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1. What brought you to Italy?

We kick off our Spring design season with a trip to Milan. After Milan, we head to Florence to a yarn show, Pitti Filati. This trip is very inspirational for color and new yarn techniques.

2. Where did you stay during your trip?

The Classic Grand Hotel in Milan, and the Gallery Art Hotel in Florence. The hotel in Florence is near the base of the famous Ponte Vecchio, which is the only bridge that wasn't destroyed during WWII.

3. What’s your favorite purchase from the trip? (apparel, accessories, home?)

We always go inspiration hunting at a very large Vintage show. This year, I found a woman selling bits of tulle from the 1940s used in making ladies’ hats. We purchased the tulle for color inspiration. In Milan, we had another great find… A sweater and pant in a wonderful, warm neutral color which we are calling Fawn. The Italians really know how to create the most beautiful neutral colors!

4. What is your favorite photo from the trip + why did it inspire you?

A graffiti wall overlooking the Ponte Vecchio. The artist’s hand is comparable with ours at NIC+ZOE. The pattern looks like an artistic geo. Our entire team stopped to take photos.

5. Name a place that a first-time visitor must experience.

The Duomo, meaning “church” in Milan. It looks like an ornate wedding cake to me. Plus, the shopping area near the Duomo is fabulous.

6. Name 3 packing essentials for January in Italy.

-Umbrella – the weather is unpredictable this time of the year. Snow started to fall on our last day. -Sweater coats – I packed a new design we are working on and the weight was perfect for spending the day wandering in and out of shops in Milan and Florence. -A NIC+ZOE hand-painted scarf to compliment your everyday wardrobe. And our Modern Squares Necklace to instantly update your look for dinner or elevate a white or black tee.

7. Which of the trends that you picked up on did you find most inspiring + why?

Pastels have been brightened to beautiful wearable colors. Designers are relying less on black statements. Less black is very refreshing to see. I also love how designers were putting utility jackets with feminine lace dresses. The mix looked really fresh.

8. What is your favorite local dish?

We found a restaurant in Milan called Paper Moon. They had the best asparagus risotto. Asparagus are in season now in Italy, so it was so fresh and hearty for a cold winter night!

9. Anything else you’d like to add?

There is so much history in Italy. I love walking down the street and seeing the designer’s store fronts in in contrast with the historic buildings and streets.