Charles Aznavour dedicated him a couplet in “Je me voyages déja”… Something along the lines of “J’étais certain de conquérir Paris / Chez le tailleur le plus chic j’ai fait faire / Ce complet bleu qu’était du dernier cri” [I was sure of conquering Paris / At the most chic tailor in Paris / This latest blue suit]. Throwback to an icon of the genre.
Once again, Calabria in Italy was the crib for a talented couturier. If his style is less flashy than Gianni Versace’s, it is because Francesco Smalto was formed at Harris, president Kennedy’s tailor. Discretion and luxury in the details being at the centre point, Smalto would later on inject a high dose of refinement, but just like that as if it were nothing. “My goal was to be a couturier different from the others, which is to say to offer something that can’t be seen anywhere else…”
Settled in Paris, rue de La Boétie, in 1962, Francesco Smalto’s boutique would not take long to attract the eyes of the artists of the time. Claude François and Charles Aznavour appreciated the mastery of the suit to such an extent that he made it an indispensable piece for the chic and ambitious man just arrived in Paris. In the song “Je me voyages déja” he is referring to a Smalto suit after all!
It must be said that Francesco Smalto works the art of the suit like no one else. Inspired by the sportswear trend which was in vogue in the 80s, Smalto conceived light and flexible suits. Made of jersey or wild silk, these double-breasted suits or suits with flat pockets and sewn flaps would become the symbol of important men. In real life, politicians swore by him. Françoise Sagan also, “He is one of the rare men that is able to mix luxury and sobriety, daily life and brightness. He is an artists and a god”.
At the cinema, the wildly elegant pieces help the most emblematic of characters like Alan Delon, Jean-Paul Belmondo or even Sean Connery. In Bernardo Bertolucci’s “The Last Emperor” the characters wear Smalto suits – and the play on the brightness of the materials only adds to the fascination!
The Smalto signature? Flower in the button hole, rolled shoulder, Milanese button hole, simplified finishings, lighter lining. The “foulard” tuxedo in crêpe de Chine weighs only 380 grams giving the house a world record…Talking about champions, Smalt is today the official wardrobe for the French football team. Off field, of course. Each of their suits is made under the exact same process as the one invented by Francesco Smalto. The maison details “70 hours of work, 33 steps, 20 artisans are indispensable to create each suit by hand through a traditional technique”. A magnificence that drives Smalto to receive the title of the label “Entreprise du patrimoine” delivered by the french state. A prodigy both discrete and iconic!