Florence has a thing with purple sunsets. Perhaps it’s the time of year I’m there – most commonly for Pitti Uomo in January. Perhaps it’s the scope afforded them by the views across the broad river. Whatever the reason, the early evening always seems to be lit up by fingers of purple cloud, irradiated across a pale blue sky fading to pink. When looking the other way, across the old town, those colours serve to pick out the church steeples and edges of the magnificent dome of the cathedral, lending them rosy highlights.
It is a beautiful place to be. As an enthusiast for the most beautiful and best-made menswear in the world, the exhibits at Pitti Uomo usually enhance this feeling. But as reported previously in The Rake, this year’s Autumn/Winter show was a little underwhelming. Part of that was nothing to do with Pitti; it was more the contrast between the homogenous and mass-manufactured product that dominated the exhibition, and the craftsmen we visited in Florence itself.
A definite highlight among those craftsmen was Liverano & Liverano.
Antonio Liverano and his brother Luigi moved to Florence in 1948, aged 11, to learn bespoke tailoring, and the firm they subsequently built up has established an impressive reputation for a subtle Italian style and immaculate construction. Liverano is particularly popular in Japan, something very much helped by sales manager Takahiro Osaki, who has been with Liverano for nine years and is very involved with the ready-to-wear side of the business. Liverano is now stocked in five stores in Tokyo and Osaka.
Antonio is the only cutter at present, though he has a young apprentice he hopes to begin training as a cutter soon. It is, therefore, a small operation, with one large and airy cutting room looking out on a little garden courtyard and one room containing six tailors. Five others, though, work offsite exclusively for Liverano.
The reputation for quality is reflected in the price, with €4500 or £4280 the starting price for a suit. This is a slow, meticulous making process taking place on Via dei Fossi – a lovely Florentine side street. Although the shop used to be on Piazza Santa Maria Novella itself, this small and unassuming street suits the classic philosophy underpinning Liverano.
It would be a mistake, however, to think this a conservative establishment. While the style of Antonio’s suits is typical of the region, being soft without the unstructured excesses of Naples, the styling is frequently not. One look at his scarves could tell you that. They’ve got doughnuts on for God’s sake. Indeed, it is common to see Antonio sporting a classic suit with some subtle touches of colour, only to have the outfit zapped by a sherbet-bright scarf – as if to reassure the viewer that no one’s taking any of this too seriously.