To slip on your first jacket cut by Lorenzo Cifonelli and reflect upon the man starring back at you from the mirror is to be filled with the same emotion that Senator Giovanni Falier must have felt when he stepped onto his gardens in 1777 and witnessed the statues of Orpheus and Eurydice sculpted for him by Antonio Canova. As with Canova’s expressive ability with stone, Cifonelli is a man so unique in his ability to bring forth life from inanimate cloth that he seems to breathe the Ancient Greek concept of anima, or spirit, into his creations. And, like Canova, who was considered the greatest sculptor of the neoclassical period, Cifonelli’s influence in shaping the prevailing aesthetic of the global sartorial revival over the past decade has been so major you could even say he has defined it.
Look at the majority of stylish denizens plugged into the social media nerve centre and you’ll see innumerable examples of Lorenzo Cifonelli signature leitmotifs. He single-handedly reintroduced us to the wide full-bellied, high-gorged lapel. He is the man behind the greatest resurgence of the 6x1 double-breasted coat since Armani in the 1980s. The signature Cifonelli shoulder, which was invented by his grandfather to reconcile immaculate shape with mobility, has become so imitated that priapic facsimiles are found in pages of magazines and on websites and Instagram feeds the world over, as well as on the shop rails of multiple ready-to-wear brands. But at the same time it is Cifonelli who, like the first generation of jazz greats, is bending and redefining the rules of his medium. He is introducing streetwear materials and sportswear details and adaptability into the previously dusty realm of bespoke tailoring, and in doing so is connecting its values with an all new generation while also showing existing customers previously unimaginable possibilities.