Shopping Rome: Battistoni

In the version of Minghella’s The Talented Mr. Ripley , the two main characters, Dickie Greenleaf and Tom Ripley, are shown riding a train from Naples to Rome. Dickie thinks Tom should get a new jacket, as he’s always wearing the same one. “Let me buy you a jacket,” Dickie says. “When we get to Rome, there’s a great place. Battistoni . “He then proceeds to sing” Roma, we’re taking Tom to Roma! “As Tom smiles out of the side of His mouth and softly repeats the name, Battistoni , like it was some magical place.

The entrance to Battiston in Via Condotti, Rome.

Indeed, Battistoni is enchanting. The shop opened in 1946, right before the Continental look took off in the 50s and 60s. It was during this time That Rome-not Milan or Naples-was seen as the center of Italian fashion. The city’s style and architecture was shown off through Italian film (directors such as De Sica, Fellini and Antonioni, to name a few), and many foreigners felt safer since visiting Italy That had become a republic. Some of These foreigners were American movie stars, like Gary Cooper and Douglas Fairbanks, who would come to the capital to get Their custom made suits and silk pajamas. And as we all know of That period, where America’s cinematic royalty went, much of the public Followed.

Guglielmo Battistoni with Marlon Brando. Brando made motorcycle jackets and denim look good, but he could make Also with the silk neck.

During this time, many of These figures visited Battistoni. The shop was more of a salon than a showroom, however. The wood-paneled walls, marble floors, and fine art lent to rarified air, and some of world’s most interesting men would come here to share ideas and gossip while they picked out ties and got measured. Artists such as Marc Chagall, for example, would rub elbows with literary men such as John Steinbeck, and the Duke of Windsor and Gianni Agnelli were Also known to stop by. Marlon Brando one day even arm-wrestled the store’s founder, Guglielmo Battistoni, just for fun (Brando won). Humphrey Bogart came Often know That he asked if he could leave a bottle of whiskey for himself here. This salon culture has somewhat disappeared in the modern age, but on a recent visit, the space still felt more like a gentleman’s social club than a store.

A clubby interior at Battistoni.

In addition to the atmosphere, the store has an impressive range of finely tailored goods. Battistoni is perhaps most famous Their shirts. After all, the founder, Signore Guglielmo, was an esteemed shirt makers. He made collar points slightly longer and larger, narrower side seams, and high armholes. Everything was hand finished, but fit very cleanly. Today, prices for custom shirts start around $ 500. They also have made-to-measure suits That begin at $ 2,750, and ready-to-wear suits for $ 1,850. *

Then there are the non-tailored goods. For example, they have a selection of Italian-made Inglese-style shoes for about $ 550. These are made with beautiful, dark brown, fine grained leathers and stitched together using a Goodyear machine. There is Also a room full of one-to four-ply cashmere knits ranging between $ 475 and $ 1,000, Depending on the style and construction. Whether v-necks, Crewnecks, or cardigans, These were all incredibly soft and well finished. In the adjacent room, you can find a variety of belts (including some beautifully rich crocodile skins) and a range of outerwear jackets and coats. One of the navy field jackets was Particularly impressive to me. The shell was made with a smooth microfiber and finished with dark horn buttons. The lining was pure cashmere, and there was a removable cashmere vest, Which you could zip in for colder months. Price On That was about $ 2,250.

Field jacket at Battistoni.

Ties at Battistoni.

More Battistonian silks.

Some of the best items in the store are the ties. The silks feature unique application prints, Which means they have crisper edges than Their British counterparts, and the cashmeres have a very nice, soft hand. Both are made with soft interlining, so they knot and drape beautifully. Silks start at $ 145 and $ 190 at cashmeres. I could not possibly resist leaving without one, so I picked up the red tie you see above. Looking back, I wish I had taken the blue tie with white print as well.

Today, Signore Guglielmo’s children, Gianni and Simonetta, manage the store. Both have kept the store exactly as Their father left it, tucked away in a courtyard off of Via Condotti. It’s a store of good taste immeasurably, and a must-visit for anyone in Rome.

The director of The Bicycle Thief Vittorio De Sica-less in the gritty setting of Battistoni.

* Note That All prices in this article include VAT. If you’re a non-EU customer, you can deduct 20%.

Battistoni
Via Condotti 61A
00187 Rome Italy

T: 06/6976111
info@battistoni.com

Shopping Naples: Gutteridge

Should you ever find yourself in Italy and in need of the most affordable wardrobe possible, you can begin at Gutteridge. The prices at this store—which has locations across Italy, including Naples, Florence, and Milan—are near the proverbial rock bottom. For example, when I stopped by during their end-of-the-season sale, they were selling scarves for $20; sweaters, shirts, and ties for $35; and sport coats for $100. That’s H+M territory, and that’s not even considering the 20% VAT discount non-EU customers enjoy.

Decent styling but middling quality at Gutteridge.

 

 

The downside, as you can guess, is that the quality leaves much to be desired. The sport coats have big armholes and slightly stiff shoulders. They’re also are made with cheap fabrics, although they spare us the exaggerated pick stitching many Italian companies like to use. Gutteridge’s knit ties also felt thin and floppy, and the weaves of their sweaters didn’t feel very resilient.

Not that surprising given the price. Personally, I think there are much better deals at shops such as Boggi, but if you had to get a slim fitting sport coat, and you couldn’t spend more than $100, Gutteridge is a decent—if not the only—place to start.

Nobody beats the ‘ridge.

Gutteridge’s plus is offering some Italian styling, of a type you don’t see much of in the United States.

“Saldi” is Italian for “sale.” Use context clues.

 

Shopping Naples: Milord

Most of the good shopping in Naples is done in the seaside district of Chiaia. Here are your bespoke tailors, high-end tie makers, and ready-to-wear luxury brand shops. As you can imagine, most of this stuff is pretty expensive. There are a few affordable spots, however. One of them is Milord Naples, which has been in Naples since 1996 (and has no relation to the Milord in Florence). Some of the things you’ll find in Milord are things you can, it seems, buy almost anywhere—Lardini suits, LBM jackets, Borrelli ties.

Yes, Milord.

 

Some things, on the other hand, are a bit more difficult to come by. For example, there were Agho chambray shirts for $115 and Dallago shirts for $175. Agho was fairly standard, but Dallago featured hand stitching along the yoke and French placket, as well as handmade buttonholes. The thick mother-of-pearl buttons were also hand sewn with crowfoot stitching and a nicely wrapped shank, and the fabric came from Albini or Mason.

Then there was an Intelato camel colored coat for $700. The double-seam pick-stitching was a bit too prominent for my taste, but I could see it working well for a man in his 20s.

Perhaps most impressive of all were these house-brand suede shoes, which were Goodyear welted and made in either Italy or Romania (depending on the line). At full retail, they were $165, but at the end January, when Italian stores have their big sales, they were discounted to about $82.

Told you there are some affordable deals.


To see more of Derek Guy’s articles on shopping in Naples, visit his author page.

A visit to Cilento, Naples.

 

The scene at Cilento.

Cilento is the oldest men’s store in Naples, possibly even all of Italy. Like many good things in Naples, it’s not something you’d easily come across unless you knew what you were looking for. It’s outside of the main shopping districts and close to some government buildings. Nonetheless, it’s quite well known to the locals and a real treat to visit.

The shop was founded in 1780, but it wasn’t until 1820 when it was moved to its present location on via Medina, where it’s currently spread across two buildings. The main shop holds a range of clothing, footwear, and accessories that would satisfy the taste of any businessman or outdoorsman. Here you see mannequins with waxed field jackets and floppy cotton hats. Fine leather bags decorate the tops of old wooden shelves, which in turn hold stacks of neatly stacked, soft, woolen knits. Casual trousers and surcingle belts hang from the same display rack, and next to them is a large, heavy wooden tray that holds a selection of handmade ties. Further back in the store, bolts of English wools are set alongside Italian cottons, both ready to be made into custom suits and shirts for incoming clients.

Well stocked.

There’s also a large selection of shoes. In keeping with the store’s classic taste, these include models by John Lobb, Edward Green, and Alden. There is an emphasis on brogues, chukkas, and derbies, and a surprising number of them are black, given Neapolitan men’s reputation for mainly wearing brown.

Exotic skin in loafers and laceups.

The secondary shop is just outside and a few steps away. This one is a renovated boutique dedicated primarily to ties. The room’s central display table holds a beautiful array of seven-folds, each handmade out of English silk. The designs are conservative and elegant, often using small flower or figured patterns not unlike those I found at Marinella. More ties are displayed in heavy wooden trays at the sides of the room, and under them are innumerable drawers holding sample fabrics for bespoke commissions. Prices start around 100 euros, which seemed typical of the high-end neckwear in this city.

Tie fabric from the 1930s.

To some degree, much of this description sounds like any high-quality classic men’s store in the world, but what really sets Cilento apart is the small studio above the tie shop. Go through the back, up the stairs, disappear through another set of doors and you suddenly feel like time has stopped. Spread through these five or six rooms is a complete private collection of objects from the company’s 232-year history. There are counters and shelves with old shoes and wool fabrics; beautiful early 20th century furniture, paintings, and prints; and original receipts from the family’s previous business in the shipping industry. There are also forgotten artifacts, such as an old trouser press and sample silk swatches for custom ties in the 1930s. In the other rooms, there are vintage women’s scarves, made for Fiat using some of their 1920s advertisement designs. The whole place is a veritable museum of Neapolitan sartorial history, narrated through the original tools, garments, and even cloths of their time. Ugo, the eighth generation Cilento behind the company, tells me they host many parties and social events here. You can watch video of last October’s and November’s events on YouTube.

Tailoring history everywhere you look.

A vintage scarf made for Fiat.

Before I left, Ugo was kind enough to give me a bottle of the company’s wine. Only 450 bottles are made per year, and they’re usually given to the company’s best clients. I went home that night, had a few glasses, and listened to the street noise as I thought about how satisfying the day was. It’s not every day you get to check out a men’s store as old as America itself.

M. Cilento e F.llo dal 1780
Via Medina 61 A-B
80132 Napoli
Italy

Tel. +39 081 5513363
Email: cilento1780@fontelnet.it

A visit to Rubinacci, Naples.

Mention Rubinacci to any tailor in Italy and proper deference is paid, which is impressive given how much petty sniping there can be in the trade. Gennaro Rubinacci founded the company in 1932. “It actually began as a joke,” Mariano Rubinacci told me on my recent visit to Naples. “But of course, we take our business very seriously nowadays.”

Rubinacci’s space in Naples.

The Rubinacci family made their fortunes in the silk trade, which they entered in the 18th century. They imported silks from India and sold them to tailors, dressmakers, and upholsterers in Naples. The family built such a dynasty that Gennaro—Mariano’s father—never had to take on a professional career. Like other men in his family, Gennaro led a life of leisure and elegance. He socialized with royal families, lived in villas, and built a world-class collection of Capodimonte porcelains. He was an aesthete, a courtier, and a leading dandy in his day.

He was also an arbiter elegantiarum. The Neapolitan gentry was heavily interested in tailored clothing at the time, and many of the men would ask Gennaro to accompany them to the tailors so that they could get his opinion on various cloths and cuts. His presence at these fittings became such a ritual that he decided to start his own tailoring house, but more as a side hobby than a real business. It was called London House, since London at the time was considered the standard bearer for men’s style, and Gennaro wanted to represent that style in Naples. At its start, the firm was more like a social club for gentlemen. Well-to-do men went there to socialize, ask Gennaro for advice, and order suits.

Silk is a theme.

Many, many suits. Orders for 30, 40, and even 50 suits at a time were not uncommon and some men would even come in for five or six fittings before they allowed the tailor to finish the buttonholes. To be sure, this was partly because they were demanding customers, but it was also a way for them to gather and socialize with their peers. Tailoring at the time was not just about the products and craft, but also the social activities that went along with them.

Over the years, some of Naples’s most important tailors have worked for Rubinacci. Vincenzo Attolini, for example, invented the softly constructed Neapolitan jacket while he was a cutter here. The legendary Antonio Panico, who replaced Attolini, took this a bit further when he made a safari jacket out of a seven-ounce wool gabardine. “At the time, the lightest summer jackets were made out of a 9-ounce cloth,” Mariano said. “In fact, this cloth was mainly used for priests’ robes, but we used it for jackets.”

Pattern, texture, shape.

In addition to being lightly constructed, Rubinacci’s jackets are built with lapped seams that run along the shoulder. These give the jacket a bit of strength and structure, which is useful for when Mariano violently pulls down on the jacket during the first fitting, so that the garment can take the wearer’s form. The seams end at the big, full sleeveheads, which are fed into small armholes. This construction gives the sleevehead little pleats and puckers, which are not only beautiful artisanal details, but also subtly show off the jacket’s Neapolitan, hand-tailored provenance.

Then there are the other details. Two patch pockets at the hips, and the barchetta (i.e., shaped like a boat) or pignata pocket (shaped like a brandy snifter) at the breast. In addition, there is decorative double stitching at the lapels, some drape at the swelled chest, and an extended front seam that goes down to the hem, which helps the tailor put in more shape at the waist.

Coats at Rubinacci.

These are merely the mechanical, production aspects of Rubinacci’s bespoke tailoring, however. As many Rubinacci customers have said, part of what you’re paying for is the tailoring, and part of it is the service. Gennaro, after all, was largely an advisor, and Mariano plays the same role today. Clients come in with some sort of idea of what they want, and Mariano helps them translate it into an elegant look. There are some details, however, to which he’ll always politely say “no.” A two-button jacket? Always a polite no. Center vent? Also a polite no. In my limited experience working with tailors, I’ve come to really value this kind of pushback, as it shows that the person has an opinion and is willing to assert their expertise.

In addition to their bespoke tailoring services, Rubinacci also offers ready-to-wear collections. At their flagship store, ready-to-wear is housed on the entry level, which sits just above the womenswear floor. The menswear level is decorated with mounted stag antlers and antique ships, as well as silk scarves with paintings printed on them, each of which celebrate some aspect of Neapolitan culture.

A tailcoat and bolts at Rubinacci.

The first room on that level houses ties and pocket squares, the second has sweaters and a dressing room (which is separated, by the way, by a beautiful and substantial silk curtain), and the third has ready-to-wear odd trousers and sport coats. The most amazing, however, has to be the last room, which is almost like a treasure vault. Here you can sit on tan leather couches and admire various display mannequins with old, bespoke tailcoats and morning coats. Two of the walls also hold bolts of cloth, including some from the early 20th century, and next to the couches are the company’s original order books. Flipping through those order books and handling the fabrics brought the Golden Age of the 1930s back to life.

Slubly neckwear.

A book of orders.

Mariano took me on a tour of the laboratorio upstairs, where bespoke garments are made and some of the business administration offices are kept. Thirty tailors and four cutters work there, and they’re spread across five or six rooms. The floor is very quiet, almost like a library, since almost everything is done by hand. The only thing you hear is the tailors’ almost in-unison “hello” as Mariano walks into the room. Otherwise, everyone is heavily concentrating on his or her work, though the sunlight and sea breeze coming in through the open windows makes the room feel pleasant and relaxed.

As we walked back to the main floor, Mariano told me he plans to expand into another building, located very close to the flagship. The new space will house a conference room, an additional workspace for tailors, and a museum to showcase some of the company’s bespoke tailoring from the 1930s through 1950s. I was most excited to learn that this will include some of the garments made for Vittorio de Sica, such as the evening tailcoat he wore in Il Signor Max.

Before I left, I asked Mariano what he thought of the future of his firm and Neapolitan tailoring in general. He’s decidedly optimistic. Many of his tailors are in their 30s and in the last decade, he has seen more and more young men come into the shop as customers. (I imagine much of this is due to his son often being featured on websites such as The Sartorialist). Contrast this to other tailors, who often struggle to find new workers and customers. Rubinacci, with their unfailing commitment to craft and tradition, an international presence, and a very visible public face, seems to have none of these problems. The future of Naples’ biggest bespoke tailoring house seems bright.


Discuss Rubinacci on the official Styleforum thread

A visit to E. Marinella, Naples.

The E. Marinella shop is quite small. It looks out across the park towards the waterfront and its entrance is framed with imported English wood and Calabrian green marble. As soon as you walk in, there is a wrought-iron Liberty-style chandelier that hangs above your head and wooden display tables in front of you that hold an array of beautiful ties. Rep stripes and Macclesfield prints, all made in a rainbow of colors, are showcased alongside a small selection of watches, colognes, ashtrays, and leather goods. Everything here is essentially the same as it was in 1914, before the two world wars and three political regimes that Marinella has seen Italy go through.

The finest in soporificity.

 

E. Marinella has remained here since its opening, even though the company has far outgrown it. There’s simply not enough room here for its inventory or operation. Thus, behind the shop—outside and up the stairs—is a showroom for not only its full collection of neckties, but also all the accessories that the company offers.

Scarves and squares.

 

Timepieces at Marinella.

 

For example, there are the watches that Maurizio (the third generation Marinella man behind the company) has put into production. These actually began with a funny story. It’s often advised that you should leave your Rolex at home when visiting Naples, given the city’s reputation for crime and disorder. As such, Maurizio decided to give his clients plastic watches, which they could wear in place of their more expensive pieces while they were in town. These plastic watches, however, soon became collectors items and clients held on to them for their value. After seeing their unintended success, Maurizio decided to produce a small collection of watches that reflected his passion for timepieces and the company’s sense of style. Today, these watches are made with steel cases and Swiss movements and classic designs.

Neapolitan history in ceramic.

 

They also have incredible ashtrays with paintings of the city’s history, allowing a customer to leave not just with something that reminds them of Marinella, but also of Naples. Near the ashtrays are fine leather belts in a range of brown tones and colorful Kilim scarves.

Loredana, the woman who assisted me at the store, was also kind enough to show me Marinella’s assortment of cufflinks and charms, some of which were made out of precious red coral. Red coral has an elevated place in Neapolitan culture. The origin of the material is believed to be explained in a Greek myth about Perseus. Having just petrified Cetus, a sea monster threatening Andromeda, Perseus placed Medusa’s head on the riverbank while he washed his hands. When he recovered the head, he noticed that Medusa’s blood turned the seaweed into red coral. The material is now believed to protect people from danger and disease, and cure women of sterility. For this reason, a pair of red coral cufflinks would be very special, though also not very cheap.

Links and charms at Marinella.

 

More affordable items in the store include a handsome selection of Italian leather wallets. The simpler card cases start around $125, and they’re excellently made. The leather is finely stitched and the edges are better finished than I’ve seen on most handmade wallets stateside. There are also colognes and perfumes, starting at $110. The red-bottled 286 smells of lavender, sage, and tobacco, with amber and musk at the base. The unnamed blue bottle has a citrusy, almond scent with hints of marine and musk. One of the upsides to these scents is that they’re hard to find outside of Naples (I know only of De Corato carrying them), which means you’re unlikely to risk smelling like another man.

Perhaps most affordable of all were the bath slippers, which came in either a simple ivory or baby blue, with discreet “E. Marinella” embroidery at the top. At about $60 for a pair, should you not be able to leave with anything else, you can probably at least leave with these.

 

Derek Guy also writes at Die! Workwear and Put This On.

E. Marinella
Riviera di Chiaia, 287
Naples, Italy
Ph. +39 081 245 11 82
marinella@marinellanapoli.it


To read more of Derek’s visits to Neapolitan stores, click here

Liverano and Liverano, Florence.

Thank the lord of #menswear that Pitti Uomo isn’t held at a godforsaken hotel conference center somewhere in the vastness of middle America. As hip as it’s become to whine about the strutting dandies and trade show circus at Pitti, it’s still an event crammed with eye candy and the low hum of new things happening in menswear–and it’s in fucking Florence. Which means simultaneous access to Tuscan steak, wine,  good Italian coffee, and tailoring tradition.

A window into Liverano’s atelier.

Such as you will find at the atelier of Antonio Liverano, who has been making suits since the 1940s, when he started his business with his brother. I spent some time at Liverano’s atelier in Via Dei Fossi, talking with manager Takahiro Osaki and Signore Liverano about Liverano’s history, cut, and character. Taka and Sig. Liverano (with Taka translating) showed off the hallmarks of Florentine style jackets. Takahiro said the cut is rooted all the way back in 18th century Florence. There’s some English influence in the styling, remnants of when Domenico Caraceni fused Savile Row tailoring with Italian traditions in the early 20th. A Liverano jacket is balanced and flattering on most men–it has natural shoulders (but no spalla camiccia), some room in the chest, a single dart on each side of the body angling inward from the arm, and open quarters. Shorter in length than some others, the Florentine cut, said Taki, is distinguishable from Roman and Neapolitan cuts–Roman having more structure (think Brioni) and Neapolitan being softer, more casual, and often closer to the body. On a Liverano jacket, the shoulder seam angles back from the collar to the shoulder. The default pocket style is jetted (no flaps), and, naturally, jackets have double vents. Of course, details are details, and can potentially be aped by other makers; the cut, though, there’s a nuance to it that’s unique to Liverano.

Signore Liverano.

Although I spent the most time there on a chilly January evening, I visited the atelier several times during our time in Florence, as I was in the neighborhood often and the shop was busy with customers, many of whom were in town for Pitti. The gentlemen from the Armoury stopped in–both Ethan and Mark have had garments made by Liverano. Fortunately I could chat with those guys or browse Liverano’s selection of ready-to-wear tailoring, as well as shirts, ties, pocket squares, socks, hats, scarves, and gloves. Sig. Liverano spoke with customers, wearing a pinstripe suit, purple knit tie, and Alden chukkas. I said it was good to see renowned tailors breaking some established rules. Taka assured me that they were playing with rules; but recommended not playing with the rules too much.

Ties, soporific and otherwise.

 

Taka also showed me some details on their bespoke shirts. On a blue broadcloth shirt, there was no placket and no pocket–styling choices Liverano considers to add elegance. Gussets are set by hand. The collar and cuffs are not entirely soft–there’s some lining and stiffness. They recommend a decent amount of tiespace for the tie, as they prefer a larger knot. The language barrier became apparent as we tried to describe shirt components, although Taka’s English is good. Taka admitted that it was sometimes difficult getting certain expressions across, as many of their customers speak English only. But they manage. New bespoke customers who are local can expect a suit to be made in about a month and a half, with two fittings. Repeat customers can have a suit made with only one. Liverano keeps customers’ paper patterns in the atelier.

The shirts get the pleated shoulder treatment, not the jackets.

Liverano ready to wear as well–the balance tilts more toward the bespoke side these days. Most customers order full suits rather than odd jackets and many are local, at least to Italy. There are also a lot of Liverano fans in Japan, among the Yasuto Kamoshita, designer of the Camoshita line for United Arrows and a longtime Liverano customer. Liverano’s wares have been available for about 4 years at a shop-in-shop through United Arrows and their Sovereign House shop, where Liverano travels several times each year for trunk shows.

United Arrows preview!

For fabrics, every year, they buy from Zegna, Draper’s, and Dormeuil, among others. Taka said most customers trust them to choose.  “Some people say we’re particular–really, customers don’t choose the fabrics. We reach an understanding.” He picked up a bolt of fabric and tossed it over my shoulder. “This fabric, it’s too close to your skin. This one,” picking up another, “has more contrast.” Taka said at Liverano, they have an understanding of a customer’s face, shape, and coloring, and can choose fabrics that will lead to a more elegant result. “We know how to make a beautiful suit,” said Taks. “And we can explain that to our customers. They trust us. We will ask them, when they buy a suit, ‘Where will you go with this?'” Liverano will also help choose accessories. With certain fabrics, you’ll want a bright color shirt, a brilliant tie, to complement yourself and the suit. The accessories, they told me,  can help you wear the suit better.

I took a quick tour through the back rooms at the atelier. From the street Liverano looks like a small shop, but several busy workrooms, offices, storage, and even a garden are nestled neatly in the interior of the block. Like a Liverano suit, there’s hidden complexity, worth exploring, behind the elegant appearance.

Work in the atelier, steps from Liverano’s garden.

Liverano and Liverano
Via Dei Fossi, 43r.
50123 Florence Italy
055 239 6436
055 267 6435
info@liverano.com