This is a jacket by Renato Ciardi, one of the many famous tailors in Naples, Italy. If you know a little bit about the jacket, you can read a lot of the history of Neapolitan tailoring in the garment. You see, Ciardi was trained under Angelo Blasi, who is this man.
In the early 20th century, Blasi was one of the most famous tailors in Naples, but not for making the unstructured, soft shouldered Neapolitan cut we understand today. Instead, he made his version of a British jacket – a structured coat with padded, narrow shoulders. You can see it in the picture, in fact, though the particular jacket he’s wearing doesn’t have very narrow shoulders. Still, the shoulders are squared off and you can tell that the jacket is not terribly lean.
So how did the Renato Ciardi, an apprentice of Angelo Blasi, end up making this?
The jacket looks nothing like what Blasi would train someone in. The shoulders are unpadded and sloping. It’s much more “natural looking” than Blasi’s cut, conforming more to the wearer’s body and giving a soft, casual feel. It’s also a bit trimmer in the body.
The answer is in Vincenzo Attolini, a contemporary of Angelo Blasi, who worked as the main cutter at London House, a tailoring shop run by Gennaro Rubinacci. Where Blasi made a Neapolitan version of a British suit, Attolini revolutionized the Neapolitan suit. He borrowed a technique from Domenico Caraceni, a Roman tailor who was making suits with softer lines, and brought it to Naples. Attolini took out all of the structure in the British jacket and made it much more distinctive. Here’s an example of one of his jackets.
This is the Neapolitan style – or some would even say Italian style – that we know today. It’s soft, unstructured, and feels very casual. The shoulders are also a bit extended, more so than what Blasi used to cut. This style has been popularized by many other tailors, including those that didn’t train under Attolini. Renato Ciardi, in fact, is a perfect example. Here is a tailor who was trained under the Italian-British style of Blasi, but ended up with an Attolini cut. In the history of Italian tailoring, it’s hard to name someone who casts a bigger shadow than Vincenzo Attolini.