Over the last few years, Rubinacci has built an impressive presence around the world, with stores in Rome, Milan, London, Tokyo and of course, Naples.
Their headquarters in Naples’ noble Via Filangieri used to be known as Rubinacci London House because it represented the English style as the Neapolitans interpreted it – of course, with a very Italian twist.
As of October 11, 2012 Rubinacci will officially relocated to their new premises in the former residence of the principe – the Palazzo Celamare in Via Chiaia 149. With about 5400 square feet, the new premises are just slightly larger, but the floor plan allows for a better workflow and setup.
The old atelier will still remain with the Rubinacci family, but it will soon be home to the new Prada store in Naples.
Mariano Rubinacci was so kind as to let me take a look at the new London House before its official opening.
The New London House
Rubinacci is famous for their foulard prints and hand painted foulards, which are the result of a collaboration with a local artist.
One of the wool/silk blend scarves had the motto Le Toilette Du Dandy, which was quite funny, but it’s an inside joke as you would never see this when you wear the scarf.
Inspired by old maps of Naples, Rubinacci created foulard pocket squares with maps and contrasting colored borders. That way you can display the edges as well as the center of your pocket square. Of course, it is stuffed into the chest pocket on a whim so it won’t disturb the sprezzatura.
Up the steps to the Mezzanine, shelves and tables are filled with knitwear, tailored garments and leather goods for men as well as for women. Towards the back of this level, a selection of fabrics is found to the right, with a generously large, brown leather couch in the center and the changing room and swatch books to the left. Of course, they also offer vicuna fabric for suits, blazers and overcoats, but for the connoisseur, Rubinacci’s vintage fabrics are of much greater importance. A few old fabrics are on display up front, along with old swatch books from the 1930’s that give you an idea of the great patterns that once existed.
However, the real vintage treasures are stored in a big safe with a heavy door – in fact, it was so heavy that Mr. Rubinacci wasn’t able to open it the first time I was there, but eventually I was able to take a peak into the treasure cabinet.
Since they just moved in, the cloth was not arranged properly, but the earliest fabrics date back to the 1940’s and the most recent ones to 2011. Of course, not every customer wants a vintage cloth, but the limited supply makes it all the more desirable and of course – storing these limited lengths in a safe is great for marketing.
In order to make sure the fabric doesn’t deteriorate, it is often wrapped in plastic or paper. On the outside, there is a little card that shows a tiny swatch along with the date, article number and meters left, so the staff always knows exactly what they can offer to their customers.
The Rubinacci Tailoring Atelier
From the Mezzanine, an open flight of stairs brings you upstairs to Rubinacci’s tailoring workshop, where all the garments for every Rubinacci store are produced.
The space is well lit, and the armada of cutting tables, Pfaff sewing machines, and irons provide a typical tailor store atmosphere. When I walked through, there were numerous people at work, sewing, basting and
cutting garments. One of the girls was working on a coat with extremely pointy pockets and a colorful Hermès silk lining. I hope the owner will not wear it in tropical climates such as Naples for an extensive period of time, because otherwise he may find color stains on his shirt. Silk, though beautiful, is prone to color off when it gets overly warm and moist. Chances are though that it will go to London, where many of Rubinacci’s of the jackets are delivered.
Obviously, a number of local business men prefer the Neapolitan cut and handwork over the London Savile Row suits, but then again, the grass is always greener on the other side.
Mr. Rubinacci was very kind and polite. When I met him for the first time, one thing that caught my eye right away was his white chambray (a lightweight , plain weave summer fabric that was first made in Cambrai, France) summer shirt that he wore without collar stays and unbuttoned almost all the way to the belly button!
He combined it with mid blue chinos, a blue knit belt and brown loafers. The only colorful accent was a red cloth wristband. When he saw my camera, he wanted to put on a jacket and tie right away but I am not at all a fan of staged photos. Much rather, I prefer to show people as they are in real life, because it purveys style much better than a posed picture.
Once we were back inside, he quickly snapped up one of his coats and a knit tie from the shelf and put it on. After all, I am glad he did, because it was an interesting choice. His navy blue fresco coat was unlined – even in the sleeves!
Most of the time, the lack of sleeve lining is a great way to create awful looking sleeves, because the shirt fabric prevents the coat sleeves from falling nicely. However, in Naples it is often so hot that every breeze is welcome and so Mr. Rubinacci opted against a sleeve lining.
Of course, you can actually see the white shirt underneath, but that’s simply part of the style. Just like the wrinkled sleevehead, the patch pockets, and the pick stitching along every seam.
Overall, it was interesting to take a look behind the scenes of Naples’ most famous tailoring house. Although I did not learn too much about the history or anything else, I guess that’s what the Rubinacci book is for.
Now, what do you think of the new London House? Would you wear a jacket with unlined sleeves? I look forward to reading your comments below.
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