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Before there were designers, there were tailors. Major developments in the history of menswear follow the careers of innovative and influential tailors, such as Frederick Scholte, who invented the drape cut and rose to prominence with his most famous client, the Prince of Wales, to Vincenzo Attolini’s softer Neapolitan rendition of the English suit. A generation later, Mario Formosa became the new sought after tailor in Naples.
Mario built a clientele of prominent local Neapolitans and, as is traditional in the world of Neapolitan tailoring, wealthy Brits who came to Naples for summer vacations. As mercurial as he was talented, Mario let his eye guide his freehand drawing of every lapel that he cut. No two Formosa suits were made the same, even for the same client in the same order. Instead each was a unique product of Mario’s daily inspiration. What they all shared was the easy comfort and rakish grace of the Neapolitan style.
Sadly, Mario passed away a few years ago. But the latest generation of admirers of the classic Neapolitan style can still find the Formosa workshop in its same location, today run by Mario’s son Gennaro. Formosa suits still feature the careful handwork, soft construction, and elegant curves that made Mario a legend when Gennaro was a boy.
No man can look stylish and uncomfortable at the same time. It’s unfortunate that so many today associate the suit with the stiff and boxy uniforms sold at department stores. We much prefer a suit that offers shape without the shackles of a unnecessary construction, padding and glued layers. We are happy to offer a suit that, like a good friend, is easy to get along with but never boring.
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