Back in 1972, Florentine tailor Stefano Ricci showed his first collection of ties at the Pitti Uomo trade fair, an annual menswear festival that has gained near cult-like status among men’s fashion fans not only for its expansive edit of upcoming brands, but also for its peacocking participants.
From that initial neckwear offering, Ricci’s empire has grown into one of the most powerful luxury labels in Italy, one that now includes shirts, suiting, jewellery, leather goods, home accessories and even wine (all 100 per cent made in Italy).
With a brand so focused on crafting the most rarified lifestyle for its discerning clients, it’s hardly surprising that Ricci has a taste for the finer things in life outside of his day job too. Since buying his first car the year after that first trade fair appearance (a vintage Mercedes), Ricci has amassed an impressive collection of cars, many of which reside at his family estate north of Florence.
The latest addition to his ever-expanding automotive galaxy? A stunning Ferrari 275 GTS, currently being dutifully restored to its baby blue former glory by his two sons Niccolò and Filippo.
The Official Ferrari Magazine: While dress codes for men are breaking down right now with the popularity of sportswear, the suit continues to be the backbone of a man's wardrobe. What is it that gives the suit staying power?
SR: The suit expresses the style and character of a man. In many circumstances the suit is indispensable, but it is first of all perceived as an element of distinction and personal satisfaction. That is why a wardrobe must never lack a formal outfit that may be adapted to different social occasions.
TOFM: Who do you think it the most stylish Italian man to have ever lived, and why?
SR: Gianni Agnelli, a man with a British style perfected by the soft lines of Italian tailoring, managed with an elegant personal touch that was sometimes eccentric yet chic.
TOFM: These days, the word "luxury" gets used a lot. What is the definition of luxury for you?
SR: The term “luxury” has been utilised in international marketing to boost consumption after September 11. But this term was abused, used to justify a higher final price regardless of the quality expressed. And, in my world, this is expressed within the volume Luxor, which I published in 2003, and in which I explained that luxury is a glass of cool water in the desert, or an evening with a few friends around the campfire under the stars in Africa.
TOFM: You have quite a collection of vintage cars. Which are your favourites?
SR: I have a real passion for cars and a well-stocked garage, including an Audi, Aston Martin and Ferraris and I love all of them. My sons Niccolò and Filippo are more tied to the world of Ferrari, and recently they acquired a 275 GTS.
TOFM: You produce your own limited edition wine. Can you recommend an Italian wine that we should try the next time we're in the country?
SR: Oreno is a wine by Setteponti, produced by a long-time friend. I find it to be an elegant, important, wine: Merlot, Cabernet and a touch of Petit Verdot. Wine for connoisseurs, for dinners shared with friends.
TOFM: You come from a design background. Is there anything you would like to design that you haven't yet?
SR: Yes. My dream is to be able to design a chair that will be light, comfortable, elegant, and classic in new way. It’s an impossible mission for every designer.