiring trips of my life to date. I was taken by the beauty, the colors and the people. I knew that I wanted to bring a little piece of it back with me to the States and as we have always loved scarves and find them such a wonderful accessory, for men and women, a scarf seemed like the perfect way to accomplish this. So I came up with the idea of taking a traditional Ethiopian scarf and mixing it with our sensibilities and style, from there we worked with local weavers to develop the line further and bring the scarf to fruition.

Where in Ethiopia do get the materials from and do you work with any particular tribe?

Even though we have production in Addis Ababa and specific people we have made relationships with through our time there, we have also traveled through Ethiopia to tribes and villages to understand more of their methods and techniques.

How has working with producers from Africa changed your line and its direction?

It hasn't really changed the line so much as it has enriched what we do and inspired us to reach further afield and immerse ourselves with other local artisans and techniques from around the world, as well as delving deeper into Italy and looking past the icons that have inspired us in the past to include the neighboring craftsmen and women that are part of the fabric of Italian life.

What are some upcoming designs, inspirations, or projects that people can look out for?

Keep an eye out for our Ethiopian bedding collection, a new line of exquisite Italian scarves and stay tuned for children's wear. Of course there are also always our bespoke creations made to measure, from wedding dresses to customized shirts and more.

Where can fans buy your creations?

Directly to order, or made to measure, from Sorelle Firenze at Scarves are also available from Yoya in NYC.

For more information about Barbara and Sorelle Firenze, check out their website here. You can follow them on Twitter (@sorellefirenze) and Facebook.

Photos courtesy of Barbara Abbatemaggio

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