Renato Ciardi, who sadly passed away last year, was truly one of the greats of Neapolitan tailoring, heading up venerable outfit Sartoria Ciardi. Succession planning is rarely one of a bespoke tailor’s strengths, but fortunately the Ciardi family began preparing for this eventuality many years ago, and Renato’s son Enzo Ciardi has been the head cutter for some time.
I met Enzo in Naples when I was commissioning Sartoria Ciardi to make me a suit (from €3,200), and am now, with the news that the tailor is starting to visit London, (the next visit is due in the second week of February) talking to him about a commission for a sports jacket.
The Ciardi atelier is on the mezzanine level of a relatively new block on Via Giuseppe Fiorelli, in the middle of the historic centre of Naples. The atelier itself is filled with history, though, with Renato’s awards and photographs of the great man around the walls, and two rows of historic irons on facing tables.
As a visitor to a famous tailoring house you secretly hope for these little things – souvenirs and ornaments that make its history manifest. It shouldn’t matter – it should be the product that counts – but it is a pleasurable part of the experience nonetheless.
Downstairs there is a workshop (some work is done off site) with space both for Enzo and Roberto, the cutters, and five coatmakers. The Ciardi style is pretty typically Neapolitan: a very soft canvas on the shoulder, a broad lapel, and curved and open fronts for double-breasted styles. The shoulder is not extended, tending to have a “shirt shoulder” construction, and is finished with subtle roping or ripples where the cloth is gathered at the top of the sleeve.
One thing the Ciardis always do is cut the canvas of their chest on the bias, which gives it greater stretch and therefore comfort. This is something not all Neapolitan tailors do, and that only Anderson & Sheppard and a small number of other tailors do in the UK.
I’m looking forward immensely to my jacket, and given my previous experience with the suit, can highly recommend the Ciardi cut.