The Italian Gentleman : The Preface

The Italian Gentleman : The Preface


Today I have the great joy to officially announce that my book "The Italian Gentleman" has finally made its way to the printer and that it will be available in bookstores (online or offline) around the world on October 26th.

The original edition of the book will be released in English both by my publisher Thames & Hudson in London, and also by Rizzoli in New York. Both editions are identical (except the image on the cover will vary slightly).

Book orders from Thames and Hudson will cover Europe, and the Middle/Far East--while orders from Rizzoli will cover mainly North America.Pre-orders are already available on Amazon (with pre-order discounts/prices guaranteed) : See

If you're interested, you may also visit you local online bookstore to see if you can pre-order a copy.

Different book signing events are already planned around the world. Most all event dates will be communicated in these columns starting in September.

Today I have the pleasure to share with you for the first time, the integrality of the preface of the book.

We hope to see you very soon face-to-face for the book signing in your country.


by Hugo Jacomet

Photography Lyle Roblin


This book is by far the longest and most demanding project I’ve had to undertake as an author and a chronicler of classic menswear. Maybe even as a man. Only the future will tell if I can surpass it in my lifetime. It was also the most exciting, the most complex and the most moving journey I’ve ever made.

I use the word ‘complex’ on purpose (as borrowed from the French sociologist Edgar Morin), because it is the most fitting term to describe the grandiose editorial project that has filled nearly three years of my life. When I accepted the challenge of giving an account of the exceptional contribution of Italy to contemporary men’s style, I was fully aware that a complicated task awaited me. But I could not have imagined quite how trying it would be to attempt to understand and, I hope, explain the many aspects of Italian style, its creative abundance and its genius, nor that it would require so many sacrifices.

I knew from the outset that I would need to spend some time on the other side of the Alps from my home in France, so as to deepen my knowledge of the Italian soul – although I thought I was already a connoisseur in the matter. After just a few weeks in Lombardy, Rome and the Bay of Naples, though, I realized that I had been not a little presumptuous, and that properly dealing with the subject would take some time. A lot of time, as it turned out.

At the beginning of 2015, as I was finishing my first book, The Parisian Gentleman, I was faced with two options. I could write the new book in my study in Paris, using the modern-day tools at my disposal (the internet and emails) and asking my talented friend Lyle Roblin, a Canadian by birth and adopted Milanese, to take the relevant pictures at the various houses and ateliers of my choice – tailors, shirt-makers, bootmakers and other specialists. Or I could take a chance and dive into an unreasonable adventure (unreasonable especially from an economic point of view), and write the book the old-fashioned way. I thought that would mean settling in Italy for a year or so with my dearly beloved wife, Sonya. In fact, it turned out to be almost three years, during which time I roamed relentlessly around the country in search of the best artisans, famed or unknown, easy to find or obscure.

The book you are reading is thus the result of three years of an immersion in the world of gentlemen and artisans: to wit, more than 100 workshops, boutiques, factories, warehouses and showrooms, which I visited one by one; more than 70 dinners, mostly gargantuan; at least 1,000 cups of ristretto, from Biella to Rome, Milan to Naples, Florence to Bologna; more than 15,000 photographs taken by my accomplice, Lyle Roblin, without whom this rather insane project could not have come to fruition; more than 4,000 kilometres (nearly 2,500 miles) travelled by car, train, plane, cab, Vespa and on foot throughout boot-shaped Italy; more than fifty houses carefully chosen, studied, pictured and chronicled in this beautiful book. I hope it will serve you as a worthy guide in the fascinating and sometimes dismaying labyrinth of Italian style.

In common with my previous volume, The Parisian Gentleman, this book does not claim to be a complete catalogue of all the Italian brands specializing in tailoring and shoemaking. Ten books would not be enough for that. Neither do I attempt to give a precise and academic historical account of tailoring in Italy, its roots and its character. It would take a lifetime to do that correctly.

Rather, this is the story of a journey to the heart of Italian elegance, one that became a personal journey in the most opulent showrooms as well as the most bare-boned workshops, the ritziest palaces and the dirtiest basements, the most surgically organized factories and the old boutiques of tailors who learned their trade in the 1920s or 1940s and still make exquisite clothes right there in their own living rooms. I have tried to make sense of this wild amalgamation of complex layers, a fabulous story that no one tells in quite the same way in Italy, and to turn it into a book.

It took all those three years to steer my way through a maze of personal stories, and that kind of experience makes you a different man. I feel I will never be the same again.

Finally – guess what – after spending six months in Naples, I can’t help but speak with my hands . . .

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The Italian Gentleman by Hugo Jacomet and Lyle Roblin.© Thames and Hudson. 304 pages, 447 original photos.

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