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Friday, March 30, 2018

Visit to Francesco Maglia Umbrellas in Milan and Custom Umbrella Review

I've been wanting to make a visit to the Francesco Maglia Umbrella atelier for a couple of years, but whenever we were in town for business, or on holiday, our time was too crunched to allow for the long visit this magical workshop deserves.   When living in California one is not pressed to even consider the umbrella much.  I'm not even entirely sure I owned an umbrella when I lived in So. Cal.  Rain, of course, does occur in California, but with such infrequency that, an umbrella let alone a bespoke luxury umbrella is not on one's radar.  Munich, on the other hand, can be a bit of a rain bucket, where a good sturdy, well-made umbrella is more than just handy, but a necessity.  Having too long huddled under a cheaply made canopy, suffering the indignity of inferior materials and badly bent frame, an upgrade was long overdue!  To characterize a bespoke Francesco Maglia umbrella as merely an upgrade is an understatement of the highest order.  Indeed, it's like trading in a Yugo (remember those) for a Ferarri.

Even fully collapsable umbrella are entirely handmade on site:

Located away from the center of Milan, Francesco Miglia, is not a shop that will just be stumbled on while enjoying the sights, it must be sought out and even then, it's a bit difficult to find being located off-street in the underground space of the large apartment block, it's hardly the showroom/boutique that one would expect from one of the world's great luxury, handcrafted umbrella makers.  Once one has found it, however, one is greeted by the maestro himself, who will gladly lead you down into his enchanted domain.

Choosing my hardware and initial Plaque:

Senior Maglia turning on the old-school Italian charm:

Steaming out the wrinkles before final shipping:

Francesco Maglia is not just the name of the company but the name of the great man himself. 5th generation mastercraftsman (the firm having been founded in 1854), salesman, enchanting wizard and glad-hander in equal measure, he is happy to speak with you in English or German and of course Italian and probably a dozen other languages as well.  Preaching the gospel of the bespoke, handmade umbrella, he will patiently show you the entire process of building your custom umbrella, walking you through all your choices and offing advice as needed to achieve your own canopy of perfection.

Senior Maglia and my wife Andrea choosing fabric to match my chosen stick (no detail is too small for the maestro):

All fabric from the lake Como mill is closely inspected to assure water tightness:

Senior Maglia's sister in law laying out the fabric for cutting:

Canopy fabric cut and ready for assembly:

Senior Maglia, together with a small staff of craftsmen and craftswomen, some of whom are members of the family and others are longtime employees, make each and every umbrella onsite and almost entirely by hand.  I think about the only machine I saw on site was a sewing machine for assembling the canopies.  Many parts including the sticks and handles and much of the hardware is made in-house.  Most of the fabrics are woven exclusively for Francesco Maglia at a friend's factory in Como Italy,  a region famous for weaving silks from many centuries.

For my custom umbrella, I chose a solid stick of bentwood maple cut to the perfect length for my height and with a handsome fabric of green with contrasting strips of Yellow and Orange - I think this particular fabric has great country colors that will pair well with my Tweed heavy wardrobe, but as you can see, he's got just about any color, stripe, polka dot, and pattern one could possibly imagine.

Showing the family tree and photo album:

Photo of the founding family members:

The Maestro points to a photo of a sea of umbrellas

To say that my wife and I were charmed by Senior Maglia and his umbrella kingdom is an understatement.  This is among the happiest memories we have of our many visits to Milan that we will cherish for the rest of our lives.

As my wife say's "It's like stepping into a Mary the Poppins wonderland".

My bespoke umbrella Arrives about 6 weeks:

Beautiful satin finished solid maple handle:

So pleased with these color stripes:

Beautifully assembled canopy:

Solid metal tip will last many years:

The feeling of quality is unmistakable:

My Initials hand engraved on a plaque of Silver:

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