Many readers will have read and own a copy of Hugo Jacomet’s 2015 book The Parisian Gentleman. A large, beautifully published tribute to the makers of clothing and accessories who inhabit Frances capital.
Off the back off that successful publication, has come Hugo’s new book, The Italian Gentleman (Amazon link here), a significantly more demanding undertaking, requiring years’ worth of research and travel, to firstly decide upon who to include and to then adequately travel to cover them. It’s no easy task to decide who should make it into the finished publication in a nation known more than any other for their craftspeople in menswear. Where Paris has some of the finest craftspeople condensed into a small area, Italy has greater volume of experts, spread over a much larger and geographically diverse area.
The additional challenge is to then explain to readers (both educated and otherwise) how these craftspeople differ from one another, both in a regional sense and then individually from house to house.
One of my main takeaways from the book will be how well indexed it is in regards to those who made the final selection for inclusion in the book. Hugo has managed to cover the breadth of Italian tailoring and some makers of accessories without repetition or omission. The most famous tailoring houses are given fair page space, along with many smaller houses whose craft is equally good (and often times superior), but they lack the brand awareness of some others, often through less interest or effort in marketing themselves that these others have put time into.
Many of those who I’ve covered previously are featured in the book, including; Musella Dembech, Ambrosi, Anna Matuozzo, Francesco Maglia and a handfull of others, all of whom could have a book dedicated just to themselves. I’d have loved to see Lorenzi Milano included and other similar craftspeople whose products go hand in hand with the menswear highlighted in the book, but with the book’s focus firmly devoted more closely to clothing and footwear, it does potentially open up a can of worms in trying to then include another group of craftspeople into what is already an extensive publication.
In addition to Hugo’s text, the imagery from Lyle Roblin is beautifully executed and extensive, with hundreds of pictures helping to compliment Hugo’s writing in telling the story of each maker.
Upon reflection, what I like most about The Italian Gentleman is that Hugo has managed to successfully write for a broad audience, with enough information to thoroughly explain the concepts behind the tailoring and manufacturing for someone who’s new to tailoring, whilst also providing insights into many makers who a range of readers will already be familiar with.
The Italian Gentleman is a book deserving of a quality bookshelf or coffee table and would be an excellent conversation starter for anyone who spy’s it in your home. What’s more, it’s a book written by a lovely man, helped by his (I’m sorry Hugo) even lovelier partner Sonya. In the menswear world’s sea of ego’s, image crafting and insecurity they are two of menswear’s most humble, fun and genuine people.