In August (or as the Italian say: agosto) I visited Italy for two days after a nice trip to Serbia with friends. Two days is not enough to discover all the splendour Italy has in store for you. It’s a country that deserves a longer visit, but not in the hot holiday season. On Wednesday the 8th of August I met my tailor Giovanni “Gianni” Lovadina. He picked me up at my local B&B and drove me through Lecco and Como to eventually visit his sartoria in Desio. It’s fun and at the same time frightening to be the passenger when the driver is an Italian. The comparison between a formula 1 driver and a motorcyclist in a car is not far from the truth.
I met Gianni Lovadina first in July of 2017 when I commissioned a navy jacket and grey trousers. It was a nice experience, I didn’t speak Italian and Gianni didn’t speak anything else than Italian. But with some help of my hands and feet all went well. Of course with a first commission there are some things that need adjusting. Not only in fit but also in the style department. With the second commission he did understand my style and with his experience I knew I was in save hands. Gianni started his tailoring career when he was only thirteen years old. He lived in Varese at the time and got an apprenticeship with a pretty competent tailor. He worked really hard and after some time he started his own sartoria. Now he is 73 and still going strong. He doesn’t do all the tailoring himself: he only draws and cuts the pattern. He visits The Netherlands around four times a year. He also visits Gran Canaria and Monaco. Some time ago he also visited Poland. He stopped because the clients there were more concerned with over flooding him with Vodka. In September of 2018 it will be his 60th year as a tailor! He has an incredible “track record”, but the most important aspect is his genuine concern for his clients and his always cheerful mood.
After the trip by car we ended up in a small house, where I was greeted by one of Gianni’s tailors. Gianni has four tailors but only one was working. Because August is the holiday month in Italy, so the other tailors were enjoying their holiday. I of course was not there just to look at the work of a tailor. No, I had my second fitting (the Italians call this a prova) of my dark-grey suit.
When I first ordered the suit, I asked for a ‘Milanese’ cut, but with some small adjustments. I wanted wider, high-waisted trousers that would be supported by braces. When you get wider trousers you should be looking at balance between the coat (jacket) and the trousers. I also asked for a wider fitting coat. The coat has extended shoulders, wider chest and wider sleeves. At the first fitting/prova I asked for a higher armhole and slimming the trousers a tad at the thigh area. We also adjusted the sleeve length and the trouser length.
At the second fitting/prova Gianni looked at the fit of the armholes. There was little to no adjustment needed. The trousers where tightened at the waistband and we agreed to shorten the trouser legs. The back of the coat got some adjustments to reduce wrinkling between the shoulder blades. This was also the problem with my first coat from Gianni, he will adjust both coats.
Some people see fittings as a necessary evil. I see it as a magical experience where the vision of the tailor and the vision of the client meet and transect. For me the problem is always that I forget to look at all the important areas of fit. I have to learn a lot before I really feel comfortable at the fitting stage. For instance when I look at the pictures I can’t help but notice that the collar of the coat is not covering enough of my dress shirt collar. It’s a small thing, so not an important thing. Yet when you are as obsessed about the fit as I am you find that a bit irritating, but let’s be honest is that fun? NO, so I will let it slip and just enjoy the process. As long as I don’t forget it for the next commission.
I also got a tour around the sartoria. I looked at the cloth that was literally laying everywhere. My eyes fell on a really nice ‘khaki-brown’ coloured cotton fabric, it looked like a cavalry twill. When made up as a trouser it would look stunning. I asked if Gianni could make me a pair. He smiled and answered with a resounding yes. It will also be: wide legged, high-waisted, but not supported by braces but by belt. They will also get double pleats and an 5 centimetre -2 inch- cuff. I cannot wait for the fitting/prova in September!
After the fitting I and my friends went back to Como we visited the Duomo di Como. After some strolling around in 43 degrees Celsius – 109 degrees Fahrenheit – we went back to the car. A thirty minute ride we had some drinks and picked up Dario Lovadina, the younger brother of Gianni. He speaks German and Italian, so it’s easier to understand each other. We ended the evening at a small family run restaurant near Lecco. We had some lovely Risotto al persico (perch), a typical local dish. It was a really nice evening. That’s something I really cherish, the personal relationship between tailor and client. It’s from another world! I see the relationship between me and Gianni more as a friendship and that is invaluable.