Before I went to Venice recently, I'd read about Monica Danielle in several guidebooks and decided to check her out. Little did I know how much I'd enjoy learning about her passion for keeping the rich artistic traditions of Venice alive.
Monica is a native of Venice who began her career as a painter before she switched to making hats and scarves. Part of why she became a milliner is because she felt that it's too 'political' to make a go of it as a painter - 'and there's no heart in it,' she said. In contrast, her sense of style with clothing is evident in all of the work she features in her small shop.
How about the 'Venice Hat' and dashing cape (above) modeled after those worn by the American poet Ezra Pound (below)? Pound first visited Venice at the age of 13 on a three-month tour of Europe with his mother, and he later moved there, published his first book of poems and became known for his broad-brimmed hat.
Have you ever heard of a tabarro? It's a traditional cape that Venetians often wore during Carnival and throughout the year. Danielle features beautiful handmade tabarros. Here's a gorgeous one in yellow.
If you go to Monica's website, you'll see photos taken at a tabarro celebration in 2009, showing people keen on keeping the tabarro alive (plus, you'll see some shots of Piazza San Marco, the most famous square in Venice).
In addition to carrying hats and accessories made by other artisans, Monica sells some lovely hand-knitted scarves and hats that she makes herself. I was so taken with them that I bought a black and white tam with a matching scarf. Check out the lovely rosette (above) that's one of many that adorn my new scarf.
Monica, who's been running her shop (pictured above) for many years, spoke very openly about how 'it's not possible a vitare a Venezia (to live in Venice) - it's too expensive and very difficult with all the souvenirs.' That's all the more reason why I left her shop admiring her commitment to handmade craft.
You must visit Monica's shop if you're in Venice. I guarantee you won't leave empty handed because she goes out of her way to find something to suit you - and, there's so much to pick from. In the meantime, you can visit her virtually at MonicaDanielle.com.
(all photos except the photo of Ezra Pound are by David Gordon)