Monsieur Francesco Smalto: The first fifty years of the Parisian Empire of masculine elegance

Exceptional and unique tailor, iconic designer of the masculine “haute couture”, perfect couturier de style, architect of the masculine elegance, inventor and creator, Francesco Smalto celebrates the 50th Anniversary of his famous Maison, founded in 1962, in Rue de la Boétie, in the 8th Parisian Arrondissement.

On that very special occasion, the Parisian Editor Cherche Midi decided to publish the book dedicated to Francesco Smalto, from the very beginning to the 21st century. This specific tribute to the living legend born in 1927 in Reggio di Calabria, Province of Calabria, Italy, presents the designer’s life, the very special professional journey and the specific, recognizable style with the refinement between the classic and the modern, but always elegant, different and noble… Smalto gives his definition of elegance, which in a very direct way represents the code for success:

Smalto’s talent was noticed during his childhood, when a boy, aged only 11, made costumes for the local puppet theater, then at 14, as a schoolboy, he created his first suit and decided to start his apprenticeship in Turin, Piedmont, Italy, where he obtained his diploma. He moved to Paris in 1951, to start his internship at the Maison de Christiani and then later at Camps, where he spent six years of work. La Maison de Camps was virtually every Parisian’s designer house, which remained a remarkable experience! One interesting excursion in his career, represented the trip to New York, and the work for Harris’, at that time the tailor of the late President Kennedy. It was actually in New York that Smalto discovered the comfort in the cuts, prioritizing it later. Upon his return to Paris, he opened his first boutique in Rue de la Boétie, in the 8th Parisian Arrondissement.

His idea of the ideal suit was born: it needs to be fitted to the body! He then continued inventing: suspended shirts, white tuxedos, original jackets, vinyl waders for the future astronauts and the famous Smalto’s shoulder, l’épaule roulée, which remained unsurpassed! 

In 1967, Francesco Smalto started with the luxury ready-to-wear collection and introduced the line of accessories!

In 1970, Smalto moved to Rue François 1er, the legendary Parisian address (corner with Rue Bassano), where I have for the first time seen the incredible suits, sweaters, shoes, belts, coats and the glasses, which, later as a teenager, I have been wearing! The atmosphere in the boutique was always warm and I felt at home there, but I will never forget the boutique at my wonderful square Victor Hugo, which remained deeply rooted in my memory, together with the best cut of jeans I have been wearing for years with the special touch of the Creative Director, Mr Franck Boclet, with the beautifully designed shoes matched with a reversible belt and a lovely scarf… I was a very well styled teenager, back in the 1990s, most probably due to the fact that I extremely rarely purchased very carefully chosen garments!

In 1975, he produced the lightest tuxedo in black crêpe-de-Chine… Numerous political figures and the actors proudly wear Smalto’s creations made exclusively sur mesure of the best English fabrics. In every aspect of his work, he has tremendously important liberating effect on fashion, keeping always his recognizable style, elegance and uniqueness, regardless of the lines: bespoke or ready-to-wear. His successors, first Franck Boclet and then Ms Youn Chong Bak continued with the artistic line that Francesco Smalto introduced.

On the occasion of the symbolic 50th Anniversary, another collection has been presented in the spirit of the previous “Héritage”. This year, the exceptional collection was simply named: “Francesco Smalto 50 ans”, which consists of the 3 cuts of suits, dedicated to the founder of the house and his inventions.

The times change, the trends come and pass, the role of the clothes changed in our societies, but the recognizable codes of elegance introduced by Monsieur Francesco Smalto will remain forever! In the masculine fashion, the first half-century of the Maison de Smalto, was remarkable, unique and the presence of this unique style – so much needed on the fashion scene.

Happy Anniversary Monsieur Smalto! 

M.N.

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