Written for Farewell Fiancé - July edition
I’m quite lucky that my work and my Italian heritage bring me back to Italy fairly often. Visiting friends and family over the years has allowed me to see some truly beautiful places all over Italy, but in recent years it’s the network that I have built through my business that allows me to find the best secrets that only the locals know about. Every trip always consists of way too much food, too many Aperol Spritz and an ever-increasing luggage allowance, but it’s all worth it.
Milan has become my favourite city in Italy. It’s stylish and fast paced, yet gritty and industrial. There are no beaches or pretty views but the city certainly makes up for itself, offering some of the best restaurants, bars, clubs and shopping. The Milanese are different from other Italians, they make working hard look good. Fashion and style isn’t trend based, it’s a way of life. When in Milan make sure to visit:
Possibly the most iconic menswear store in Milan, Lino Leluzzi and his team at Al Bazar have been servicing Milan’s most stylish men since the 1970s. Located in the chic quarter of Conciliazione in Milano, Al Bazar is known as the shop Tom Ford visits to find inspiration. Al Bazar carries an array of men’s business, evening and casual wear all made in Italy by local artisans. Lino, the man about town is the quintessential Italian gentleman and is often spotted at all of the major trade fairs and fashion shows. He’s just as famous as his boutique.
Lino has coined the term #7style with his range of wool and cotton jersey ties that have the number 7 embroidered in the center. An emblem for the discerning Milanese.
Located on Via Belfiore in Milano, the shoemaker of the same name has been making hand made shoes for decades. Via Belfiore is actually famous for housing some of Milan’s best and most famous cobblers but sadly today, there are only a few left. Belfiore Calzature has stood the rest of time and still produces some of the best classic footwear in Italy as well as some more contemporary styles. Belfiore is the go to when in Milan, and now that they have my size on file I can choose any style with any leather and they ship it to me in Australia. Now that is service!
In a place like Italy artisans are still celebrated however, many have simply died out with very few picking up the torch. At Womo (What Original Men Own) the past is celebrated. Womo is a one-stop destination for men’s styling and grooming needs. Their services include a barbershop, a retail store for skin care and grooming, a bespoke shirt maker and a shoe marker all under one roof.
There are a number of Womo stores opening up across Milan, but I like to go to their flagship in Porta Nuova. The area was redeveloped from an old industrial site which, is now home to some of Italy’s most exciting and modern architecture.
I love this store. No, I mean I really love this store. Clan Upstairs is probably the coolest shop in Milano. Located in Brera, the trendiest and most interesting suburb in all of Milan, CU is unassuming and very approachable. With a focus on men’s and women’s urban wear CU carry lots of Italian and European boutique labels that most Australian’s would have never heard of. The staff are especially friendly and fun. The store has recently been refurbished with the addition of an upstairs area allowing the team to expand their offering of artisan-made contemporary fashion.
If you visit Clan make sure you roam through the cobble stone alleys of Brera. It is the oldest quarter of Milan and has recently gone through some extensive upgrades and now houses some of Milan’s trendiest eateries and nightspots.
One of the most beautiful cities in the world and the home of the Renaissance, the centre of Italian culture. Firenze is also the home of the Italian artisan. Florentine tailoring and leather making is famous all over the world, so when in Florence it would be a cardinal sin to not indulge in such quality. When I’m in Florence, usually for the Pitti Uomo Trade Fair, I make sure I stop by the following masters of menswear for a good dose of inspiration.
Liverano & Liverano
Arguably one of the best and most widely respected bespoke tailors in the world, Liverano & Liverano are also one of the last remaining Florentine tailors that have remained true to the craft. In the 1940’s, the Liverano brothers (originally from Puglia), moved to Florence to take up the art of bespoke tailoring. Some 70 years later, their atelier is a museum to the craft and pays homage to days gone by.
Luigi and Antonio Liverano are the true masters having built a legacy which will live on well beyond their years. Visiting their atelier in Via dei Fossi is a pilgrimage for myself and many other bespoke aficionados. Their expertise and knowledge on garment construction and fit is expected but it’s their selection of cloth and accessories that is truly beautiful. The Liverano atelier houses an amazing selection of leather goods, silk ties and scarves.
A menswear store that has stood the test of time, Simone Righi supplies the gentleman of Firenze with a beautiful range of curated product across men’s fashion and accessories. Not an actual tailor, but definitely an expert on fit and quality Righi has an overt contemporary sense of style in a city famed for classicism. Influenced by art and the city itself Simone Righi showcase local designers as well as a selection of house pieces.
The Mannina artisan workshop was founded in the heart of the historic centre of Florence in 1953. Master shoemaker Calogero Mannina first began working out of craftsman’s workshop in Via de’ Barbadori between Ponte Vecchio and Palazzo Pitti, where he designed and fashioned his unique shoes by hand for the Florentine aristocracy. Today, Calogero’s son Antonio is at the helm and leads a small team of artisans in their Via Guicciardini atelier and showroom.
Known for their classic construction but fashionable styling, Mannina is possibly the most highly regarded shoemaker in Florence, producing some of the most beautiful footwear and leather goods in the city.
The inventor of the driving gloves, Madova have been in operation sine 1914 and remains possibly the last custom glove maker in all of Europe. Famous throughout Florence for the best gloves, locals and tourists flock to Modova’s for custom fittings and bespoke detailing. The range of gloves extends to men and women’s styles but it is the inimitable quality of leather that these experts source that make their gloves truly special.
The home of pizza, soft tailoring and Sophia Loren. Napoli is breathtakingly beautiful and rugged at the same time. The Neapolitan’s are unlike most other Italians. They are brash and assertive, yet passionate and warm. The way of life for the southern Italians is a stark contrast to that of the northerners. Down south people take a more relaxed approach to life and certainly make more time for the finer things than concern themselves with acquiring mounds of materials possessions. It’s definitely a ‘quality over quantity’ philosophy in Naples and this is evident in the way the locals dress. The soft construction bespoke suit was invented in Naples. It’s all about a beautiful relaxed fit, much like the way they live.
CHIAIA – Napoli
Naples has been famous for bespoke tailoring for more than a century, giving way to some of the greatest names that exist in the tailoring world. Rubinacci, Caruso, Kiton and Isaia are all local Neapolitan artisans that are now recognised around the world for their soft tailoring and high end appeal.
A new tailoring house, Chiaia – Napoli, founded by Gennaro Annunziata pays homage to the craft of the classic Neapolitan style but with a younger, fresh approach. If ever in Napoli make sure you visit this tailor, and ask for a lightweight summer sports jacket, complete with the ‘spalla camicia’ (shirt sleeve) or Neapolitan shoulder. The sleeve head is gathered as it is attached to the body and leaves a little ruffle and pucker, that is sheer sprezzatura.
The Talarico name has been synonymous with craftsmanship sine 1880. Originally the official umbrella and parasol maker to the King of Naples and his family, today the Talarico family maintains their tradition for beautifully made bespoke umbrellas.
Utilising high-end fabrications with hand crafted cane, bamboo, iron and wooden handles a Talarico umbrella makes a statement. The range for men and women is extensive but if you have the time to wait a few days, a bespoke umbrella is the way to go. This is the perfect fashion accessory for the modern Melbourne man, especially with the current weather forecast.
If the thought of a 4000 Euro bespoke suit is a bit scary, why not invest in a bespoke vintage tie. Gianni the man and maker behind Passaggio Cravatte sources the most beautiful vintage silks to craft your own unique tie. Be it paisley, spotted, plain or grenadine, Gianni’s selection is plentiful and he will make it to your exact dimensions. No more short ties for tall guys.
Based in Napoli, Gianni doesn’t have a shop front but is happy to meet you in your hotel lobby or his local bar for a drink or espresso whilst perusing his swatches and talking options. The experience is fun and painless.