Florence, Italy: Filistrucchi, Family Owned Since 1720
Producing wigs & masks since 1720
A family tradition
The year 2020 will mark the three hundred year anniversary that the Filistrucchi family has been catering to the needs of both Florentines and foreigners. Established in 1720, the shop created powdered wigs for male and female members of the nobility and those who could afford to be fashionable. They also provided wigs and costumes for the city's two main theaters: Pergola and Niccolini.
Since then, theaters in Florence and abroad have relied on the Filistrucchi expertise and reputation, including the famous Le Fenice of Venice and the Metropolitan Opera in New York.
Masks were also popular in the 18th century, since they provided the wearer with anonymity. How else could ladies and gentlemen engage in secret rendezvous throughout the city? The traditional "bauta" consisted of a dark mantle with a white mask called "larva." The shop currently stocks the male version, which is designed to allow the wearer to eat and drink.
Leather masks for carnival & theater
Filistrucchi and the Commune di Firenze
The Filistrucchi family has employed their expertise with makeup and special effects to recreate illnesses and medical situations used to aid those in the health profession. This has enabled students to understand certain conditions on a visual level in order to be able to identify them on actual humans.
The workshop possess a significant historical archive consisting of letters from famous movie directors, singers, actors, fashion designers, sketches, photographs and more. This contribution to the city's art historical canon is extremely valuable, since it recounts the history of the establishment and the city in which it existed. In many instances, the family witnessed recorded historical events with their own eyes.
The flood of 1966
Given that the author of this article writes historical novels featuring female protagonists set in patriarchal situations, one of the questions asked during the interview was: "Were there women working behind the scenes in the 18th century?"
Gherardo explained that, unfortunately, the flood of 1966 wiped out many historical texts from Florence. Their workshop suffered the same fate. He did confirm that after his great grandfather died in WWI, his great grandmother took over the Filistrucchi business for a period of time.
In response to the question regarding famous historical figures frequenting the shop in the 18th century, he confirmed that Cosimo de Medici III had indeed been a patron. One must keep in mind that wigs were the norm in those days, and there were many wig shops in Florence (and in other cities).
Wig makers were also barbers. So they provided gentlemen with a close shave as well as a trendy wig.
Finally, when asked if the modern word for makeup ("trucchi") comes from his surname, Gherardo chuckled and shrugged. "I don't know." It wasn't the first time he had been asked this question. As of yet, there is no documentation.
Filistrucchi offers restoration. Recently, they restored a ceremonial elmo helmet from the 19th century. An entire horse tail was used for this magnificent male headdress.
During the interview, the author received a tour of the workshop. An artisan in the back room was busily restoring an antique doll, creating a wig for its tiny head.
Projects are accepted on individual basis. If one needs to have something restored, contact them via their website: filistrucchi.com and provide photos along with a detailed description.
Restoring an antique doll
20th century products
Handcrafted human hair wigs are still being produced in-house. They can be custom made for every day wear, or for theater, film, fashion shows, etc. Natural hair is also used in the creation of mustaches, beards, sideburns, fringes, eyelashes, eyebrows, extensions and more.
Yak hair is utilized in theater wigs, especially "Marie Antoinette" style 18th century creations.
Prosthetic pieces are available in latex, liquid, foam, and silicone: noses, ears, bald caps, horns. These can be customized according to size and need.
Finally, for those seeking vampire teeth and colored contact lenses, Filistrucchi carries a limited selection.
The historic workshop is located on Via Giuseppe Verdi, 9 only steps from the beautiful basilica di Santa Croce. For more information, please visit: www.filistrucchi.com
Thank you for reading.
C. De Melo