Luisa Spagnoli – The Story of the Woman who Invented “Perugina Kiss” and who left a sign in the Fashion Industry of Italy

The story of Luisa Spagnoli is charming and unique, and there are numerous episodes in her life that influenced the world of industry and fashion, in Italy and in thw world.

Here is the biography of Luisa Spagnoli, regarding  the life of the woman who invented the famous “ Bacio Perugina” and the famous fashion brand Luisa Spagnoli.

Just like the plot of a fiction or a film, the true story of Luisa Spagnoli is full of brilliant insights that have made the history of the economy of Italy.

But what do you really know about her personal life ?

Luisa was born in Perugia in 1877.

In 1907 the story of Luisa Spagnoli reaches a turning point: in fact this year the woman manages to close an agreement with the industrialists Buitoni and opens a small company, with about fifteen employees, in the historic center of the city of Perugia . This is how Perugina was born, destined to become one of the most flourishing companies on the Italian market.

With the outbreak of World War I, only Spagnoli was left to carry on the business with her two sons Mario and Aldo. After the war, Perugina factory grew to more than one hundred employees.

Therefore, La Perugina is managed by Luisa and her children, Aldo and Mario, and in a short time it becomes a lively reality with more than a hundred employees in its entirety, despite the fact that the First World War slowed consumption considerably.

In 1923 Annibale and Luisa separated, and the woman began a relationship with Giovanni Buitoni, son of Francesco Buitoni. There is a lot of passion between the two, despite the considerable age difference (Luisa is 14 years older). It was in this period that Luisa Spagnoli invented the “Bacio“, the famous chocolate with whole hazelnuts, which later became the “Perugina Kiss”. This is how she invented the famous “Bacio Perugina” or “Perugina kiss”, one of the well know italian chocholates with nuts and love poems inside.

Luisa, who joined the Perugina board of directors, also undertook the construction of social structures aimed to improve the lives of employees, starting from the nursery school .

 At the end of the First World War, Luisa Spagnoli embarked on a new venture: the breeding of poultry and angora rabbits, lovingly combed to obtain the angora wool for the yarns.

In 1928, Spagnoli was the first person to introduce angora yarn for knitwear with the trademark l’Angora Spagnoli, including shawls, boleros, and fashionable garments.

Thus the Angora Spagnoli was born in the suburb of Santa Lucia for the creations of shawls, boleros and fashionable clothing.

However, the entrepreneur was unable to see the real take-off of the company: she was in fact diagnosed with throat cancer. Giovanni Buitoni took her to Paris to guarantee her the best care and remained with her until her death in 1935 at the age of 58. Luisa Spagnoli rests in the family crypt of the monumental cemetery of Perugia.

After Spagnoli’s death, her son Mario (1900–1977) transitioned his mother’s company from fine crafts to a more industrialized focus in 1937. He was credited with the invention of two objects, patented in 1942: a comb for collection of wool, and a clamp for tattooing angora rabbits.

In 1947, Mario Spagnoli built the City dell’angora factory, built at the center of a growing community. In the 1960s, he also founded the playground of the Città della Domenica originally called Spagnolia, that remains a destination for visitors to this day.

Under the leadership of Mario’s son Hannibal (1927–1986), entrepreneur and president of Perugia Calcio, production diversified and the family created the network of Luisa Spagnoli shops; there are now more than 100 shops throughout the world, with the headquarters still based in Perugia.

Now the company is in the hands of Nicoletta Spagnoli, president, managing director and creative guide of the company based in Perugia.

Successfull entrepreneur, manager and designer, Nicoletta represented the fourth generation of a pioneer family of Italian entrepreneurship.

At the age of  63 she seems to have lived at least two lives.

“I graduated in Pharmacy in Perugia”, she says.

“Before I started working in the family business, I did research in pharmaceutical  chemistry field, and I moved to the United States to follow the specialization courses. But destiny had other plans for me, and in 1983 I was called by my father to work in the style office “.

And this story is well known.

Therefore Nicoletta renounces the doctorate that was offered to her in the United States to enter Luisa Spagnoli “as a simple designer, stamping the tag , like all employees”.

“On the other hand,” she observes, “drawing has always been my greatest real deep passion, something that I have breathed since I was a child: when my father gave me permission, in the afternoon I went to the company, where the stylists taught me the techniques of this job, and I had fun making some sketches … while one day finally I saw one of my drawings , in the fashion show , with great surprise “.

When her father Lino suddenly dies, it is up to her, just thirty years old, to take all the resposabilities of the company. “Until that moment, I was part of the stylistic creation team, making the apprenticeship,” she explains.

“Suddenly, finding myself to manage all the company functions, has developed a very demanding challenge, to which I am always attentive: making every decision imagining that I would have done what my father also adopted, following the example of the three generations of entrepreneurs before me. “

Rome is a very warm city, it reminds me of the period of “Dolce Vita”, during which several famous actresses, who gravitated to the capital,  learned to know and appreciate our leaders”, explains Spagnoli all’Adnkronos.

“There were many characters who visited us and whom we had as clients, such as Esther Williams, Anna Magnani, the twins Kessler and Kirk Douglas.”

 It is a great honor that the future queen Kate Middleton loves to wear Luisa Spagnoli creations, including the famous red tailleur, that was required all over the world.

“The boutique they loved to visit was in Via Vittorio Veneto 130, which my grandfather Mario opened in the 1940s, after the one in Perugia, in Corso Vannucci”, recalls the entrepreneur, “one of the first ever shops of Luisa Spagnoli, and it is still part of our chain with pride “.

Author: Maria Zota 

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Luisa Spagnoli – The Story of the Woman who Invented “Perugina Kiss” and who left a sign in the Fashion Industry of Italy by Maria Zota

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