Sartoria Formosa has perhaps one of the best reputations in Naples. The tailoring house is tucked away in the same courtyard as E&G Cappelli, right on Via Cavallerizza, between Via Mille and Via Cavallerizza. It’s a small, woody courtyard–not a lot of foot traffic. However, the workmanship brings its own clientele, and people throughout Naples say the best double-breasted jackets are made here.
The original proprietor, Mario Formosa, passed away somewhat recently, and his son Gennaro now runs the shop. Gennaro is an incredibly warm and gracious gentleman. I came with Gianluca Migliarotti, the director of O’Mast, and he welcomed us both into the workshop by offering us some espresso (a cultural custom for Neapolitan tailors). While we chatted, I noticed three tailors fastidiously sewing away, one of whom was a particularly young man. A good sign for those of us who hope to see Neapolitan tailoring continue well into the future.
Gennaro showed me three garments. The first was one of the double breasted jackets that his father was known for. It was a 6 x 2 jacket (six buttons, two functioning) with peak lapels, extended front darts, and slightly puckered sleeves. The natural, soft shoulders (spalla scesa) and subtly sweeping lapel made it something to behold. The second was a navy single-breasted jacket with a few details that you commonly see in Naples—3/2 roll, soft shoulders, extended front darts, and slightly extended lapels to accentuate the chest. Instead of patch pockets, however, there were jetted ones, and in place of the double stitching, there were single seams that ran right up to the edge. These details gave it a nice, sober look. Finally, Gennaro pulled out a grey herringbone coat that his tailors were working on. It was slightly shaped in the waist, and had a beautiful curved roll towards the buttoning point.
Across from the laboratorio is another workspace, which functions partly as a showroom and partly as a working area for a custom denim line that Gennaro is developing. The jeans had a very continental feel, meaning the fabrics were slightly softer and the fit slightly slimmer. There were also some shirts on display, which made me think Formosa did custom shirts here as well. The collars were exactly the kind you see everywhere in Naples—somewhat high collar bands with soft, long points.
Later that evening, Gianluca and I were walking around Chiaia when we bumped into Gennaro again, who happened to be on his way driving home from work. “Come in,” Gennaro said. “I’ll show you the rest of Naples!” Ever the host, he took us through Bagnoli and Posillipo, two western seaside districts where Roman ruins run up right to the water’s edge. The region sits high above the city, and you can see Mount Vesuvius, the Bay of Pozzuoli, and much of Naples itself. The views were spectacular, and you could see the water and city sparkle below the cliffs. After he dropped me off at my hotel, I smiled on my day well spent.
Showroom and laboratorio
Via Cavallerizza a Chiaia, 37
Tel. +39 081.41.45.92
Via della Moscova, 30
Tel. +39 02.89.45.34.90/91
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I think the “calendar” is a picture of Mary.