That v is not a typo. “The [Italian] word giuliva means joyful and lighthearted,” explains Margherita Cardelli, who founded the Italian fashion label Giuliva Heritage Collection in 2016 with her now husband, Gerardo Cavaliere. Giuliva was also the name of a bicycle that Cavaliere had once designed and built for himself, a detail as revealing and emblematic of the brand as the definition of the word itself. “Yes,” says Cardelli with a laugh, “Gerardo has always had a passion for making things by hand.”
In less than four years, Giuliva Heritage has established itself as the go-to ready-to-wear label for sophisticated, hand-finished pieces in classic silhouettes that recall the custom-tailored looks memorialized by silver-screen doyennes of the past. Today, they’re worn by style stars such as Phoebe Waller-Bridge, Sienna Miller, and Lauren Santo Domingo.
Giuliva was also the name of a bicycle that Cavaliere had once designed and built for himself.
As much as thoughtfully produced, lasting apparel feels relevant—even urgent—in the fashion world right now, the label’s own gravitation toward slow fashion extends back to Cavaliere’s childhood, in Salerno. “He never owned a pair of jeans. His mother always made things by hand, and his uncle was a tailor,” says the 37-year-old Cardelli over the phone from Rome, where the label is based. Cavaliere, 39, is there with her, but Cardelli speaks in English for the two of them. While the rest of their team is working remotely, Gerardo and Margherita have been working back and forth between their home and their new atelier space nearby. “We’re using this extra time to think even more creatively about our next collection, going back through old archive pieces and inspiration and of course spending more time together as a family with our daughter,” says Cardelli.
The fact that they often share a single voice is symbolic of the pair’s brand and relationship. The spring-summer ’20 lookbook, shot on the island of Ischia, features Cardelli as its model, while Cavaliere played photographer behind the scenes with an analogue camera. “We live and breathe the brand,” says Cardelli. The birth of Giuliva Heritage entwines so intricately with their own romance that both origin stories happened simultaneously. The pair were introduced in 2016 by a mutual friend at Cavaliere’s made-to-measure men’s-wear shop, Sartoria Giuliva, in Rome. At the time, Cardelli was working as a luxury-fashion consultant. The two began dating, and, shortly thereafter, Cardelli, who had already purloined several items from Cavaliere’s own closet for herself, requested a suit of her own.
In early 2017, the pair debuted Giuliva Heritage with a handful of women’s coats. Subsequent collections expanded into double-breasted pin-striped suits in sumptuous wools and cashmeres, linen shirtdresses, windowpane-plaid raincoats, and perfectly pleated, Hepburn-esque trousers. Just this month, the label launched its first men’s-wear collection, which will arrive in stores in June. While many pieces are hand-finished, most of the label’s trousers and shirts are entirely handmade. “Meaning, no machines involved,” Cardelli said, underscoring the subtle difference between garments made by a human with a sewing machine, and one made by hand alone. “We’re trying to do things responsibly.”
Laura Neilson is a writer based in New York