Sunday, June 01, 2008

Florence: Liverano, Cisternino and Madova

I've written previously on my recent London, Paris and Vienna trips and now it's time for Italy beginning with Florence.  I had originally planned to visit four tailors in Firenze but only two were open: Liverano & Liverano and Cisternino. 


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Liverano & Liverano

Liverano & Liverano was first up since it was closest to the train station in Florence. I was greeted by the office manager, a Japanese fellow named Takahiro Osaki. He spoke a bit of English and took off his brown, two button Shetland wool jacket to show me the details, styling and cut. It is essentially a Neapolitan cut less the shoulder extension and front drape (Apparently, this is a cut that would fall under the Blasi school of Neapolitan tailoring). The shoulder has no padding, the front quarters are highly open (perhaps the most cutaway I've seen anywhere) and designed to show the trouser pleats.  The chest features a single chest dart. The jacket was cut on the shorter side and essentially everything is handsewn except the center back seam. 

Liverano & Liverano

I noticed there was no waterfall sleevehead on his jacket though the tailor does feature it on their shirts. Reflecting perhaps a Florentine restraint, Takahiro noted that the manica con grinze “looks too casual on a jacket.” So in the world of Liverano, the jacket sleeve is left smooth but the shirt takes the shirring. Indeed Takahiro was wearing such a shirt under his Shetland jacket.

This distinction is quite nice and refined I think. Liverano & Liverano observes a nuanced hierarchy of formality – construction method does not take precedence over an English-like sense of appropriateness. Instead of slapping a waterfall on every jacket and shirt sleevecap, this Florentine tailor orders and regulates the cut and construction in a sensible house style. This is similar to the Viennese tailor Knize which omits the crumpled sleevehead from their formal jackets. Although I generally agree with this aesthetic, I probably would still take the waterfall sleeve on a casual sports jacket or two!

Liverano & Liverano

Quite unusually, Liverano offers the full run of bespoke: ties, shirts, sports coats and suits. They prefer English cloths and seem especially to favor tweeds. I think it is safe to say they give Rubinacci a run for the money in providing an end-to-end bespoke offering.  Liverano might be more complete actually. 

They do not travel except to Japan (three times per year) in partnership with the retailer United Arrows. As expected, Takahiro pointed out that maestro Liverano does make adjustments to accommodate physical irregularities such as a slight rise or bump on the shoulder.  In Takahiro's case, the cloth along the shoulder seam from the neck to the shoulder bump is pressed and ironed to firm the cloth around the bump.

He made some interesting comments on other tailors, which he admires but thinks they fall short in some areas: Caraceni is “too old and traditional” (Takahiro showed some breezy, striped cotton jacketings that he said Caraceni would never carry) and Savile Row, which he likes but feels is too “old”. So what is Liverano & Liverano's style? “Contemporary classic,” says Takahiro.  This is an interesting challenge issued to the older tailoring establishments. Founded in 1948, the Liverano & Liverano aesthetic seems to say "I raise your emphasis on tradition and double down on being relevant to modern taste and style."

Piero & Franco Cisternino

Next up was Cisternino, tucked away in an alley off of Via della Vigna Nuova and situated - I noted with some apprehension - between Via dell' Inferno and Via del Purgatorio.  Perhaps this portended some sartorial abyss?  But fear not, what I encountered was closer to a tailoring Paradiso for the suitably inspired pilgrim. What immediately caught my eye was the display model in the shop window. The display jacket was showing the characteristic Neapolitan shoulder and sleevehead.

Piero & Franco Cisternino

Cisternino consists of two brothers, Piero and Franco.When I walked in, I was greeted by Franco, the non-English speaking half. Piero, the English speaking one, stepped out of the workroom to chat with me and we had a delightful conversation. It turns out he is originally from Naples and hence they make two types of sleeve attachment: Florentine and Neapolitan. For the Florentine style, the Cisternino brothers put in a little padding to keep the sleevecap from collapsing. We both had a good laugh when I joked that I could have a jacket made with one sleeve shirred in the Neapolitan style, the other Florentine. With bespoke, many things are possible.  But not all.  Piero doesn't like structured shoulders – “too military” he said with a good-natured smile.  

Each suit takes 40 hours to make and, if I understood correctly, the first fitting can take just 4-5 days. Piero showed me a couple of jacketing books from Scabal. All in all, he was exceptionally friendly and accommodating to my unannounced visit. 

The other two tailors I wanted to visit were closed for the weekend – Gianni Seminara and Armando di Preta. So I am left with just solitary photos of their doorways. 

Gianni SeminaraArmando di Preta


Thankfully Florence has a plenitude of wonderful stores and eating establishments to while away the time. Very few things exceed a leisurely stroll with a coppo of gelato in hand. During my visit, I also bought a couple of pairs of peccary gloves at Madova just off the Ponte Vecchio and fingerless driving gloves from Pusateri.  

Madova ivory peccary gloves 01

Madova ivory peccary gloves 03

Additional links (updated)
- Styleforum thread on Liverano
- Fellow blogger A visit to's report on Liverano (with lots more pictures)
- Styleforum thread on Florence hotels and RTW shops
- Florence tailors and clothing stores list
- Blogger Irenebrination's tribute to Florentine tailoring
- Styleforum thread on Liverano customer's fitting
- New photo essay book on Liverano & Liverano

Updated Jan 2011

8 comments:

Anonymous said...

I may be wrong here, but, to me, it was in really bad taste to denigrate another tailoring house, especially those as soried as the ones he mentioned. I doubt that the owners of the firm would have made such as gaffe...publicly.:)

sleevehead said...

Fear not, I'm confident the store manager did not intend to denigrate other tailors. First, keep in mind that his English was limited and I do not speak Italian. So we had a bit of a language muddle which does not favor nuances.

Second, he was trying to explain in limited English the differences between L&L and Caraceni, Savile Row, etc. He did express quite clearly that he likes and admires these other tailoring houses. But he also tried to explain the differences from his perspective. While one may disagree with his opinions, I do not think they are intended to disparage anyone.

Russ said...

Great blog-- can you comment on RTW stores in Florence you liked? I'd love to find a neopolitian style jacket in Florence this year during a short week long trip, not sure I can commission a bespoke piece. What were the prices like on Cisternino, however?

sleevehead said...

Russ, thanks for visiting. I'm afraid I didn't stop by too many RTW stores in Florence selling suits and jackets. In fact, I would be a little surprised if you find a properly fitting RTW Neapolitan jacket. Of course it depends on what you mean by "Neapolitan" but I suspect it'll be difficult to pull off unless you happen to fit the block pattern well.

The other, related issue is that there are not a lot of RTW makers a la napolitano. I believe Partenopea is one such brand available in the US.

I forgot to ask prices at Cisternino but I would drop by and ask for the latest pricing. They are a very friendly pair of tailors.

Anonymous said...

I think they should pay more attention when talking about Caraceni...Domenico Caraceni has been "the master", the chief and the revolutioner tailor on all italy..also next time you visit them remember him that the unlined cotton jackets with unlined sleeves has been invented by caraceni during the 30s.

sleevehead said...

Thank you for the comments! I would love to hear more about the origin of unlined cotton jackets from your perspective (especially since the Neapolitans seem to claim this invention as well ;)

Anonymous said...

Sleevehead, I think everyone will claim everything they want. However it is very well known that the neapolitan school had never been "deconstructed" although soft.
If you look a first fitting of a neapolitan jacket, this one will be full of bastings while the northern one will have few points of basting but very precise and neat because few basting stitches are necessary to mount the fronts.
With this, I am saying that the unlined sleeves never existed in naples in the early years, so it is something that was invented, domenico caraceni was named "the shirtmaker" because of its lightweight garments and the unlined sleeves...that says it all....if you have more questions lastchild44@yahoo.com

Gustaf said...

The unlined sleeve is a very particular option that I would do on every summer jackets. Actually I saw the unlining work from the Musella atelier in milan, it's impressive, no lining at all in the sleeves and the workmanship is master level.
Ordered a suit but my next summer jacket will be made there for sure. I would say go visit them and let us know what you think, would love to read something about those unlined sleeves.