“Once upon a time a princess in a tannery…” No, that is not the beginning of a fairy tale. It is a news story actually. In fact, on July 9 Sirivannavari Nariratana, the 32-year-old daughter of the king of Thailand, visited Conceria Stefania: here she could watch and admire leather samples manufactured by the company, headquartered in Lombardy, as well as a museum set up by the same firm in Turbigo. Here the princess-designer had the opportunity to enjoy a collection of 16,000 pairs of shoes: maybe, who knows, she will take inspiration from it. Actually, Sirivannavari’s journey was not a courtesy call, but a professional visit. Thai princess also founded Sirivannavari Bangkok, an apparel brand that is now aiming to add women footwear to its own product supply.
Discovering leather made in Italy
Well, Sirivannavari is a designer who is planning to launch herself into the footwear business. That is why she intentionally decided to get in touch with a tannery, renowned for the manufacturing of leather for high-end footwear. “The princess looked at all samples by paying close attention – said Francesco Falzone, Conceria Stefania security supervisor –; in particular, she was most interested in tints and shades, and materials assessment as well. She could also show off her technical expertise about leather”.
As we said, on July 9, at about 11.20am, seven vans and a limousine car arrived at the entrance gate of Conceria Stefania. Around 30 people, including the fashion house technical staff and diplomatic entourage, came along with princess Sirivannavari on her visit: Police escorted all of them, considering that a member of a royal family was on tour. All the Ramponi family, heirs to founder Francesco, warmly welcomed the Princess of Thailand. Giuseppe Pignatiello, mayor of Castano Primo, was there with them. The meeting went on for three hours or so. “At the end of her visit, the princess left the factory – carried on Falzone –: she said she was delighted with what she had seen and touched personally, and she acknowledged, once again, Italian manufacturing top quality”.
Preconditions and consequences
For the records, a precedent engaged Conceria Stefania and Thai institutions. In 1998, former Thailand ambassador in Italy, at that time, visited the Lombard tannery during an international cooperation project. Two meetings with Thai diplomatic envoys and representatives were scheduled ahead of the princess-designer visit: the former with the consul, Alberto Virgilio, in Milan, the latter with the ambassador, Chirdchu Raktabutr, in Rome. They now hope that Sirivannavari will turn her own interest into provision orders. Not only Conceria Stefania would benefit from that, but also the whole area around Castano.