Paola Incisa di Camerana
Fashion arbiter Paola Incisa di Camerana shares ingredients for timeless style, sweet hearts included
Posted on August 5, 2019
When we think of fashion stars, our minds often turn first to designers, models striding the runway, or the photographers who capture them. Behind the scenes in her breezy art-filled home, Paola Incisa di Camerana is creating a different picture. Increasingly, she is becoming part of the galaxy of people who make fashion a viable pillar far from the eye of social media. Especially in San Diego.
A boutiquey clubhouse for trunk shows was never the intention. Yet, her Cardiff-by-the-Sea manse, with its indoor-outdoor floor plan, has accidentally become a showcase for brands both verging and established, with Paola as the effortless dot-connector. A distinctly modern spirit and nuanced old-school extravagance define the setting.
“My idea of hostessing is to tell a story,” says Paola, who lives with husband Chad DiNenna, Nixon co-founder, and their two children. “And I celebrate my friends by bringing them together.”
Those friends include Lindsy Richards, the San Diego-based founder of Flora Aura Designs, a collection of adornments for wearable florals; Paola’s sister Cristina Incisa di Camerana, a partner in CVC Stones, the NYC-based jewelry line which made an early debut on her veranda; and Lisette Polny, founder of Zofia Day, a North County-based jewelry line, which sparkled here before Meghan Markle catapulted the brand into royal headlines.
Fluent in five languages, Paola is the daughter of an Italian diplomat and South American matriarch. This dynamic has instilled a timeless aesthetic in her four daughters, each of whom maintain the family title and a foothold in the fashion world. Paola’s nod to tradition — vintage China, table linens, silver — seems a radical gesture, especially in San Diego, but it threads a narrative for the guest list for whom accumulation isn’t a style prerequisite.
Inside the Mediterranean retreat, it’s a study in sunny and worldly sophistication. An abundance of flowers from Vista-based Wayward Daisy (who has been the star of her own trunk show here) mixes alongside art from San Diego’s own Kelsey Brookes and fellow art world darling Sage Vaughn. One of the pieces from Vaughn’s moth series, exhibited at MOCA, hangs on the dining room wall opposite her children’s framed artwork. If stores encourage us to buy recklessly, here the approach is warm with conversation free-flowing from kitchen to outdoor living room, guests mingling over locally pressed juice and scones from her daughter Chloe’s recipe.
“It’s about creating a deeper connection with the brands and each other,” says Paola, who mastered the art of trunk shows a decade ago while charged with the stateside launch of Brazilian swimwear brand Salinas.
The small-is-beautiful concept is not new, but it’s one that is powerfully more embraced in a fashion world where runway-to-closet no longer applies. This past winter, Phillip Lim hosted an intimate rosé brunch at Paola’s home for his Spring Collection. The collection, which has a season-less and uniformed approach, fits neatly with her wardrobe philosophy.
Next up? The idea of buying less is the drive behind her eponymous jewelry line launching with the Dolce Amore ring. The 14k gold ring (from $1,200, available exclusively at Tucci boutiques and at tucciboutique.com) features a dangling heart charm with room for custom engraving, while the band can be set with diamonds or gemstones. A modern take on the traditional signet ring, it is designed to be worn daily.
“There’s so much meaning in the simplicity of it,” says Paola. “It’s the essence of la dolce vita.” Gillian Flynn
Portrait, mango tart, florals, rings: Photography by Becca Batista Phillip Lim: courtesy photo