Through a bit of luck, I’ve managed to start writing for The Rake. My first two features are on Napoli Su Misura, a relatively new bespoke tailoring house, and Mario Talarico, a third-generation umbrella craftsman who still makes things by hand. You can read both stories in upcoming issues this summer.
I was able to commission custom-made pieces from both makers last time I was in Naples. From Napoli Su Misura, an unstructured, single-breasted navy sport coat with two patch pockets, barchetta breast, and spalla camicia sleeves. From Talarico, the navy dotted umbrella built on a single, chestnut stick, which you see below. The bark has been left on the handle to retain the wood’s natural beauty, but the shaft has been shaved to give the umbrella a slimmer profile when it’s furled.
You can read about the umbrella’s construction and Talarico’s shop in the upcoming issue of The Rake. In the meantime, I thought I’d share some thoughts about regional speciality shops. As my friend Réginald-Jérôme de Mans once wrote at A Suitable Wardrobe, “There seem to be fewer desirable items unique to a place […] nowadays almost everything is available on Google for comparison shopping, flipped on eBay by some enterprising parallel importer or made especially for discount sale through Gilt.”
Not so with Talarico. I’ve been trying to get one of their umbrellas as a gift for Jesse Thorn, my colleague at Put This On, for a full six months. It was supposed to be a Christmas present (yes, it’s now summer, and he lives in Los Angeles). After having discussed the delivery with Mario Talarico Junior in person, over the phone, and through email, I’ve yet to persuade him to make the trip to FedEx and deliver Jesse a black and green block-stripe umbrella decorated with thin orange pencil stripes (surprise, Jesse; now you know what your gift was supposed to be).
I admit I’ve been feeling a bit irked by the process. On the other hand, it’s nice that there are still a few things left in the world that are unique to a place - things that can only be had if you travel to where they are made. Well, things besides cheap chotchkies. All the best umbrella makers, from Italy to England, sell their products globally now. The only exception is Mario Talarico, who will only sell you an umbrella if you travel to Naples and find his small workshop in that Byzantine labyrinth known as the Spanish Quarter. I suppose I’m dismayed that Mario won’t send my friend an umbrella, but the fact that he won’t is what makes his umbrellas a bit more special to me than any of the other makers.
Anyway, on to another gift idea. I know a guy in New York …
(Photos below by Edwin Zee)
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- edwinhu said: wow holy shit. congratulations on writing for The Rake!
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- thesilentist said: That umbrella was truly amazing stuff.
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- thetellersoundsthealarm said: what are some good umbrella makers in new york? something both stylish and very sturdy? (i see a lot of sad abandoned inside-out umbrellas during windy storms.)
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