Pelerine Founder Allison Pezzuti on her inspirations and finding happiness in new pursuits.
Photography: Owen Collective | Models: Kloie and Tatum
What is it about creatives? They possess that certain je ne sais quoi that piques your curiosity and draws you to them like a moth to a flame. That’s what I thought when I first met Allison Pezzuti, anyway. Timeless, effortlessly chic, and a true businesswoman aura if I have ever seen one, she sat primmed and proper – ready to take on any issue that came her way.
Hailing from a small town in Michigan – Bloomfield, to be exact – there wasn’t much in the way of haute couture and design – that is, unless you count her mothers’ friends. Those fashionable, almost ethereal women, who would subconsciously play a part in the blossoming artist she was to become.
Think back, way back to your childhood. Who here remembers their mother’s clique? The women that were more like “Auntie” instead of Mrs. Jones. For Pezzuti, her mother had the most fashionable gal pals alive, and they would be the first real influence on this young creative’s life.
“They were iconic,” Pezzuti sighs. “They were always dressed beautifully and had an immensely powerful presence. To me, they were larger than life.”
This abundance of glam would nurture her inner fashionista, and she began covering her bedroom walls with Vogue and Elle Girl, surrounding herself with the fashion titans of the beauty world.
Throughout school, Pezzuti was a mix of a fun loving outdoors-woman and the ever-studious entrepreneur that she remains. She first fell in love with designers Karl Lagerfeld, Donna Karan, and Calvin Kline.
I can see it. Her simple yet bold look at our meeting reflected her choices of fashion. She was daring yet feminine, risky yet conservative. This beautiful symmetry would translate over to her own designs in her future. But for now, they were simply love affairs with great design.
If you investigate Pezzuti’s adolescent youth, you can see the arrival of her creative prowess. In 1992, she went to Mexico, where she was utterly moved by the Mexican culture, both visually and creatively.
“I was obsessed with Frida Kahlo; I went to her house and the color and her creativity was inspiring.” The vibrance, atmosphere, and sense of family inspired her to look beyond the canvas and into the meaning of a design or pattern. “I carry this with me, and one of my current Pelerine designs was inspired by an over 100-year-old embroidery design I called Rosie.”
When she was on her journey, she also came across an Indigo blue charcoal drawing. “It was bright blue with birds on it,” she quipped. “It was the inspiration to one of my pieces that I created with Pelerine, and I named it Indigo. The colors from the charcoal drawing were so vivid and true, I wanted to bring that feeling to my work.”
The next stop on her creative journey was to Italy in 1993, where she spent a semester falling irrevocably in love with Florence. This, this was where the real love affair with style took place.
Let’s face it. Besides France, this isn’t the shabbiest place to nurture your inner fashionista. Pezzuti was mesmerized by the effortless style, unmatched food, and attitude of Italy.
The colors and devastating attention to detail captured her imagination and she began daydreaming about a future that housed her own fashion line. Could it be? Would it be? Only time would tell – a little bit of fate.
In 1995 she graduated Denison University in Ohio where she double majored in Spanish and Economics – she was transfixed with International Business and could see nothing in her future but the shimmering towers of New York City where she knew in her bones she would flourish. And go to New York she did, in 1996 with a dream and determination. It was here she would make a footprint where giants roamed.
“Had I known myself better, I would have gone into the creative side of the business there, but I ended up going into account management – I hated it.” The slow drumming of a repetitive career without any real creative freedom led her to search for something new. I considered going back to school for an Architecture and Interior design degree, but naively at that age I thought it would take forever.” Thus, her creative entrepreneurship would go on hold for another revolution.
In 1997, fate would step in. It was time for this creative to bloom. By happenstance, Pezzuti met someone that ran Hospice of Michigan, a local charity, and they happened to be in need of an event planner.
“It sounded creative and fun, and it was a great experience. I largely worked on my own and was able to create within my vision.” Also at that time, Delphi was posturing to buy General Motors and they needed a communications staff and that event planning job lured her in with the large budget and specular events. “I love bringing people together. I want my own project, but I don’t want to create on my own,” says Pezzuti.
Within this new job, she was able to take a once cookie cutter event with the tired Navy-blue invites and transformed it into as Pezzuti says, “An Andy Warhol experience. I was always thinking of how to make events fun and make people comfortable but always in suspense. It was my mission to bring them an experience.”
But the fairytale would not last. The company in which she had grown a love for would pivot to move her to Internal Communication. “It did not sound like much fun because I would be sitting in-front of a desk writing all day. I need to be in it and create, and this wasn’t it, unfortunately.”
So, with prospects open and an eye on the future, Pezzuti began once again searching for the missing piece to her creative puzzle. Fate, as it seems, would step in once again and present her with a life altering moment. Enter – her husband.
My parents had moved to Naples and I was adamant I needed to visit. To clear my head and find my focus. As luck would have it, both Pezzuti and her husband’s parents lived in Naples.
“We happened to be visiting our parents on the same weekend. I was out with my parents having dinner and we were just leaving when he walked in with his parents,” she smiled. The set weren’t close by any means, but certainly acquaintances, so naturally, greetings were exchanged. Apparently, her future beau was taken with our young fashionista and he called her parents’ house that nigh to ask her on a date.
As it happened, Pezzuti was catching a plane the next day and had to reluctantly tell her mystery love that she wouldn’t be back until Easter. “He said to me, “I will see you at Easter” and we would go on a few dates when we reunited, and it was love.” Anyone else catching serious Disney vibes here or is it just me?
They were married in 2005, and Pezzuti and her husband Frank, set up shop in West Chester, New Jersey, where she would begin to work for Villeroy and Boch, a tabletop fine china and dinner wear provider.
“This was a little obsession of mine, so this was perfect for me,” says Pezzuti. Over the next couple of years, she would work in sales, setting up these wild displays for buyers to see and purchase product.” Pezzuti is a lover of quaint and timeless design and savored her time in West Chester where she would visit small towns and relish in the designs and delicacies of yester-year.
In 2007, Pezzuti became pregnant with her first child. “I was working freelance when I had my son, but I still worked with familiar faces in the industry, so I was hired for little design jobs here and there, but something was missing,” said Pezzuti.
Then, 2009 hit, and we knew we needed a transition, but we weren’t sure where we were going to start again.” During the Winter of 2009, she called her parents and went to visit, but ended up staying in their guesthouse permanently, or at least until her husband moved down as well – craving a new backdrop to the production that was their life. Naples was looking good, and Naples would become the epicenter for her entrepreneurial journey.
They relocated to Naples permanently in 2009 and never looked back. She became pregnant with her child, a beautiful baby girl, within a year and a half of her move, and indeed – Florida was suiting this family.
But for Pezzuti, there was still a nagging itch she needed to scratch. Even though her life was full of love, her inner creative was still yearning to be set free. So, what does a hungry artist do? Well, buy a franchise of course!
“A friend of mine from Denison had started The Scout Guide in Charlotte, North Carolina. She started posting photos of the photo shoots and the completed product and it was beautiful. At the time, there was nothing like it. I called her up and to tell her congratulations, and she mentioned they were going to franchise and start one in Naples as well. It took one weekend of thinking and I was in. It was different – so I took on Naples,” Pezzuti sat back confidently.
She would go on to create The Scout Guide for eight years and catapult the mini publication to a resounding success. She realized during this period that she wanted to create something of her own. “I wanted my own brand, and this creative path allowed me to see just how much I wanted my own “thing.” I just didn’t know how it would manifest.”
Pezzuti threw herself into The Scout Guide, relishing in the fast pace and seemingly unattainable deadlines that she always crushed. She was on book number nine when COVID hit. An unwelcome, but necessary pause in her life that was pedal to the metal everyday all day.
This would force her to really observe her mindset. She had already been thinking she wanted someone to take over as it was. The answer was no, she needed something all her own. Finally the scene was set, and Pelerine – her own brand – was born.
The ideas of Kimonos came into her head because she loved the idea of putting something on and feeling special and ready to go out without a lot of effort. She wanted to share that effortless style with the masses, and thus Pelerine was born.
“I would say that for maybe the past couple of years I have struggled in what to wear. All the things that I used to wear didn’t make me feel good anymore. I wanted something that made me feel special when I went out, something versatile and fun. The Kimono filled that void for me. What am I going to wear and feel fabulous in?” she giggled.
Pelerine, a French word for cape, was the name she decided to bestow upon her brand. Focused on bringing colors and culture to the forefront, she began weaving stories into her designs that would capture clients and compel them to add the statement piece to their wardrobes.
This was especially important to Pezzuti. She directs and styles photoshoots focusing on presenting her brand in a tangible and relatable way to her clients, bringing beauty and purpose together in a most gorgeous way.
During the launch, vibrant pictures splashed across social media platforms showing the billowy movement of the sleeves against stunning models who invoked the entire vision of what the garment stood for – confidence and self-appreciation.
Today, Pezzuti has her gaze fixed to the future, contemplating the launch of bags, lifestyle, and home décor to add to her growing empire. “I’m at a point in my life where I am not doing it just to do it. It has to mean something, and this is the most fun I’ve ever had doing anything.”
With tenacity and a knack for creative innovation, Pezzuti is on a trajectory to not only fulfill her destiny, but to have a great time making her dreams come true.