Brioni’s First Designer T-shirt

Last month there was an extensive article in the paper of record about Brioni’s move to incorporate more casual clothing in its mix, in keeping with the global trend. The New York Times reported that the company decided to come out with its first T-shirt ($250), saying “it’s a telling sign of how both the financial crisis and changing consumer habits are forcing even the most conservative, family-owned luxury goods makers to adapt to a new world.”

While Brioni remains profitable,  unfortunately it has been “forced to reduce the shifts of its 1400 tailors, seamstresses and cutters in the Abruzzo region.”

Yes, every company has to make concessions to the economy and to the changes in the lifestyle of its clientele. But for me, here’s the important part: “Unlike such bigger rivals as Zegna, Brioni has refused to move any of its manufacturing out of Italy to cheaper locales like Mexico.” And for this, I have to commend the company’s management — because once you’ve toured the factory in Penne, Italy and interviewed its tailors and workers, you will never look at one of Brioni’s suits in the same way again. I’ve been there about four or five times and never tire of it. Plus, Penne is such a charming town located in a beautiful region of Italy.

Moroni’s Portrait of a Renaissance Tailor

One of my favorite images that I came across as I was doing visual research for MEN OF THE CLOTH is a painting of a Renaissance era tailor by Giovanni Battista Moroni, a portrait painter of the 16th century. I discovered this image at the New York Public Library’s research branch in Midtown. You may notice it as one of the images in the beginning montage of the Men of the Cloth trailer. It’s also featured on my film’s web site.  Check out the Wikipedia entry.

"The Tailor" By Giovanni Battista Moroni

"The Tailor" By Giovanni Battista Moroni

A couple of years ago, I discovered an article in London’s Guardian newspaper by art critic Jonathan Jones, who waxed poetic, calling this work of art in the National Gallery  a “masterpiece” and labeling Moroni “an obscure genius.” Jones said that Moroni gave his tailor “the same nobility of pose and countenance as his aristocratic clients” because he identified with “workers.” It’s fascinating stuff – and makes me think fondly of my Renaissance art history class at NYU!

Men of the Cloth Filming Locations

As you might imagine, making MEN OF THE CLOTH has entailed a lot of travel over the years – both in the U.S. and abroad in Italy. Usually my crew and I are running around all day until dinnertime filming our interviews and footage, with no time to sightsee. But when I can, I sneak in a few photos here and there.

Abruzzo & The Appenines

Abruzzo & The Appenines

One of my favorite places is the region of Abruzzo, which I’ve visited several times. Sadly, it was in the news this spring because of the powerful earthquake that devastated the area around L’Aquila – the base for the G8 Summit of world leaders held in July. Abruzzo is not as well known as Umbria or Tuscany, but with its rugged terrain and views of the Apennines, it’s spectacular nonetheless.

All over the region, I found the food and local wine in even the most humble trattoria to be absolutely amazing. There are so many Italian Americans from Abruzzo here in the U.S. But with regard to the characters in my film, master tailor Checchino Fonticoli hails from the region (the town of Penne), as does Joe Centofanti’s family, and Nino Corvato’s wife. Take a look at a snapshot I took:

Palermo, Sicily (where Nino Corvato is from) made a big impression on me, especially its dazzling mix of architecture — Norman, Arab, Byzantine, Gothic, Baroque, and Spanish. Many monuments in the city center are illuminated at night, resulting in a magical effect. Check out a couple of shots I took of the Teatro Politeama Garibaldi:

Facade of the Teatro Politeama in Palermo, Sicily

Facade of the Teatro Politeama in Palermo, Sicily

Sculptures on the roof of the Teatro Politeama

Sculptures on the roof of the Teatro Politeama

Ardmore, Pa, home of Joe Centofanti, is a charming suburb of Philadelphia with a wonderful mix of ethnic restaurants, beautiful homes and little boutiques. These are shots taken by my faithful intern, Victoria Lombardi:

Joe Centofanti's shop & a view of Ardmore, PA

Joe Centofanti's shop & a view of Ardmore, PA

And New York City is…well… it’s New York City! It’s the place where I grew up (after leaving Greece as a child), so it’s both familiar and constantly changing. When I first started filming Nino Corvato, his workroom was on 52nd and Madison, but the building is no longer there (it was torn down). He since moved to a new space on Madison between 48th and 49th Streets. My intern, Heather Brookhart, took these smashing photos of NYC in Midtown:

The Bergdorf Goodman store in Midtown & a view from The Plaza Hotel

[Read more…]


Join the Mailing List for Updates on the Film Make a Tax Deductible Contribution to the FilmSupporters of the FilmShare your Tailor StoryBackground Links