Smalto - iconic menswear brand
50 years of master tailoringLindsay McCallum
Tucked away in Paris' 16th arrondissement, within the prestigious Triangle d’Or, is the headquarters and original bespoke workshop of iconic menswear brand, Smalto. Founded by Francesco Smalto in 1962, the Smalto brand has grown from humble beginnings to become a benchmark for luxury menswear and couture suiting.
After creating stage costumes at the age of 14, Francesco decided he wanted to move to Paris to start his own bespoke tailoring business. In just a few short years, he went from costume designer to respected suit maker, designing for the who’s who of European high society. By 1965, the signature Smalto piece was the thigh-high men’s boot that reinforced Smalto’s role in changing the face of the design world, establishing new norms for menswear. A few years after this iconic design, Francesco launched his deluxe ready-to-wear collection, finally cementing his name as one synonymous with couture tailoring.
Always keeping up-to-date and revolutionizing the style of the time, Smalto’s designs flowed through the decades, particularly adapting to the free form of the 1970s. Iconic Smalto suits of this period were noted for their flared trousers, square-shouldered jackets and use of rich materials, such as cashmere.
When suiting up became a sign of power and status in the 1980s, Smalto was one of the top designer choices, especially for the high profile celebrity crowd. Using modern, luxurious fabrics for a more billowing shape, the tailor once again adapted to the style of the decade.
The designer’s success in the menswear arena prompted him to launch a womenswear collection in the mid 1980s, which was of course, menswear-inspired. With his new take on women’s suiting, he went on to create the memorable silhouette of the seductive woman in power.
In the fall/winter 2012 collection, expect to see pieces that are built for the contemporary man. Silhouettes will be sharp, precise, clear and inspired by the tailoring created in the bespoke workshop in Paris. Using prestige fabrics to soften the look, this season’s Smalto man is dressed in a colour palette of slate grey, midnight blue, chestnut and plum. Modern details such as knitwear and braiding are incorporated into both day and eveningwear, emphasizing the cut and fit of the blazer.
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