Luxury Safes brings you the history of Rubinacci, the most renowned bespoke tailor in Naples.
Never lie to your tailor. Armed with a tape measure, he knows your body better than you do. He sees it with almost X-ray vision, noting with clinical accuracy that your left arm is an inch longer than your right, or that your right shoulder slopes a half-inch more than your left.
A true bespoke suit is cut entirely by hand, a process that at Rubinacci requires 54 man-hours and is based on a paper pattern cut specifically for you. The Rubinacci family has been in the bespoke business since 1932, when Gennaro Rubinacci, an art collector with society connections, established the company, dubbing it “The London House” to remind customers of Savile Row.
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“Bebè,” as he was known, had a radical idea: to make unstructured, unlined jackets meant to be worn out of the office. He hired tailors to follow his direction and used English fabrics for suits and sport coats that felt entirely new to his Italian customers.
The designs took off, and his clients were some of the most stylish men in the country, including filmmaker Vittorio De Sica and Curzio Malaparte, the journalist whose modernist Capri house was featured in the Jean-Luc Godard film Le Mépris. When Bebè’s son, Mariano, took over in the early 1960s, he renamed the company Rubinacci but continued the London House style. It’s defined by its high armholes (elegant in appearance, comfortable in practice), minimal construction (for a natural fit, as opposed to the more formal British jacket), and coveted soft shoulders.
There are many great suitmakers in Naples—Kiton, Isaia, Cesare Attolini—but Rubinacci sets itself apart in a distinct way. The company can make a bespoke suit, at a starting price of $5,480, in about a week. It’s not something that’s advertised or promoted. Turning around a handmade suit that quickly requires the concerted attention of jacket and trouser cutters who work more than five hours a day over that week on a single suit.
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Rubinacci can make a suit without the second fitting, but it’s a good idea to have one. The buttons are sewn; the lapels are cut. We admire the handwork visible in the buttonholes—they stand up higher, and each stitch can be seen individually—as opposed to the uniform, flat feel of machine-made ones.
As he says, “When a gentleman comes to Rubinacci, we try to discover the style he has inside.”