Showing posts with label Francesco Smalto. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Francesco Smalto. Show all posts

Monday, 27 June 2011


   In honour of a vintage silk suit that I did not get around to buying earlier this year, here is a post about the French fashion house Francesco Smalto

via Made By Hand, taken from a particularly worthwhile article from a focused, intelligent tailoring dissection column

   Francesco Smalto is one of those operations that jumped at the seemingly ineluctable call of wide scale commerce in the late 20th century. This is not to say that it wholly lent its brand to the same sorts of aesthetic and quality degradations that engendered a great many unkind memories of legacies that should be ironclad, such as those of Pierre Cardin and Ted Lapidus, and subsequently required the sort of Lazarus-like re-emergences of Yves Saint Laurent Rive Gauche and Dior Homme (both made interesting again by Hedi Slimane - there's a thesis in that, I suspect), to say nothing of Lanvin, but the business certainly progressed rather far from its origins as a purveyor of rather excellent bespoke under the auspices of the Calabria-born Smalto himself. Nowadays, Monsieur Francesco, who wove his own way after having blossomed as a cutter at Camps, one of the great French houses, is retired, although it is said that he occasionally furnishes the odd wealthy client with new suits; from what I've read, the prices could be rather Bijan-like, although the house presently presents high-end made-to-measure as full bespoke. Purists, check your blood pressure

   Many exposed to Smalto's advertising campaigns over the years probably cannot remove the following phrase from their minds: "Francesco Smalto, you make me weak!" This tagline is more amusing when one considers that he sent suits to the late Gabonese president Omar Bongo by way of an escort service, terming the women "corporate gifts," for which a Paris court in 1995 convicted him for pandering and fined him 600,000 francs, although the slogan actually accompanied one of his colognes. Incidentally, the court estimated that Bongo's regular orders of Smalto suits roughly equated to 3 million francs yearly. I understand that his Middle Eastern clients were kept similarly satisfied; whilst many dressers may like a little sex with their tailoring, I am not certain whether to commend Smalto for his enterprise and consideration or condemn him for being a touch overfamiliar. One probably doesn't get this at Cad & the Dandy - and they are the ex-City boys

   Other achievements include designing the garments of astronauts, creating the world's lightest-weight dinner suit in black China crepe and amassing a global client base sated by an attention to detail, luxurious fabrics and an impeccable fit; all good reasons to minimise the case of the whores when it comes to crafting his epitaph. There's ready-to-wear too (my father once owned a couple of shirts in fine lightweight fabrics), but of course, the bespoke is where Smalto shone

The idiosyncratic Smalto lapel; like the Cran Necker/Parisienne, it is the sort of halfway house between a notch and a peak that is not so easily categorised. I'm certain that I saw them on Mubarak. Another detail that I spied on the 1980s suit I considered was a same fabric belt for the trousers that, unlike those of Chester Barrie or Spencer Hart, was thoughtfully backed in leather

   Smalto is an ideal tailor, really - strong talent and the willingness to lead a colourful, indelicate life make him what he is: one of the most gifted and industrious of his kind. And lest we forget, it is still considered rude in some places to refuse corporate gifts. And escorts