More so than perhaps any other nation in Europe, the good people of Italy have embraced the idea of the ‘piccolo maestro’, the ‘small masters’: pockets of family-run tailors that populate the different districts of every cosmopolitan city, quietly serving a loyal local clientele. Such modest enterprises are a far cry from the grand international ateliers of Rubinacci, arguably the king of Italian tailors. The question of how Rubinacci won this crown, and how they propose to protect it, is a fascinating one, best explored from the comfort of their newly acquired Milanese flagship.
When entering the store, one can’t help but feel one is tip-toeing through a Neapolitan pantheon of style, a temple to menswear the likes of which Hadrian himself (by all accounts the most fashionable of the Roman Emperors) would have bowed down to — the epicentre of what, with the establishment of this third store (the other two are in London and Naples), can now be called a truly international menswear brand.
The shop continues through chamber after chamber, walls washed in a sunny shade of saffron, ending with a club-like room filled with easy chairs and a drinks cabinet. This place feels like the heart of the atelier, a space to collapse and refresh when the process of thumbing through swatch-books simply becomes too much to bear.
This room also perfectly characterises the personality of the Rubinacci family: for all its imposing grandeur, this is an intimate space — the Rubinaccis wanted a room where men could come to relax and feel a part of this extraordinary sartorial vision. “So the customer can come and enjoy five minutes with Rubinacci,” as Luca puts it. Indeed, this is precisely what The Rake is doing, having made a pilgrimage to Milan in an attempt to discover the secret of the Rubinaccis’ success — to unravel what has transformed this once modest Neapolitan tailor into an international luxury menswear brand.