Ciro Palestra, head tailor of Neapolitan haute couture garment house KITON, reveals the secrets of true elegance.
KITON as in chiton, the Ancient Greek garment?
Precisely. The word comes from Ancient Greek and it is a reference to the greatness of the Greek civilization. The founder of the Napoli brand loves the country dearly, admires the Ancient Greek language and found the word “chiton” very fitting for his company. A chiton/kiton is a fluid piece of fabric that you wear – it doesn’t wear you. KITON is sculpted on you, almost flowing on your body.
Every piece is bespoke; made for a specific client and a specific purpose, specific seams, every single detail.
What is KITON’s biggest strength?
Our exceptional textiles that ensure elegant results – and of course our tailors, who work only by hand. These people love the fabric, respect it, caress it; they know it like the palm of their hands and treat it with reverence. Their garments are their children. This isn’t machine-made clothing. Every piece is bespoke; made for a specific client and a specific purpose, specific seams, every single detail. Our founder has deep love for the craft, he’s dedicated his life to it. He started with ten tailors forty years ago. The company now has 200 craftsmen who complete every order by hand, as well as an entire school. Structural quality, quality textiles and family tradition are the cornerstones of KITON. I’m part of the second generation of tailors and my son is in the third. He just graduated from school and he’s already in training at a company that knows how to progress while upholding its tradition.
Do Greeks have strength of opinion or do they leave choices to you out of insecurity?
They know what they want to create, but they’re very happy, of course, to hear my suggestions. When they want a bespoke item of clothing, each man has a plan: they know their options, they’ve studied catalogs and fashion trends but they are still faithful to an elegance that is confident and not loud.
Although Americans have stepped up their style, Europe boasts depth and culture of fashion.
You travel the world to satisfy your bespoke orders. Apart from Italy, which country have you found to stand out in terms of style?
Although Americans have stepped up their style, Europe boasts depth and culture of fashion. Greece follows after Italy and third, in my opinion, comes Germany. Many would expect me to say Great Britain, but I think they’re just too traditional. Germans have evolved. They try to take the best they can from Italians, from wine and food to clothing and style.
What type of person wins you over?
I like clients with whom I can develop a relationship of mutual trust, which means I can create with them. Those who open up to me and have an active role in the process so I can make a piece of clothing that will satisfy them fully.
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