Couture Carpentry: Flesswood

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By Chiara Spagnoli Gabardi

There can be no better endorsement for a product than its use by a major couture fashion house, and it was on the FW13/14 Dolce & Gabbana runway that Flesswood first came to global attention.

The inlaid travelling cases, platform shoes and handbags that Dolce & Gabbana fashioned out of the material have conquered the pages of all the top magazines such as Vogue and Elle, and of course, Eluxe as well.

But what exactly is Flesswood?

This is a product of Filbo Snc, distributed by Rock Wood Fashion, that came to life at the beginning of the 1900s in Italy. Today, the company is a leader in the production of refined natural woods, due to its long artisanal tradition and insistence of using raw materials of superior quality. Monica Nicolini, a descendant of the founder of the original century-old Filbo, launched Flesswood with her husband, Giuseppe Cappelletti and her brother, Alberto Nicolini.Dolce-and-Gabbana-FW-2014-mosaic-women-collection-the-shoes-wooden-platforms

Originally the company was focused on making frames and guitars until Monica decided to explore the fashion industry: “we gave it a go when I came up with the idea of inventing wooden-skin. We’ve succeeded in creating this material by making flexible wood that can actually be used as a type of skin. The license of this unique product was registered at the Italian Chamber of Commerce in my name and then we took off, launching Flesswood both in fashion and in interior design,” says the innovative businesswoman.

The selection of wood is seasoned in Flesswood’s warehouses for 10, 40 and up to 60 years. All products are made by qualified Italian artisans.  It took years of research to examine in depth the best way for the technicians to flex the wood and adapt it for uncustomary uses, tracing new paths in this field.


Flesswood is flexible, sewable, and washable like any kind of skin and is made of 100% natural and exotic wood. This 100% organic wood comes from sustainable forests, and is certified as FSC. Flesswood is also approved by the Italian national consortium, Vero Legno Spa (  ), which distinguishes products made with solid wood from imitations and forgeries.

Thanks to the use of organic substances, without any hazardous chemicals or metals such as chrome, aluminium, titanium and zirconium, the treatments used to make the wood flexible can truly be considered eco-friendly, especially when they are used to replace leather.


In some cases, Flesswood is combined with leather, but Monica insists that eco-leather is used primarily. The Ausonia leathers selected by Flesswood are in complete respect of the laws governing work, quality and the environment, once again certified by the most important international standards. Over the years, Ausonia has invested heavily in innovative production processes and environmental protection. Since its founding in 1946, the Ausonia tannery has produced vegetable tanned leather for bags, luggage, belts, leather accessories and furnishings. No wonder Flesswood picked them to coalesce their flexible creations with some touches of eco-leather.


On December 10th last year, a new Flesswood project was presented at the prestigious Milan Triennale Design Museum: a pochette with a silk cap and matching belt and bracelet, with the wood essences inlaid by hand. This exhibit   will be on display until the 2nd of February 2014.

Flesswood’s next goal is to replace exotic leathers such as crocodile and lizard with 100% ecological ‘leathers’ made from exotic woods.  Good riddance to the un-eco, and a big welcome to Flesswood’s sustainably sourced ideas!

Chiara Spagnoli Gabardi
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