ITALIAN newlyweds Matilde Carpagnano and Roberto Balsamo fell in love with Fremantle when they honeymooned in the port city many years ago.
“Fremantle reminds me of the area we were born, with community all around,” Roberto says.
“Everybody knows who everybody is.”
But a lot of water flowed under the bridge before the couple, then living in Rome, finally realised their dream of immigrating to Fremantle.
Shortly after arriving, they noticed a dearth of Italian artisan craft fashion, and opened Creato A Mano on Marine Terrace in 2013.
The name means “created by hand”, and the boutique has a range of clothing, leather bags and hats designed by Matilde and Roberto and hand-crafted in Italy.
The shop is also the WA agent for Birkenstock shoes, and there’s a range of knitted bags and hats made by Matilde.
Tourism had been her original career of choice, until she turned 20 and scored a job with fashion guru Laura Biagiotti.
Starting off as parade assistant, Matilde’s natural fashion sense became apparent, and she soon scaled the career ladder.
It wasn’t long before she was fully immersed in Italy’s high-end fashion industry, doing a multitude of roles, including researching and choosing fabrics, designing, overviewing production, coordinating fashions shows, and sales.
And for more than 26 years, Matilde attended countless couture fashion fairs and shows in Florence and Milan.
Freo is now home, but twice a year she heads back to her old stomping ground.
“To talk about style and fabric: I try to choose classic European style, classic but new,” Matilde says.
Natural materials are also a passion and you’ll find soya and bamboo fabrics, along with silk on the racks.
Meanwhile, Roberto is a sculptor when he’s not working at Creato A Mano, collaborating on the fishermen sculptures at Fishing Boat Harbour and was the model for one of the “modern” figures.
He has clearly inherited the creative gene from his father Vincenzo Balsamo, a renowned Italian artist.
Matilde and Roberto predict a bright future for Fremantle.
“We are in a really lucky place here in Fremantle.
“If we work together and work hard then the happy, beautiful community we all call home will continue to grow.”
by JENNY D’ANGER
Creato A Mano
38B Marine Terrace,