... Over time they could have done it, perhaps to increase production, meeting the demands of the market, but at that point, they would have become something different and above all, they would no longer have fun. Loretta Caponi was born in 1924 in Fiesole, just outside of Florence; she was sewing and embroidering dresses and nightgowns from a young age. After World War II, she befriended a woman who regularly traveled to Paris and who began selling Loretta’s bras and nightgowns to friends there. The money Loretta earned from the arrangement was enough to buy her first home. Around the same time, Loretta began collecting antique embroideries. Today, the archive has over 30,000 pieces, with garments once owned by Queen Victoria, a dress that belonged to Empress Elisabeth of Austria, and monogrammed fabrics from Victor Emmanuel I. Many of the pieces Loretta collected informed her designs — a nightdress once owned by Napoleon's sister Pauline Bonaparte, for example, inspired one of her most popular nightie styles, the Paolina. By 1967, she was able to open a tiny shop on Borgo Ognissanti in central Florence, in whose front window she displayed her first design — a smocked nightgown in colorful printed cotton, rather than nylon, which had been in vogue. Over the years, Loretta produced more than 20,000 designs. These days, all of the company’s bespoke production is still done in-house. The embroideries are made entirely by hand, involving a process called spolvero, in which minuscule holes are made over the lines of a drawing, then dusted over with a blue-solution-soaked sponge. “Our aim is to keep tradition as it has always been, but at the same time, to innovate a new way of doing business,” - Guido Conti Caponi, chief operating officer.