A sartorial conversation with Lello Antonelli, Master Tailor of Sartoria Antonelli Napoli
Dear readers, back in about a month ago, I was attending a trunk show of an Italian high fashion brand, which they showcased array of elegant and luxurious men’s tailoring fashion which inspired by desert and oriental elements, after the show, I was not just feeling inspired but the new collection for the season, but also thinking of how much I missed the sophisticated Italian sartorial menswear. As you all may know, tracing back to the root of Italian men’s tailoring, one of the best place to go is to Naples, where it’s the origin of the most traditional and excellent tailoring that one can find in Italy, today, I am truly delighted to have one of Naples’ esteemed master tailor, Mr. Lello Antonelli of Sartoria Antonelli Napoli, to join me today for a chat about his work, men’s tailoring and men’s style.
A little intro here that Lello has started his apprenticeship with some of the most famous Neapolitan tailors when he was 12 years old, with his hard work and passion over tailoring and mastering his skills over the course, he opened his very own atelier in the heart of the city of Naples in 1980, with his exquisite and qualitative work which won the heart and recognition of a broad range of elite clients and men’s tailoring connoisseurs, Lello’s work has earned him countless awards from the industry as well as interviews by national TV. Today, let’s hear what his master tailor’s POV about the beauty of Neapolitan tailoring, and how did it influence to our sense of style when it comes to refined menswear.
My Modern Darcy: Hi Lello, such a delight to have you today. As understand that you started your apprenticeship with one of the most famous Neapolitan tailor when you were very young, can you share with us what makes you so fascinated with tailoring? And what makes you so determine that this will be your life career?
Lello Antonelli: At the beginning when I started my career, it was not for passion but for necessity; I had economic issues when I was a child, my father passed away when he was very young, and it became necessary (together with my brothers) to help our mother at home to support the family. I chose to go to a tailor and start learning a new job just because my mother and aunt were also a tailor, but after spending several days and nights working there, my passion for tailoring began to grow and get much stronger.
MMD: During the apprenticeship, what are the most memorable lessons that you learnt from your mentor that it applies to you even nowadays?
LA: The base of tailoring were, and how they are nowadays: how to correctly keep a needle and thread, that is the first thing to learn, it’s the tailor’s true art, then giving the first stitches; only after days and days of work, and finally the first finished suit is made.
MMD: In your opinion, what makes Neapolitan tailoring so unique and special? And how does it influence to the men’s tailoring world nowadays?
LA: Neapolitan tailoring means elegance, details and research. A Neapolitan suit is not just (making someone) a well-dressed one, but a Neapolitan looking like a suit: long pleat on forward side, patch pockets, double seam, puffed sleeves etc.
MMD: Can you share with us what’s the house style of Sartoria Antonelli Napoli? And what is your key aesthetic that can be found in each piece of tailoring that come from your atelier?
LA: My atelier’s style is done by details and research. I love classicism and elegancy. I adore to collect vintage stuff, and I think that tailoring does not create fashion but never-ending elegancy.
MMD: As you started your own atelier back in 1980, can you tell us what challenges that you have encountered, and how did you overcome them?
LA: As I said before, I have encountered several challenges, the most were about economic issues. At the earlier period I even did not have the possibility to buy food nor personal necessary! And I am not shy to tell you that because it’s part of my past. When I started to own my first atelier, no one knew who I was, nor what I was doing, people did not have any trust in me and my job. It was a hard period but I did not give up, and after months of hard work, I started to have the first customer, and thanks to their words of mouth, I grew my clientele.
MMD: In your opinion, what are the essentials for an exquisite bespoke suit?
LA: Tailor is not perfect, and he is not made of rules. It’s all about creating a suit that will make men elegant, classy, never gross.
MMD: Now back to yourself, can you let us know what is your signature style and outfit?
LA: My main aspiration were realizing tailoring suits are (made to) maintaining traditions and culture alive, never doing too much.
MMD: How did you define ‘style’? And what does it mean to you?
LA: ‘Style’ is not a set of rules, you cannot learn style at school or from books. ‘Style’ is a way of being and doing, that is why style is only for a few and not for all.
MMD: Besides the outer beauty, in your opinion, what other elements that a modern-day gentleman should have?
LA: A modern-day gentleman should always be fresh and clean, and look elegant, galant (gentlemanly) and urbane.
MMD: If someone approaches you one day and ask you how to become a great tailor, what are your advice?
LA: Definitely the commitment, willpower, dedication and passion.
Special thanks to Mr. Lello Antonelli
Image courtesy of Sartoria Antonelli Napoli