By Tomboy KC | Photography by Danielle Sabol
We first met Allison Hoeltzel Savini at a lunch here in Dallas in celebration of her handbag line, Officina del Poggio. Before she even spoke, we were smitten with the South Texas native, effortlessly chic in her vintage print La DoubleJ swing dress. Our girl crush was cemented after we spent the afternoon chatting with the warm and modest talent behind some of the most lust worthy bags we’ve managed to get our hands on.
The handbag designer, who now lives in Bologna with her husband, started her career developing and managing product lines for international brands such as Stuart Weitzman and Alfred Dunhill. But it wasn’t until the Spring of 2014 that she founded her own Italian made accessories line, inspired by her fascination of saddlery, vintage cars/motorcycles, and classic utilitarian bags. With such a classic yet modern aesthetic, it’s hard to pick a favorite from the line, but the micro safari has quickly become our go-to daily bag. That said, we’ve got our eyes on one of her fabulous tassle bags and can’t wait for the launch of these oh-so-cool velvet belt bags next Fall.
TKC: We are obsessed with the entire ODP collection. How did the line come about?
AHS: Thank you so much! When I worked for other brands, we were constantly churning out new products and concepts, and I felt like each season was a race to create and market something completely new. Yet before the season even ended we were already head-first into the next big trend. Also as a consumer I felt that if I bought the it-bag one season, then it became “last-season’s bag” the next. So I wanted to create a product that was timeless and could be worn forever, without such a focus on trends. I partnered with one of my trusted factories and started creating a few styles. Then I started showing the bags and received orders, so at that point I had to keep going. I was still consulting full-time for other brands when I started, so it took me a little while to find the right balance and focus.
TKC: You’ve got quite the background in fashion. Why handbags?
AHS: I actually worked a lot with footwear at the beginning, and love the complexity of putting all the components together: the lasts, heels, soles, and making the fit just right. Handbags are slightly less complex, both in development and production, and especially with sales: you don’t have to worry stocking size runs. So from a business point-of-view, handbags were much more feasible. Although I definitely want to return to footwear at some point!
TKC: Do you have a favorite piece this season?
AHS: I have been wearing the Micro Safari every day. I carry a small card wallet, lipstick, and my keys in it. I love that I can just keep it on my body at all times.
TKC: Did you consider calling the collection anything else and/or how did you arrive at the name?
AHS: I wanted to use the name “Officina” because in Italian that means workshop, as in a mechanic’s workshop. The bags have an industrial vibe so I thought that it fit. Then I was driving home one day and noticed the name of my street: Via del Poggio. So I put both together and the name literally translates to “Workshop on the hill”. I loved the visual of the double “f”s and “g”s, and the abbreviation of “ODP”, and that was it! It is also perfect that it is a real name, after a very special place… the bags really do originate at my studio “al Poggio”, which is how my husband and I refer to our home in the hills near Bologna.
TKC: How would you describe your personal style?
AHS: Casual and classic, yet at times completely over-the-top and extravagant.
TKC: Day to day, what are you wearing? Do you have a work uniform of sorts?
AHS: I spend a lot of time in the factories and visiting suppliers, so I have to be comfortable. My uniform is a turtleneck sweater in the winter, or a cotton t-shirt or button-down in the summer, jeans or wide-leg trousers, menswear-style boots or loafers, and lots of layered necklaces or rings. And I often wear my cowboy boots…you can take the girl out of Texas, but never the Texas out of this girl!
TKC: Is there a particular designer or look that you tend to favor?
AHS: I am very classic but appreciate interesting cuts and beautiful fabrics. I recently discovered the line Dusan, with pieces that are both comfortable yet sophisticated, so I can wear them day-to-night. His attention to detail and fabrics are also exquisite, and I love that everything is Made-in-Italy.
TKC: On the flipside, are there any trends that you absolutely loathe?
AHS: Anything that doesn’t look comfortable. There is nothing worse than seeing someone who looks like they are suffering for fashion.
TKC: If you could only buy one item this Spring, what would it be?
AHS: The perfect trenchcoat, in a light ivory color.
TKC: What is one item that is safe to buy on a budget?
AHS: Cotton t-shirts. I love the ones from Uniqlo.
TKC: One worth splurging on?
AHS: Coats and jackets.
TKC: Name one beauty product you couldn’t live without.
AHS: Coconut oil. I use it to take off makeup, as a moisturizer and hair conditioner, and I even add a tablespoon into my coffee every day.
TKC: What is the last song you had playing on your iPod/iPhone?
AHS: “Have you ever seen the rain?”, Creedence Clearwater Revival
TKC: What’s your ringtone?
AHS: Funny enough… I always have my phone on silent so I just listen/feel for it to vibrate. I hate hearing phones ring. Yet it is a nightmare when I misplace my phone and it is somewhere can’t hear it vibrate.
TKC: Coffee or tea?
AHS: Coffee, of course! I live in Italy!
TKC: Mascara or Eyeliner?
TKC: Instagram or twitter?
TKC: In high school you would have been voted most likely to…
AHS: Do something completely crazy like move to Italy and start my own fashion line.