Tailoring to perfection

An Artisan’s view
Franco Puppato, Master Tailor

Passion, talent and determination are what define the 60 year long career of Master Tailor Franco Puppato in Calle dei Fabbri, in the heart of Venice. Puppato’s suits are characterised by a distinct empathy and understanding of a customer’s psychology but also by the use of finely-tuned mathematical calculations: masterstrokes which earned him the Arbiter award, the Oscar of Italian tailoring. Using the finest materials from Italy, Scotland and England, Puppato lets his mantra “elegance made-to-measure” guide his work along the right path amongst a tide of serialisation and uniformity that flattens everything and stifles creativity.

An Artisan’s view
Franco Puppato, Master Tailor

How did you become involved in your craft in the first place?

It was my mother who first noticed my talent for sewing at an early age, and brought me to visit my uncle Ottavio, a tailor in Piazza dei Signori in Treviso. He introduced me to the extraordinary master tailor Antonio Napoliello, my core mentor and the star of national and international tailoring. His intelligence, technique and culture; as both a man and as a tailor, he was I would say: complete.

What is your favourite process within your craft?

Cutting the fabric, the origin of the suit, always fascinates me, because it represents the birth and development of the garment for the client’s body. My favourite technique passed on by my teacher is creating suits using trigonometry. A mathematical approach allows a young artisan to almost immediately acquire confidence within the profession, and in pursuing his artistic expressiveness.

Are you still learning as an artisan?

I started here in Venice in 1964 age 23, and though many springs have passed, I still qualify myself as a “rook-ie”, because I still have a long way to go. Using trigonometry in my work allows my knowledge to develop more and more and constantly allows me to incorporate new technical enlightenments. Wanting to honour Venice, I called my style the Goldonian Style, after the legendary Venetian playwright, which makes me feel more Venetian, even if I am only so by adoption.
Is there a specific tool, unique to your craft, that you have mastery over?

The ‘ironing mushroom’, almost never used by other tailors, is essential for pressing the armholes. I use it in my own particular ironing process to give a perfect line to the jacket. Having a mastery of the raw materials is equally important; wool, cashmere, silk and silver thread. Lately I have been making jackets with this extraor-dinary Vicuña material, one of the most interesting and delicate fabrics. Making garments takes a certain ef-fort, but when the result comes out perfectly, I feel like a king.

What do you see for the future of your craft?

Unfortunately, there are fewer and fewer ambassadors and craftsmen of the true Italian tailoring art, although paradoxically our skills are still highly valued and consequently taught abroad. Every moment of every day, my mind is on my successor. I would love to give all my knowledge to a talented and willing young artisan, who wants to take on my technique and passion.