«Only you can wear that, darling, with that lovely thin figure of yours». They have the rare gift of complimenting you in hyperbolic ways, with you knowing they can’t be honest and simultaneously, happily sinking into that sea of sheer, unapologetic flattery. They are Fratelli Broche, performing artists and owners of the vintage shop with the same name in Via San Vitale, just a few steps south of the two towers.
Up until I walked through the little glass door of this teeny tiny place (but don’t let size mislead you: they have a massive storehouse and customers from all around the world), I couldn’t care less for vintage. Though it was just a trendy word for second-hand, which I have nothing against, but just isn’t my cup of tea when it comes to clothes. Wrong. I was wrong.
When walking through Via San Vitale, it’s impossible not to stop and stare at the vivacious and graceful compositions of brightly coloured jewelry on display by the window. Then you keep looking and, without even noticing, you’re inside. From that moment on, the show begins. Stefano and Samuel (the eclectic duo that goes by the name of Fratelli Broche) take care of everything: set design, entertainment, and the above-mentioned flattery. But also intriguing anecdotes, very interesting conversations and, indeed, clothes and accessories. From the fifties, sixties, seventies and eighties. Designer clothes, high fashion bags and scarfs and hats, some tailor’s shops’ little gems.
And the experience. Shopping – or just browsing and stopping for a chat – at Fratelly Broche is mostly an experience. Other than making you travel in time and style, and indulging in a kaleidoscopic feast of organza, silk, linen, jersey, satin, the Fratellis will teach you a thing or two on why to shop vintage, how this has a lot to do with sustainability, history and memory. And, if you’re a bit like me, you will enter with a long face and exit an hour later with a huge smile on your face and a stylishly recycled bag full of amazing outfits that you’d never though would suit your style – but actually do – that didn’t cost an eye and that you cannot wait to put on.
NB I am not a fan of the article that the New York Times dedicated last year to Bologna for its 36 Hours series, but it did have the merit to feature Fratelli Broche among the not-to-be-missed things. And if you are a vintage-aholic, a lover of stylish clothes or just an admirer of rétro beauty, this is indeed an address you must not skip.