Book Title: Sass, Smarts, and Stilettos: How Italian Women Make the Ordinary Extraordinary by Gabriella Contestabile
Category: Adult Non-Fiction, 201 pages
Genre: Travel / Arts / Fashion / Self-help
Publisher: Sumisura Publications
Release date: November 2017
Tour dates: April 23 to May 11, 2018
Content Rating: G (No violence. No swear words. No sex scenes.)
Ah, that inimitable Italian style. It’s embedded in an Italian woman’s DNA. Fashion doesn’t define her. She defines herself. She knows an extraordinary life is not about status, money, or achievement. The only mastery it requires is one her heritage has given her, the irrepressible passion to make art of life itself.
Ask an Italian woman where she gets her sense of style and she will tell you it’s not about labels. It’s tethered to humble roots; humanity, community, conscious consumerism, and a profound appreciation for art in all its forms.
Sass, Smarts and Stilettos takes the reader on a journey from the humble hill towns of Abruzzo to the revered fashion capitals of Milan and Rome, into the artisan workshops of Florence, and the humanistic business practices of Luisa Spagnoli, Brunello Cuccinelli, and Alberta Ferretti, from the emergence of Italy’s fashion industry after WWII, to slow food and sustainable fashion initiatives taking root around the world.
Life lessons echo in the words of the author’s mother and grandmother, in the voices of Italian film divas, designers, tastemakers, writers, and artisans across generations, from the first Sala Bianca in Florence to the game-changing design ethic of Franca Sozzani, Miuccia Prada, and Donatella Versace.
Learn how to live fully within your own philosophy of living. Say goodbye to mindless consumerism, emotional clutter, and others’ expectations. Create a personal style that fits like a custom blazer by Ferrè and enchants like the colors of a Sicilian sunset. Then go on to craft an extraordinary and empowering life made-to-measure for you alone.
I savored this book. It made me proud of my Italian heritage, my humble beginnings, my immigrant parents' experience, and the Italian language. It made me nostalgic for Rome, for Abruzzo and made me want to go to Florence. Most of all, I felt a strong kinship with the author because we shared so many of the same experiences. Even our grandmothers had the same name!
Sass, Smarts, and Stilettos is a series of essays that celebrates the Italian woman. Part memoir, part travelogue and history lesson on Italy's fashion industry, this book is a pleasure to read as it is filled with vignettes of different people who have touched the author's life in one way or another. First and foremost, there is the author's mother Clelia with her mani d'oro (golden hands) to whom the author dedicates the book, and reminiscent to me of my own mother who sewed all my clothes as a child and taught me how to shop for quality items.
The author brings out the courage and creativity of the women who were a tour de force in rebuilding Italy from the ashes of war. I learned about women such as the Sorelle Fontana, Luisa Spagnoli (founder of the Perugina Empire) and interesting tidbits about Sophia Loren and Anna Magnani (my own mother's favorite actress) and the author's own grandmother Nonna Laura.
This book is well-written, enjoyable to read and for me inspiring. It is an ode to women everywhere. The author's love of art, beauty, and pride in her Italian heritage shines in every page. It made me appreciate the advice she lovingly and unapologetically dispenses regarding sustainable chic, less is more, femininity, friendship and family.
If you are an Italophile, feminist, creative, entrepreneur, and a woman, you will enjoy this book. It made me more aware of my role in life, my own femininity and most of all my strength. It also made me realize how important it is to pass down cultural traditions to our children and to educate them on their roots.
Sass, Smarts, and Stilettos is the perfect book to gift or share with your girlfriends, your mother, your sisters, your BFF and that female boss you admire. A delightful and inspiring read!
The book/travel initiative has its roots in her pre-writer life as a foreign language teacher, later as Executive Director and Vice President of International Training in a number of global companies (including Estee Lauder, Shiseido, and Prada Beauty) where she would create immersive and unconventional learning experiences in unique settings around the world.
One of her favorite pastimes, wherever she is in the world, is to scout out the best, and most ‘Italian’ espresso in the hood. It requires multiple tastings, but that’s the idea. Gabriella was born in Italy, and raised in Ottawa and New York City, where she currently lives with her husband, her mother, and a furry Shih Tzu named Oreo.
Connect with the Author: Website ~ Twitter ~ Facebook ~ Instagram ~ LinkedIn