Inside the house of Stefano Ricci. Where only ‘Made in Italy’ collections are born
“My mission is to create clothing for the wardrobe of a man who has everything.” One who knows how to appreciate rare and precious materials, sophisticated details, exclusive prints. In a classic and highly personal style.”
It’s true. There is no head of state, royal prince, manager or great sportsman who does not have one article of clothing in their closet from the atelier of wonders; Stefano Ricci, where artisans, a pool of artists with needles and thread, leather goods and goldsmiths, offer their loyalty to the entrepreneur, helping to support that which Ricci defines ‘the culture of elegance’ created through exclusivity, craftsmanship and, obviously, love and passion.
The adventure all began with the necktie. Silk only, designed by him. Then it was the shirt’s turn; the same meticulous production, the same research of materials. Next came the small, leather goods shop. The opening of his first designer boutiques saw the creation of the couture line and shoe wear. In 1997, at Pitti Uomo, Ricci presented the collection of sportswear, jackets and suits, where the most careful attention to detail represents the fundamental value of production. Later, it was the turn of the goldsmith which availed itself of the ancient traditions of Florentine goldsmiths, in a top secret internal workshop.
Stefano Ricci Home, which boasts of gold and silver porcelain, and Stefano Ricci Junior are two more additional spokes in that golden wheel that keeps on turning. It should be noted that the company is happily under the direction of the entire family, where Stefano creates and controls in an exasperating manner, his wife Claudia is in charge of fabrics and production, and his sons Niccolò and Filippo are responsible for research and development, respectively.
We have reached the summit of quality. We moved into the world of silks, muslins, fine wools, cashmere, crocodile skins, diamonds and precious metals, and we have seen, at first hand, the painstaking workmanship that distinguishes each piece.
Mr. Ricci, is it true that it all began in 1972 with a simple necktie?
Yes, it all started in 1972 when, together with Claudia, we decided to create a workshop to make ties. I am a designer and the necktie, for me, has always been an essential element in a man’s wardrobe. I wanted to be able to make the most beautiful tie in the world. Both in quality and aesthetics.
Are your luxury collections an extravagance or excellence?
Luxury is an overused concept- It was launched following September 11 in 2001, to restart consumer sales. It soon became a justification to attach a high price to products for which the only luxury, in the end, was the cost. Therefore, if you are speaking about extravagant luxury, perhaps I got something wrong. Even excellence has often been used out of turn. Rather, I would say that it involves a high quality production, in which the manufacturing process plays a decisive role.
Is everything ‘Made in Italy’?
Absolutely. My product is not even made in Italy, it is ‘produced in Italy’. It expresses content linked to an exclusive design, the finest fabrics and materials, expert craftsmanship, the ability to create a product that seeks the highest quality in the detail.
What is craftsmanship?
The extraordinary ability to work the material, following one rule: hands, head and heart. In this, we Italians are real masters.
In your opinion, is this appreciated in our country?
It is, in certain areas of true excellence. It is no coincidence the large international groups come to visit our workshops. On the other hand, at the political level, a more careful management of our resources would help. I ask for more seriousness and guardianship for the product which is authentically made in Italy. A choice with which to hand down our finest traditions, the knowledge of the of fines arts trades and craftsmanship, the workforce and the payment of taxes in Italy.
Your personal luxury.
In 2003, I wrote a book with Gianluca Tenti and Umberto Cecchi. I called it ‘Luxor’, in search of the deeper meaning of the term which was then more in vogue. I wrote that true luxury, for me, is a glass of water in the desert, gathered with the family and true friends around a fire. Today, I would add being in the countryside, with my dog, a glass of wine and a piece of bread with mortadella.
The episode which changed your life.
The gift from my father when he wanted to give me an historic car. At first, I was proud. Then I understood that it was a very demanding gift. I sold it and with the money I received, I founded Stefano Ricci. A few years later, I was able to buy back that car.
You were able to reopen the Sala Bianca, where it all began. Will the fashion shows return?
I have to thank Eike Schmidt, the director, for having shared this dream. To reopen the Sala Bianca is an honour, but also a responsiblity. I believe that the new direction taken by the Uffizi Galleries to restore fashion to its own spaces, in Palazzo Pitti and the Giardino di Boboli, is a sign which cannot be ignored. Certainly, it deserves respect. If important names arrive, with their own top lines, everything will be easy.