Tuesday, April 25, 2006
Sailing into shopper's paradise
Every once in a while I have to pinch myself to remind myself that yes, I am indeed on assignment and working. This month, I have had to do just that.

See, my usual workday consists of me waking up at 2 a.m. every day to make it into work at 3 a.m. so that I can prepare for CNN Today, which goes to air Monday to Friday at 5 a.m. BST.

Well, when on assignment for Art of Life, those hours are usually not an issue and nor is the normal stress of anchoring a three-hour live news program.

This time around though, not only did I work "normal" hours, the conditions (for the most part) were, in one word, beautiful.

This month, my producer Andrea, our cameraman Darren and I made our way to the Italian coastal town of Cattolica to meet up with designer Alberta Ferretti.

The first leg of our trip was a relatively easy one except for the 5 a.m. wake-up call -- although for me that was a lie-in -- and the pouring rain as we landed in Ancona.

After a two-hour drive from the airport to Cattolica, I checked into my hotel room to dry out.

Our hotel, owned by Alberta Ferretti, was right on the beach. I open up the curtains and there in all its blue (OK, rain-induced gray-ish) glory was the Adriatic Sea.

Andrea and Darren were off shooting another element for the show. We eventually regrouped and, after a 16-hour day, fell asleep to the pounding of the surf outside.

Built in a small bay, the town of Cattolica is, for the most part, a sleepy beach resort. Except of course in the summer when Italians flock here to enjoy the stunning views and weather that this north-eastern town has to offer.

This is where we find Alberta Ferretti and her factory, where labels such as Alberta Ferretti, Philosophy di Alberta Ferretti, Jean Paul Gaultier, Narciso Rodriguez and Moschino are produced and distributed. They are all labels under Ferretti's company Aeffe Fashion Group.

The woman herself is a petite, charming blonde who graciously opened up her home away from home to allow us to see its inner-workings.

We find her in her airy, sun-soaked studio (the rain stopped overnight, thankfully!) working with a team of designers on the 2007 spring/summer collection.

She was quite nervous, not because of the camera but because she felt her command of the English language wasn't so strong. Not so. Her ability to express herself became more animated and passionate when we spoke about her love of the female form and how sensuality, femininity and modernity were what made her designs distinctive.

Right after filming in the factory, we made our way to Genoa for the main part of our story and from where we would host this month's show.

This is where we find Ferretti's 135-foot (41-meter) icebreaker, formerly used by the Russian Navy. Gone is the military ship. In its place is this beautifully decorated boat that is Ferretti's home on the water.

With six state rooms, a dining room, a gym, living room and outdoor dining space, this boat is an all-encompassing habitat that would make those Russian sailors very happy to endure the harsh weather out in the North Sea if their living conditions were like this.

Ferretti told me she finds inspiration when she's on her boat but more importantly, this is a place for her to be herself, away from the prying eyes of the public and away from the pressures of everyday life. This is where she can enjoy her life with her close friends and family, eating the finest seafood prepared by her extremely talented young chef.

We had a taste of that life for two days as we sailed along the Italian coast. Looking out into the open water, toward the pastel-colored coastal towns, Ferretti and I spoke of the one strong influence in her life: her mother.

A seamstress in Cattolica, Ferretti grew up with the image of her mother draping fabric over a model and with a few artfully placed pins turning it into a work of wearable art. It is that same image we see in Alberta as she worked on a model back in her studio in Cattolica.

The shoot was a glorious one (aside from the occasional bout of seasickness that all three of us on the crew suffered). When else are we given the opportunity to enjoy the sun, have full command of a boat and its captain who turned the boat in whichever direction to please Darren so that we got the best light from the sun for our filming, and eat amazing food all the while feeling at ease on a renowned designer's boat? I guess that's what they call the "art of life!"

But the piece de resistance was the access we got to Alberta Ferretti's factory. And by factory, I mean the clothes.

Art of Life's producer Andrea is a beautifully stylish woman whose eye for design is impeccable. Now imagine this stylish woman with VIP access to a room filled with pre-season clothing just off the production line.

As Darren, our cameraman, succinctly put it, it was like a swarm of locusts eating its way through a field of fabrics. He included me in that analogy. All I can say in our defense is that it's not very often we get to shop like this!
Posted By Leetlegirl: Tuesday, April 25, 2006
How about the lifestyle of the uber poor and imfamous.
There's really much more to learn there,
we are not alone
Posted By Anonymous Pop Amsterdam netherlands : 11:16 AM, June 12, 2006
I like your writing ... keep writing. I will read all.
Posted By Anonymous Tashi, Davie, Florida : 8:30 PM, September 21, 2006
Monita, hi. I love the Art of Life show and I like you on the news as a reporter. I'm a big fan. You take care.
Posted By Anonymous richard in doha qatar : 9:46 AM, September 26, 2006
MONITA, look my internet site for the international luxury calendar 2006/2007 & international luxury guide .
Posted By Anonymous SIGRID, Gen�ve, Suisse : 3:30 PM, October 15, 2006
I like the art of your presenting on Art of Life.
I appreciate your passion for the arts because I am an artist painter.
Posted By Anonymous Aruna Kahaduwaarachchi, Colombo. : 5:35 AM, October 20, 2006
CNN Comment Policy: CNN encourages you to add a comment to this discussion. You may not post any unlawful, threatening, libelous, defamatory, obscene, pornographic or other material that would violate the law. Please note that CNN makes reasonable efforts to review all comments prior to posting and CNN may edit comments for clarity or to keep out questionable or off-topic material. All comments should be relevant to the post and remain respectful of other authors and commenters. By submitting your comment, you hereby give CNN the right, but not the obligation, to post, air, edit, exhibit, telecast, cablecast, webcast, re-use, publish, reproduce, use, license, print, distribute or otherwise use your comment(s) and accompanying personal identifying information via all forms of media now known or hereafter devised, worldwide, in perpetuity. CNN Privacy Statement.