In the whole world the word ” lawyer “ signifies a profession. In Italy the same word identifies a man . The lawyer Gianni Agnelli .
Giovanni Agnelli was born in on March the 12th, 1931 by Edoardo Agnelli , son of John “Mr. FIAT ” , and Virginia Bourbon del Monte ,originating from Tuscany and Umbria. As the favourite nephew, he grew up with the awareness of belonging to a prominent family, very rich and above many others.
So , at the turn of the forties and fifties , Gianni starts to become familiar with what he himself will define as the passions of his youth : fast cars , the green carpet and beautiful women. Befriending the playboys of the time, that will accompany him during his adventures in Italy and beyond , he set his base on the French Riviera : “Bachelor , with an annuity , in the fifties , of more than six hundred million lire”, as described by Enzo Biagi, “he has a personal plane , a yacht , and all that is needed , in short , to get noticed . “
Lover of beautiful cars as well as beautiful women : among his lovers a mention goes to the beauty of Anita Ekberg . “A woman has to be conquered according to Gianni” said his wife, Marella Caracciolo di Castagneto. Even President Saragat made fun of his ways with women: ” Now that you’re the president of FIAT dear Gianni, you can no longer woo the girls ! ” l’Avvocato and promptly replied : ” Then I shall resign immediately .”
L’avvocato gets married on November the 19th, 1953 with Princess Marella Caracciolo di Castagneto , in the castle of Osthofen , near Strasbourg . The couple will build an international reputation , traveling to the most important and exclusive capitals and destinations , filling the houses of Turin , Rome and New York with paintings and works of art of high value , weaving friendships at the highest levels .
The Houses where the Agnelli are regularly invited are those of Kennedy , Onassis , Rockefeller , Rothschild , Ford , Thyssen , Sachs , Kissinger , while both are set in the world rankings of the best-dressed , reaching an unprecedented popularity .
His mannerisms became a model for many : the clock above the cuff , the tie over the sweater and the Brooks Brothers’ botton-down shirt. A crown wasn’t needed to be at the top: the Agnelli spouses were often compared to the Kennedys . Both are modern , elegant , rich , full of taste and glamor ; both are unfaithful husbands , whose wives are equally patient.
In the 70s Fiat plunges into its dark period , debt and strong labor tensions , but despite this the couple Gianni/Marella doesn’t lose appeal . Gianni becomes an idol , an example to follow for thousands of rampant yuppies : in 1975 his relaxed and tanned face ends up on the covers of magazines 11 times.
He’s also praised by the international press : for Paris Match he has ” the image of a leader ” ; Life sees in him ” the character of Julius Caesar ” ; for Stern he’s “the last gentleman of Italy “ . Even Enzo Ferrari and Federico Fellini have good words for him, a trio that Enzo Biagi defines “the only three exportable italians”.
On the 24th of January 2003 Gianni Agnelli died of a tumor in his historic hilltop residence of Villar Perosa.
The clock above the cuff .
Legend has it that , during a meeting , a button of his shirt’s cuff. So as not to stay with the cuff fluttering under his jacket , he decided to move the clock above it , to hold it .
Rumors however , say that being the Avvocato a very stingy man , he could have put the watch on the cuff so as not to ruin the watch itself.
Legend or not, the watch above the cuff characterizes the figure of the lawyer .
His preferred time pieces were the IWC Portofino with moon phases , the Rolex Daytona to follow his beloved Ferrari and Omega Ploprof , a huge diving watch.
The Day, the Evening , Night.
” Grey for the day , Blue for the evening . Easy .” This was the answer that every single journalist heard as a reply to the question ” What colors do you wear, avvocato?”.
Wintery flannel , four-seasons wool , carded wool , tasmania , pinstripe or solid , the important thing is that when the sun shines high in the sky , the suit is gray . While , when the moon dazzles in the middle of the night , the color to be clad in is blue.
A trademark of Mr.Agnelli’s suits are the wide lapels , peak (his favourites) or notch . These works of art of haute couture were created by the brothers Giulio and Tommaso ( Tommy ) Caraceni of Rome , and the more traditional needle of H. Huntsman & Sons , at 11 Savile Row , where he often met the Windsors.
As for the evening attire , he was among the very first to use navy blue as a colour for a tuxedo . The cuts were different: traditional , single-breasted with or without a shawl collar , or more specifically, the classic double-breasted.
L’avvocato was not only a precursor regarding its savoir faire , his savoir vivre , his savoir habiller , but also from the standpoint of the footwear . He was indeed the first to wear Driving Shoes , moccasins , importing the famous rubber sole from America to Italy . The creator of his models was Davide Miserocchi , eponymous shoe factory in the area of Domodossola .
In addition to moccasins , Gianni wore comfortable shoes , round and with a classic english shape. He was known for being able to perfectly match a formal suit with casual boots , soft shoes that he was forced to wear in order to be at ease as a result of the many accidents that had left his leg injured.
The suit that emphasizes the essence of the avvocato is definitely the solaro . Sewn in his image and likeness by the skilled hands of the brothers Tommaso and Giulio Caraceni in Rome , this suit underlined the figure of mr.Agnelli .
His shirts of choice were either made by Brooks Brothers or by Finollo , on more formal occasions .
The tie , never tied to perfection but always in a hurry , is by the able hands of Turnbull and Asser in Jermyn Street , London. Obviously , along with the wonders of Turnbull ,he also wore the unique creations of the great Eugenio Marinella .
The “leisure time avvocato” is usually wrapped in a cloth Jeans . Truth be told, this fabric has always marked the free time of Gianni . At the stadium , while watching his beloved Juventus , he wore a washed Levi’s’ denim shirt supported , because of the cold of the Sundays in Turin , by a sleeveless bodywarmer . The vest was normally Fay or Paragon , a New York shop whose products were loved by him.
The denim shirt will be the weapon of choice of Gianni Agnelli seasons throughout the course of his life . Soft collar, chest pockets , rigorously washed , never failed to accompany him on all holidays, from the seaside to the countryside , all the way through the mountains .
The mountains will see Agnelli as a keen skier , but always wrapped in a denim shirt , worn over a cashmere turtleneck . The avvocato was used to ski in Cortina , St. Moritz or Sestriere . This last location was established , as a ski resort and tourism location, by his grandfather Giovanni around the 30s .
Not avaialble .
P.S. If he was truly forced into wearing one, he normally went for Vilebrequin.
Love him or hate him , l’Avvocato has left an indelible mark in our nation and in the world .
Federico Lapo Bonini