Interview with Lorenzo Borghi
Text Giacomo Andrea Minazzi
To make his hats he starts from the felt cone. First it must be wet and the next day it must be put in the steam. It is stuck with the reed on the wooden form, then placed in the oven and brushed. It is hung upwards, waiting on the supports for the “little ones” to finish it. Lorenzo Borghi is 77 years old now, he is tired and he will shut up shop in April. He still has a wish: «I would like someone who loved this art like me to buy my shop and carry on this business. Few people know how to do the artisan work as it should be done. The competence, the ability to move the hands are lacking. It takes time and even more care».
He was 12 years old when his mother told him and his brothers: «Like it or lump it!» The money was gone in the family. «I asked in the downstairs tailor’s shop if they knew someone who needed a hand. They sent me to serve my apprenticeship with a milliner, Lionello Passerini. I started sweeping and observing. One day he handed me a cone – the rough fabric to be modeled on the wooden shapes to create the hats – and he made me try. He corrected all my mistakes. We understood each other at a glance». Thus the story of Lorenzo Borghi began, born in 1940, perhaps the last milliner remained in Milan. His shop is in Via dei Piatti, a street besieged by beauty centers and made in China tailor’s shops.
To become a business partner of Passerini, he made the money for his marriage to be brought forward by an uncle, when Passerini died, and his mistress, who was also one of his partner, made all the liquidity and materials disappear, he saved the company. The suppliers and their trust in his art gave credit to him: «Then you will pay, because your hats are sold!» Shortly thereafter he moved to Via dei Piatti.
Starting from a shop assistant to create headgear for Moschino, Krizia and Ferré – among others, it was a sprint. «Working with these people meant doing things right. We thought together. Ferré asked me for such complex work that we took two days to make two hats. Another time Mariuccia (Krizia, ed.) made me prepare thirty hats in two models. With cloth daisies applied. The same evening she called me: ‘There’s something wrong, come and see’. I found her staring at all the hats on the floor. ‘The pricks have not the same height!’ – she exclaimed. A few flowers were more than a centimeter tall. We arranged them all, one by one. The day after, during the runway show, a model lost a daisy. She bent and threw it to the audience. So they all did, it was a success».
Fabbrica cappelli per signora Lorenzo Borghi
Via dei Piatti, 5 – Milano MI