THE DEAN OF ITALIAN HIGH FASHION MEN’S WEAR
We went to interview him in his atelier (studio) in Piazza Colonna in Rome to learn more about his work and his opinion on fashion today. On first entrance into the atelier, one cannot avoid noticing the many photos, including many celebrities.
When did you begin working?
I come from a family which has worked in this field for generations. From my earliest days, I remember hearing stories of the essential components of fashion: fabrics, models, style and clients.
Is there a specific moment that you began working?
As soon as I finished high school, more or less at the end of the war, I noticed that strange characters were offering us Italian made merchandise but labeling it as made abroad. I was intriqued and decided to design a collection and present it to the foreign market. I had begun a type of venture which at the time did not exist but has since become an international business.
My business relations with Italian manufacturers allowed me to become a style consultant, which still today is at the core of my work. I design collections for men and women’s wear, for a total look, for some of the most prestigious companies in the field which then, based on licensing agreements, manufacture and distribute the various articles under my label in the USA, Japan, Britain, France and even in China.
There is a particular incident in my past which regards me personally but also Italian fashion in general. In 1970, I met Fred Pressman, owner of the most famous men’s wear shop in the world, Barney’s of New York. At the time, 5 floors of the building were dedicated to retail sales and 5 floors were used for alterations and adjustments. We got along famously on our first encounter.
Our mutual respect and affection lasted until his dying day and our exceptional business relationship with Barneys continues still today. I introduced all the Italian designers to Mr. Pressman who fell in love with Italy and demonstrated it by opening corners for them in his new downtown store, for which I helped him design the layout. Subsequently, Barney’s moved to Madison Avenue.
This is another story.
When the war was over, the film industry moved to Rome and, given my passion for cinema, my great love affair with theater and cinema was inevitable. I have worked with all of the great directors and with the best Italian, and foreign, stage and film actors. If I were to draw up a list of their names, it would fill up a newspaper...
Among the countries you cited, there are none from the Far East.
During the years, some illustrious clients came to me privately but not with proposals that I thought I could work with. For the record, I have to say that of all of my work with the theater, I feel honored to have made the costumes for the cast of Carlo Titto’s commedia italiana performed at Moscow’s Satryicon Theater.
And what about China?
The Chinese government invited me to conduct a study of industrial fabric production and the manufacture of clothing. As often happens when one encounters others with shared interests and knowledge, friendship and collaboration result. The end result was that I helped create an extremely modern men’s wear clothing production in Beijing and the friendly rapport created continues to this day.