An old Neapolitan proverb says: “O’ mast che è mast fa’ e’ mesure juste”. This can be translate as follow: “a real master does a suit to the right measures”.
This way Renato Ciardi is nicknamed: O’ Mast! Having more then seventy years of experience is considered among the best tailors in the world.
During our meeting, with great nonchalance, he told me about his father who was a very famous barber in Naples. He wanted to continue the same artisanal work, but it wasn’t possible. Indeed, Renato was left-handed and customers could have had a bad impression in being shaved by a left-handed barber, because in Napoli, during 30’s, left hand was considered as the devil hand.
Renato’s great willing to became an artisan brought him to become a tailor by going through a eight year experience as apprentice of Luigi Blasi, very famous tailor at that time, before opening his shop in 1954.
Smiling he told me about his first client, a well-known lawyer member of constitutional court, who was been sent by his father. The lawyer was very tall (almost two metres, he said) he had a mechanical prosthesis to the leg and he had very long arms. He was a current client of Luigi Blasi who was used to ask a price three times superior than other tailors. Given the excellent apprenticeship achieved by Renato and the friendship with his father the man proposed to pay the same price asked by Blasi.
The young tailor was very embarrassed by that offer, which has caused to him some problems during the realisation of the suit. In fact, Renato, laughing, tells that he had got 78 cm of arm’s measure (usually, this measure oscillate between 60 cm and 65 cm) and that he had thought having made a stupid mistake caused by that generous offer of money; so he cut the fabric considering a measure of 68 cm. Still laughing Renato keeps telling that at the first fitting the sleeve finished just below the elbow. The client was terribly angry with Renato who was absolutely embarrassed.
We usually believe that all great men have always been the bests thanks to an innate talent generously offered by God; this story shows that’s not true. Perfection is achieved with practise and mistakes make us better. Only motivation, rigour and continuity allow obtaining great results.
It has been a beautiful moment spent with a humble and modest man who, despite his reputation, feels no fear to tell his past misadventure. A great man, who has been able to transmit me so much in such little time. Thanks!
My experience continues with Roberto and Vincenzo, Renato’s sons who have started their apprenticeship with their father when they were very young and who today lead the sartoria.
Sat down on very comfortable sofa and a very good Neapolitan coffee in my hand, I ended up learning some detail, I would even say “secrets”, of Ciardi style.
Fundamental point of the sartoria’s production is that there is only one cutter, Vincenzo, which allows keeping just one recognisable style on the suit drop.
Roberto, moreover, wants to specify above all their jacket lines sobriety. Indeed, although sartorial Ciardi’s suits follow Neapolitan tailoring art precepts, they don’t take the characteristic elements to the extreme. I clarify.
Neapolitan jacket par excellence is characterised, for example, by a very singular shoulder called “spalla camicia” (translated: shirt shoulder), which is assembled making visible some pleats at the sewing level.
Roberto explains me that on their jackets the sleeve sewing is done in order to make these pleats less visible possible, moreover this details is really appreciated by the sartorial customers.
I got in the workshop as a simple explorer and what I have seen and felt is clearly unique. Walls, tables and working tools transpire the sartoria’s history and feeling of people, who have been so lucky to get to do their suits by a family of great artisans born and educated in heart of Naples, cradle of masculine tailoring art.
I thank the Ciardi family to welcome me in their workshop and to show me their universe, I can’t wait to get an appointment to order my first Sartoria Ciardi suit. That will be the perfect occasion to show you clearly all characterising element of their work and their style.