Gabriele Bertaccini loves food and fashion in equal parts -- as long as his food doesn't get on his fashion and his fashion doesn't interfere with his food.
Bertaccini moved to Arizona from Florence, Italy after graduating from culinary school. He says his hometown is where much of his style and culinary inspiration was born. Bertaccini currently runs a secret supper club and a catering company, Il Tocco. (He's also in the running for Arizona Foothills' Most Fashionable in the Valley Under 30.)
What are you wearing right now?
I am wearing a faded pair of skinny Diesel denims I bought eight years ago. I love denim; the more you wear it, the better it looks. And then, of course a custom-made white shirt, and a super comfortable pair of mustard yellow Yukenten by one of my favorite shoe designers, Cesare Paciotti. A slim-fitting suede leather jacket is on the couch. Too hot to wear now, but it completes the look.
What's the last item of clothing you bought?
A pair of Mark McNairy gray Oxford shoes. The sole comes in five different custom colors. Mine are dark blue. He just lunched his footwear label last January, and his collection has this inspiration of English-made shoes, but with a fun twist. I love the concept.
What is the item of clothing you most covet at the moment?
Well, more than "at the moment" I would say "during my lifetime." Let's say that I am a total addict when it comes down to men's suits. I love the look, I love wearing them, I love how they feel. To me nobody makes it better than Brioni.
A couple of years ago I inquired regarding buying a bespoke Brioni suit (where the suit is made from your measurements exclusively, from scratch) and then I realized they start around $10,000. One of their typical handmade suits would goes through 10 hours of sewing by hand, 18 hours of fine craftsmanship for buttons and so on, and 42 stages of ironing.
And to me there is nothing that represents the good life, suave charm, poise, elegance and distinctive individuality like a suit from Brioni.
Give us a childhood memory of you and your clothes...
...funny enough I hated dressing up when I was a child. Every Sunday morning before going to church, my mom was trying to make me wear dress pants, shirt, and shoes. When she left me alone, I would undress and put all the clothes away. I hated feeling constrained.
But I also always had a passion for beauty and beautiful things. I think that growing up in one of the most charming cities in the world, Florence, Italy, played a huge role in the love I have for fashion and elegance. Everywhere you go in Florence you see beautiful people, with tailored pants, hand-made shirts, and colorful jackets. Even the guy who makes your cappuccino in the morning wears Armani ties and Ferragamo shoes. You are in an environment that promotes the creation of beautiful things and inspires you.
I remember spending a crazy amount of time looking at fashion magazines and beautifully crafted suits or hand-made shoes. It was my way of finding inspiration for what in a few years would have been my future career as a chef.
Food and fashion have their trends and often times they are interconnected.
Name five items every man should have in his closet ...
I would have changed the question to "10 items" ...
1. A Navy Suit: solid or pinstripe, two or three buttons, single breasted or double breasted, it doesn't matter. This is the perfect suit for practically all scenarios. There is a reason why It is called the "suit of confidence." Remember, 'custom' is the magic word here.
2. White Dress Shirt: 100 percent cotton, of course. It feels much better and it also breathes. To be honest you should have more than one in your closet (last time I counted, I had 12) because this is not an item to wear more than once. If you can't afford having it made based on your measurements, just have it tailored based on your body.
3. The everyday and every occasion cashmere blazer in black, navy or gray.
4. Classic straight-leg denim in dark indigo, think of Diesel or Gucci. Do not wash them more than three or four times a year (I know ... it doesn't sound right, but otherwise they will lose their color)
5. A cashmere v-neck sweater can be casual or more formal depending on what you pair it with.
And if I may.. let me give you a sixth one..
6. A signature fragrance - scent is the sense most linked to memory, and a fragrance that is entirely you is the best way to be remembered and recognized. Every time I go back to Paris I have mine exclusively made at "Les Salons du Palais Royal Shiseido", an incredible fragrance boutique located in the historic Palais Royal in Paris.
Name an item of clothing that's best when it's vintage ...
Anything in leather. Florence is famous for producing the best leather in the world. When I go back I always end up buying a leather travel bag or, even better, a leather jacket. I love the smell of it, and the more you use it the better it looks. It is a MUST!
Name an item of clothing you should NEVER buy used ...
Let's put it out there. Not a big fan of used clothes, and in all honesty I've never bought any used clothes, mainly because everyone has a different fitting, so it would be extremely difficult to find somebody with my same exact measurements.
Anyhow, I think that shoes would be a big NO! Shoes take the shape of your feet and it can actually be very unhealthy to wear something that doesn't adapt perfectly to your own shape.
What's your one piece of fashion advice for Phoenix?
When I first moved to Phoenix, I remember realizing very quickly how informal people dress here. Being used to wearing a suit, shirt and tie almost every day I couldn't believe my eyes when I saw people dining at restaurants in flip flops and shorts. In Europe they wouldn't even allow you in.
We know it's hot people, but that doesn't mean you need to look like you just came back from the beach, especially because we unfortunately don't have one!
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So my modest advice would be to prefer a casual, elegant look, comfortable but always sharp and to the point.
Wear light colors, buy 100 percent cotton so that you won't be too hot, buy a cool deconstructed jacket to wear during the day and night alike, press your shirts and please ... no flip flops or shorts at dinner. In fact, no flip-flops at all unless you are walking your dog by the beach.
A pair of nice denim, good quality shoes, a white, cotton sweater and a good pair of sunglasses, and of course a classic watch can go a long way. You do not need Swarovski on your shirts, nor do you need printed crosses or skulls.
If I may quote one of my European friends, Plato, "Beauty of style and harmony and grace and food rhythm depend on simplicity."