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The Exquisite Taste Of Non-Conventionality

Fantasy and transgression are what guide Ms. Zalla’s inspiration for her intriguing window designs in her boutique in Cortina d’Ampezzo.


If you know the theatrical scenes in the windows of stores like New York’s Bergdorf Goodman you will instantly recognize the spirit of Cortina d’Ampezzo’s luxury boutique Le Noir: non-conventionality. The woman behind this philosophy is owner Carla Zalla who we met to take a look over her shoulders as she captures the magic of Cortina d’Ampezzo layer after layer in her shop’s windows.

As you walk on Corso Italia and take a left up the stairs at the main square, you are immediately drawn to the elegant dreamy shop windows of boutique Le Noir. The exquisitely dressed mannequins are acting out a fantasy scene that could very well be happening in one of the magnificent private mansions you find dotted around in Cortina d’Ampezzo. 
“People don’t come here to dress and show but to be who they are. That makes the DNA of this place,” reflects Ms. Zalla, the poised gracious owner of Le Noir, on the mood of Cortina lifestyle. Her window designs underline this in a very subtle way. For her, “feeling good is about the soul and not about the price tag.” 
With this attitude, Ms. Zalla certainly adds a lot of her personal touch to the store filled with international luxury labels. And a little bit of irony because “fashion is not made to take yourself too seriously.”

Shelter from the stresses of the world

“When you arrive in Cortina, you feel a moment of release, of letting go of the life you just came from,” Ms. Zalla explains calmly, resembling every word she just said. To dress according to this sentiment comes naturally. For her the mountains provide a feeling of security, and Cortina is like a shelter from the stresses of the world. 
“You know, I am like an eagle,” she says, “an eagle who loves to roam around free but always within the proximity of reality. ”One can feel the spirit she lives by. And so it comes as no surprise that she prefers Cortina to any bustling metropolis because it still keeps that international flair she likes so much. 
That’s why Ms. Zalla was originally drawn to the magic of the place, impressed by the lively, well-dressed crowd on her first visit here. Coming from a family in the fashion business and already owning a store in Treviso, she decided to open Le Noir in 1999 when she saw that there was no store in Cortina that catered to the kind of need that might arise in a place like this.

Especially on weekends or around Christmas time when Cortina gets busy with dinner parties, clients frequent her place to say hello and ask for her opinion. A Lanvin dress just sits that much better with Carla Zalla’s final approval. “There are even casual business meetings happening here between husbands when their ladies shop,” Ms. Zalla laughs. In her eyes, a certain nostalgia and the fast paced high-end fashion find a perfect meeting point in Cortina as “new things cannot exist without the connection to the old."

But Le Noir is more than just a boutique. In tune with the beat of Cortina’s social life she loves to host events with fashion bloggers, artists or to celebrate the launch of a new collection, all of which you can follow on her social media channels. Ms. Zalla wants her place to be a space that fosters a creative community. A little bit of irony and transgression included, of course.

Text: Sandra Pfeifer
Photos: Ian Ehm //

Nov. 24, 2016

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