Read
Tips
Video
Info
Gallery
Profile
Swiss Flights
My World

Of cashmere and art

Who could possibly clothe frequent travellers better than someone who travels frequently herself? Sabine Parenti, however, had more reasons than this for establishing a cashmere label that is now sold throughout the world. 

Text:
Dörte Welti
Photos:
Agi Simoes
M

“my travels act as inspiration.”

For the past twelve years, Sabine Parenti has had her own cashmere label, the idea growing from pullovers made when the youngest of her three children went off to boarding school. Though it all began as knitwear for children and teenagers, their mothers soon fell in love with the smartly cut and superbly finished pieces which from the very start were available only at private sales events. Today, 25 agents from Oslo to Istanbul and from New York to Moscow organise the exclusive sales in private showrooms where attendance is by invitation only. The collections consist of pullovers, dresses and coats in cashmere, together with silk items in matching colours. The self-made businesswoman, who has modelling experience, describes her style as “simple, feminine and a little sexy, but smart sexy …”. What inspires this Dusseldorf-born designer, who gained her sales and marketing experience with such acclaimed brands as Helmut Lang and Wolfgang Joop? “My collection caters to the needs of cosmopolitan women who are frequent travellers and who have an interest in fashion. They travel light and wear pullovers and blazers during the day for meetings and appointments; they also take matching silk pieces along with them on their flights – et voilà: in no time at all, they have the perfect outfit for the evening, too.”

Aisle of art: one wall of the hallway (right) is decorated with a collage in adhesive tape by Nic Hess, a birthday present to Sabine Parenti from her children; during its creation, Hess lived and worked in the house as a sort of artist in residence. Left: installation formed from blue velvet cushions by Stephen Hepworth.

A FUNCTIONAL WARDROBE

She makes it easy for her growing customer base to return to her private sales season after season – there are two collections each year – in order to choose the items they like in person and to place their orders. After that, they wait for the clothes to be made up since nothing is produced until an order has been placed: The designs of parenti’s are hallmarked by a sophisticated colour concept. There are new shades every season within the collection that are carefully selected to allow customers to combine items and to create an individually coordinated theme with the pullovers, knitted jackets, dresses and silk blouses they order.

Parenti’s Cashmere is apt to become addictive: despite their on-trend cut and fashionable colours, the new models are designed so that they can also be worn with items from past seasons. Masterpiece: a hand-knitted cashmere pullover which is longer in the back than the front.

“A perfect travel kit!” Sabine Parenti knows precisely what she is talking about as she travels frequently herself and regularly visits her agents. She finds this contact crucial: exchanging ideas and discussing customers’ specific needs are among the reasons behind her success. But the trips she takes also serve another purpose as they act as inspiration: “When I travel to all the different places around the world, I always try to find time to visit exhibitions and galleries. It’s not just the art that I find fascinating, I also draw inspiration from the various looks and personalities of the women I see in the galleries and strolling around the cities I go to. I try to take all of this on board and to make use of it in our collections. The biggest challenge is finding the perfect combination in the end and balancing this with my own style.”

Needless to say, Sabine Parenti is unwilling to forgo her beloved art in her own studio and showroom. Behind the clothes rack carrying the models from her current collection hangs a work by Turner Prize winner Keith Tyson.

ART IN THE HERE AND NOW

Sabine Parenti has always had a passion for art and this is evident in both her own home and her business premises: contemporary items as far as the eye can see. “I have realised how difficult it is to understand the art of our own time,” explains the mother of three. “With the old masters, you know in retrospect the reasons why they painted in one way and not in another. But in the case of contemporary art, this is a challenge; you have to learn how to understand the present. I enjoy cultivating contacts with living artists. You rethink your own position, you find yourself in a process of continual change and are constantly prepared to open yourself up to something new.” But also to go back to the beginnings, as is the case now: there is going to be a children’s collection once again. For the first time online. So something new as well!

The kitchen of the Parentis’ home is an astonishing international gallery. A work by Ameri­can Matt Mullican rubs shoulders with Swiss art by the likes of Tobias Madison and Dieter Roth (who originally came from Germany and sadly died far too young). These are joined by Nordic works by Elmgreen & Dragset and art made in Austria by Erwin Wurm.

You could also be interested in:
Thank you! Your submission has been received!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.
Home
Places
People
Pleasure
Editorial
Media Guide
Also explore
People, Places, Pleasure
from around the globe in our Swiss Universe App