Founded in Italy in 1880 by Giuseppe Cifonelli, transplanted to Paris by his son Arturo in the 1930s, and today helmed by Giuseppe’s great-grandsons, cousins Massimo and Lorenzo, Cifonelli is one of the world’s great tailoring houses — and certainly among the finest in France.
Another legendary Parisian import, Karl Lagerfeld once famously stated, “I could recognise a Cifonelli shoulder from a distance of a hundred metres,” and indeed, it is the distinctive shoulder line that is a Cifonelli jacket’s defining feature — whether the garment be cut bespoke, or taken from the recently launched ready-to-wear line.
“Our armhole is very high and sits close to the body,” Massimo once explained in an interview with The Rake. “We create a soft, natural shoulder with very little padding, and shape the sleevehead using a form we call ‘Le Cigarette’.” Though, to the untrained eye, ‘Le Cigarette’ cosmetically resembles a British roped shoulder, its curvature is created using nothing but a little structural hand-wadding and the painstaking stretching and pressing of the cloth (rather than the actual rope insert that forms the basis of a rigid Savile Row roped sleevehead), resulting in not only a handsome raised line but greater freedom of movement — the perfect combination of form and function.
That signature sculpted shoulder, with an exceptionally high sleevehead angled in toward the sleekest chest in the sartorial universe; an abbreviated skirt; and majestically high-gorged, figure-hugging lapel… These iconic characteristics of a Cifonelli bespoke coat are shared by the house’s pret-a-porter jackets, designed by creative director John Vizzone.