Tod’s equestrian touch




and drive


Tod’s new creative director is afraid of horses – though they remain an important inspiration in the Italian scuderia.


By Camilla Alfthan



It was the Sella Bag which marked the beginning of Tod’s flirtation with the equestrian universe. Made with the finest leather and hand sewn at the Cassette d’Ete head quarters in Marche in Northern Italy the bag has already become a classic since it’s introduction just two years ago.


Last year, the Los Angeles based photographer David LaChapelle created a surreal campaign for the Sella bag in his studio using plastic horses and hand painted art works.

With ‘reality’ as the theme for the autumn season, the following campaign was set in the country side featuring real horses and rolling hills. At the end of the narrativethe heroine jumps off her bay mount to join her boyfriend in his red sports car.

Cars were after all the starting point for Tod’s who is famous for their iconic driving shoe – il gommino – which is made with hand stiched leather and rubber studs and recently they started a collaboration with Ferrari – the makers of the famous, Italian sports car with the rearing black horse.

Extending on the equestrian theme, the Bucket Bag is the latest design in the Tod’s bag collection with a ‘bridle’ handle which will become a characteristic design signature. New shapes for 2015 have references to horses’ saddles through a contemporary exploration of construction and functionality  such as the Cape Bag which closes in on itself.


“The horses continue to inspire us. But I don’t ride and I’m actually a little bit afraid of horses. I don’t even have a drivers license. I walk to the office or I take my bicycle,” tells Tod’s sympathetic design director, Alessandra Facchinetti as she bursts out with a laugh.

The British Vogue has called her “the fashion world’s most underrated designer”.  She’s dressed in a pale blue shirt in paper thin, soft calf skin with a pair of white trousers and Tod’s famous gommino that she has given a new touch. She wears no jewelry and her expressive eyes are framed with black eye shadow.


“The horses continues to inspire us. But I don’t ride and I’m actually a little bit afraid of horses. I don’t even have a drivers license.”


Last year, the 41- year old designer was head hunted to the famous Italian leather goods house to create the new Tod’s woman. A job that literally seemed made to measure, as Facchinetti is the incarnation of the modern, Italian woman with an understated cool.

But perhaps more importantly, she has an impressive track record working in fashion houses where the collections were hand made in Italy. It was Facchinetti who took the hot seat from Tom Ford at Gucci in 2004 when he suddenly left the company – and later she took the reins at Valentino when the founder of the house, Valentino Caravagi, was forced to retire.

Both places the designer had to adapt to the heritage of iconic brands and take inspiration from their archives. The restrictions did not seem to suit her and she did not stay for long. With Tod’s, however, there’s a completely different scene.


“I have a fantastic relationship with my boss, Diego Della Valle, who gives me the freedom to do whatever I like. He’s one of the most conservative people when it comes to protecting the Italian crafts. When it comes to the design I have free hands. I create clothes, new shoes, bags and belts. The impact is completely different now that fashion plays a greater part in Tod’s,” she tells with a smile.


It’s been busy days since you started last year.


Yes, it’s been a little overwhelming to start a new job, make new designs and travel so much at the same time. But nowadays, fashion is very much about what people want. When I return home I’m filled with new ideas and inspiration.


What was the first thing that you designed ? 


The mocassins. Everyone knows them in Italy and I wanted to give them a slightly new touch.


What is your favorite piece ?


The shirts. I wear them everyday. They look like they’re made of cotton but the material is more luxurious and they’re casual at the same time. Usually, I mix the brands that I wear. But lately, I’m only wearing Tod’s even in the evenings. It’s actully a little strange. (Laughs.)


Who is your hardest critic ?


I am. I’m very hard with myself and sometimes I hate what I did. Then I just start over again until I get it right.


So many young designers today don’t even know how to sew a dress..


It’s a problem with the young generation. You need work experience but you also need to study. I went to art school and I got my first job when I was 20. I always designed fashion “Made in Italy” and I know, of course, how to sew.


What are you the most proud of ?


My team. The artisans are very important – they have to follow me – and I often go to the work shops in Milan and Florence to explain what I want from them. Our relationship is very good.  I like to treat the leather like a fabric and use modern techniques like laser to cut it. They are incredible –  they’ll do anything for me.


When you’re not working, where do you go to relax ?


I go to Puglia in the South of Italy for the holidays. It has a very rich, beautiful architecture and colours which inspire me a lot. I keep going back.


Your father is a part of the pop groop I Pooh. Are you really a rock chick ?

No, not at all. (Laughs.) I grew up in a very normal family. Dad is a singer and it’s a job that he always had. We’ve lived a very normal life.


Are you going to have your own children ?

Oh no, I really don’t have the time for that now. There’s so much to do and Tod’s is just a baby. It’s my child right now.




Alessandra Facchinetti

Alessandra Facchinetti is the incarnation of the chic, understated Italian woman who also has a very clear vision about what she is doing. 

The new Cape Bag

Facchinetti’s Cape Bag with curves and shapes that evoke saddlery.