November 2018 - 6 Minute read

What's on your list,
Giotto Calendoli?

How Milan based designer Giotto Calendoli fulfilled his wish to express his motto ‘Handle with Freedom’

The freethinker:

In Italy, artistic legacies were built because artists had the freedom to express themselves. The birth of the renaissance, the era when baroque superseded gothic was arguably the greatest ignition of creative expression in history. It’s against this historical backdrop, that designer Giotto Calendoli is at home in Milan, planning a trip to the Montblanc Pelletteria in Florence. His apartment is scattered with sketches and features a photo wall of family memorabilia. Unbeknownst to his landlord, Giotto has turned the entire entrance into a floor-to-ceiling mural of quotes, scribbles, memories and figures. It’s a personal inspiration board for his fashion label: ‘Handle with Freedom’. He talks about his work as a designer, saying he’d always hoped to handle a product of the past with the freedom of the present and thanks to Montblanc, he is able to marry these two worlds and fulfill this wish.

“For me freedom means a way of life”

- Giotto Calendoli, designer

Giotto is holding a photo of his grandfather; it carries a simple connotation of freedom. His grandfather looks so relaxed, so happy and so at ease. There’s an air of confident ambivalence, like he knows the secret to living life well. Giotto talks about how the name for his label came about: “‘Handle with Freedom’ began 6 years ago thanks to my grandmother... When I was a child, my grandmother used take to me to my grandfather’s room and would always give me some of his clothes or accessories. Every time she would give me something special, she always told me ‘please, handle with care’ – that’s how ‘Handle with Freedom’ was born.” It’s a motto he sticks to in both life and work, and this collaboration is no different.

“I’m a person who doesn't follow stereotypes in life, a free person, a person with his own ideas, but above all with a strong personality.”

- Giotto Calendoli, designer

Believing in dreams:

Giotto travels to Florence and takes the train to the Montblanc Pelletteria. He’s wearing an old shirt of his grandfather’s, pinstripe flares, and has his hair neatly tucked into a bun. He’s packed his precious family photos, he wants to show the Pelletteria staff his inspiration. Once there, Giotto channels his creativity by imprinting a customized Montblanc Sfumato Pocket Holder, inspired by the concept of living out one’s dreams. “I have always been a dreamer - or better, always worked hard to pursue my dreams”, he said, touching leather samples, “so this is proof that dreams can be realized if you really believe in them.”

“DREAMER A person whose vision, their ambitions plant the seed of the future”

- Giotto Calendoli, imprinted on a custom Montlbanc Sfumato bag

A grandfather’s legacy:

Standing over the cutting table at the Montblanc Pelletteria, Giotto talks more about his label. The attention to detail, the manufacturing and quality of the Montblanc products parallel what he strives for in his own label. His grandfather handed clothes down to him and Giotto uses the context of the past to describe his hopes for the future. “I handled his clothes with freedom and expressed myself. We still live in a place where people can’t be free at all and where freedom of expression is not permitted. I really wish that one day this can be just a distant memory,” he says earnestly.

“We still live in a place where people can’t be free at all and where freedom of expression is not permitted. I really wish that one day this can be just a distant memory.”

- Giotto Calendoli, on his hopes for the future

Past and present:

The customized Montblanc Sfumato Pocket Holder is a meeting of the past with the present, the manifestation of Giotto fulfilling his wish. He holds the product while looking at the ‘DREAMER’ message next to a photo of his grandparents. The present in one hand, the past in the other. Giotto speaks warmly, saying his grandfather would have enjoyed how he fulfilled his wish to handle a product with the freedom of the present - leaving behind a message for fellow ‘dreamers’. Creators like Giotto leave a lasting legacy because they’ve had the opportunity to create in an environment where freedom of expression is accepted. So these holidays, Montblanc is helping other artists fulfill their wishes, from New York to London to the remote mountains of Kyrgyzstan.