The New York Times: In Milan, a Store With a Back Story

Lorenzi Milano, a new take on a heritage brand, plans to open its first store this spring.

By Kerry Olsen

MILAN — The current give and take between the worlds of men’s and women’s wear does not work in only one direction. In Milan, Lorenzi Milano is about to open its first store — with a mission to not only preserve an Old World culture and civility but to cater to women.
It should be welcome news for fans who include Johann Rupert, chairman of the luxury group Richemont; the designer Marc Newson; Prince Philip; and Silvio Berlusconi, the former Italian prime minister, all of whom were fervent collectors of the knives, gentleman’s grooming tools and esoteric cutlery of G. Lorenzi, and most of whom went into a kind of mourning when the brand shuttered in 2014.
“G. Lorenzi was a completely masculine store,” said Serena Lorenzi, 30, one of the family members behind the rebirth of the business as Lorenzi Milano. “Its owners were male, as were the sales staff. My grandmother would assist at Christmas but there was no space for women. They were supposed to be at home, making dinner.”
That was 1929, however, when the company was founded by Giovanni Lorenzi. Its new incarnation by Mauro Lorenzi, a grandson, aims to stretch the country’s tradition of well-crafted objects into a new, rarefied realm fit for the contemporary era. After all, women like to play with knives, too.
The family-run brand, which introduced its e-commerce site in 2018, now plans to open its store this spring in an imposing 1920s palazzo on the Piazza Meda, within walking distance of the Duomo. Ms. Lorenzi said the marble and wooden counters on the 1,076-square-foot ground floor will reflect the look of a traditional shop. Displays of scissors, razors, tweezers and brushes will be a nod to the brand’s origins. And its best-selling wares, all designed in-house, include items like a chrome-plated brass toothpaste squeezer, a nail brush inlaid with carbon fiber and a Canaletto walnut valet set on a white Carrara marble base will stand alongside new items like an oyster knife and wooden block for shucking them.

There won’t be any bling. Lorenzi Milano may offer a $29,000 cigar set fashioned with mammoth tusk but the boutique is to retail accessible keepsakes. Toothbrushes and nail brushes will start at around $25.
“Luxury is not about price. It’s something that makes you feel good,” said Mr. Lorenzi, 62, who started working in the original store at 16 and has devoted his life to making such functional, yet luxurious goods. “An elegant person with taste, does not show off.”
“My craftsmen belong to the same generation that I knew 20 or 30 years ago in the Via Monte Napoleone store. They have followed me here,” continued Mr. Lorenzi, who was born in the mountainous Italian region of western Trentino. In Napoleonic times, armies passed through those mountain valleys and, to repair weapons, its residents became expert knife-grinders. He has maintained that legacy and passed it on to his daughters, Ms. Lorenzi, the company’s business development manager, and her sister Linda, its production manager.
The business’s specialty items are produced in an atelier in the Navigli district of Milan, close to the city’s canals. There, six artisans transform horn, bamboo, crocodile, mother-of-pearl and even dinosaur fossil into singular objects.
Raw materials are selected to match the potential destination of an object: Deer antlers for a mountain retreat; horn from zebu, Southeast Asia’s humped cattle, for a city residence and bamboo for a seaside home. Lobster shears and claw crackers have bamboo-root grips. Truffle cutters come with warthog-tusk handles, and caviar sets are crafted in mother-of pearl to protect the flavor of the delicacy. Ms. Lorenzi, who says she hopes to take the company’s reins down the road, said a customer should think: “I’m buying this, and my great-grandchildren are going to use it one day.” “It’s a concept that goes against the philosophy to update and discard purchases every few years,” she said. “Time adds to the value of an object; it transforms it into something bello.” And allows a family to carve a new legacy of gender parity.

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