Italy bears many wonders, from fresh mozzarella to facials and massages – I learned this first hand as I blogged my journey through Rome and Tuscany back in November. You may remember me making pasta from scratch with the chef at Antico Casale di Scansano, having my cake and bathing in it too, and swearing off PAM for the rest of my life… Italy has changed me for the better, and for good. Daria Reina in her atelier kitchen Towards the end of my trip I let up on the blogging to let relaxation fully kick in, but there was one inspiring person I deprived you of meeting (no, not Professor Bene). Her name is Daria Reina, and she and her artist husband Andrea Ferolla were in the early stages of launching an impossibly chic handbag collection under their label Chez Dédé. Dédé, I later learned from Daria, is a fanciful combination of their names (Da, drea). The owner of Wonderfool spa, Prospero, sold their debut collection in his spa, where I discovered them. The designs were unlike any in existence, with quirky animal cutouts on Palm Beach-meets-Tokyo patterns. The construction, utilitarian yet feminine; the shapes, unusual yet practical. Most notably, the branding was addictive. Prospero invited me out to dinner with some of his friends including the very-much-in-love Chez Dédé duo, and Daria invited me to come and visit her atelier the very next day. What a treat! She and Andrea, who operate an acclaimed, exclusive branding and web design business in Italy (check out their inimitable portfolio), work out of a house-like space as artful and Italian as their very souls. Andrea keeps to himself most of the time, but Daria balances them out, being one of the friendliest people I met in Italy (and that’s saying a lot). She made us strong cocktails, showed me their lush patio for parties in the summer (she said I’d have to come back for one!), and gave me an awe-inspiring tour of her work and all her works in progress. I couldn’t stop taking photos. A few weeks ago I was delighted to receive an invitation, as promised, to their first summer shindig. As sad as I was to not be able to hop on a plane for the occasion, the invitation came with the exciting news that it was in celebration of Chez Dédé’s newest launch: “Dédé À La Plage”, their Spring/Summer 2011 collection! One browse through, and that’s amore. And it wasn’t just me – Daria told me, “At the presentation in Rome last week we had something like 400 guests absolutely in love with the collection.” The carne of the collection are the beach bags, but they also made bracelets, man scarfs and pochettes for beach and not. Take a look at some of the designs below and more on chezdede.com. Each bag is named after a different beach destination, from Santorini to Kenya to The Hamptons – obsessed! Although Chez Dédé is not yet available in the states (only at Wonderfool and one other store in Rome), if you would like to order one, contact me and I will give you the hookup! Because when these bags are all over The Hamptons next summer, you know you’ll want to say you had it prima. The prices of bags range between 330€ and 475€ for the big model, and 250€ for the small. The pareo cost 168€, men scarfs 138€, and leather bracelets 117€. The beach pochette 125€. Email me at michelle at spaweekmedia dot com if you’re interested in ordering one from the US, and check it all out at chezdede.com. And for old time’s sake… Spa-rrividerci!