Her look speaks for her. Cecilia Matteucci Lavarini, often defined eccentric is a collector who lives for fashion and loves fashion. She resembles a modern Duchessa Casati, or else a Modigliani muse, or perhaps a woman who just stepped out of a Boldini painting – but always with the attitude of a businesswoman. Over the years, she has gathered more than 3,000 pieces (minus the 309 she donated to the Galleria del Costume of Palazzo Pitti in Firenze) consisting of Haute Couture, Prêt-à-Porter and accessories. All of this is layered, exposed, and stored in her awe-inspiring home where every corner conveys style and art. The items come from auctions at Sotheby’s or Christies, but also from the flea markets in Versilia where Cecilia and her late friend, Manuela Pavesi, were regulars for a long time. She has one rule when she buys: the previous owner is not important. She just wants the piece to be in the best state of preservation, to know the original date when it has been crafted, and possibly for it to be of her size. And then, to leave the dress untouched after the purchase.
Her social lifestyle has made her one of the most recognisable fashion connoisseurs in the world. “I have a Biki jacked owned by Maria Callas”, she said during the conversation. “I wore it during the opening of the exhibition Bulgari. La storia, Il sogno at Palazzo Venezia and Castel Sant’Angelo in Roma in 2019”. On display were high jewellery pieces that belonged to Elizabeth Taylor, Gina Lollobrigida, Ingrid Bergman, Anna Magnani e Audrey Hepburn along with the largest-ever selection of dresses from her Matteucci collection.
“The look I’m wearing in this photo has a very special meaning for me as it is a Chanel Haute Couture jacket from the 1960s. I bought during an auction, so [I know] it was designed by Coco Chanel herself”, she explains. “And the sandals are also Chanel, but by Karl (Lagerfeld)”. Once, during an interview, she declared that she loves anything shiny – say, in gold or silver. Yet another reason why this piece is special to her.
Fashion is imbued in Matteucci’s DNA. Her family owned the famous Grandi Magazzini Fratelli Lavarini di Montecatini Terme, a store in the well-known Tuscan spa city that, for more than a century, was the hottest shopping spot in the region. Since the age of 15, she used to travel with her father to the showroom where she would view the collections. There, the mood was very intimate and exclusive – an occasion to observe the beauty of precious, tailormade clothes. Her lifelong encounters and the invaluable time she spent with artists and designers such as Giorgio Morandi and Giorgio de Chirico and Coco Chanel have shaped her distinct sensibility that conveys a love of fashion – and so much more.”