The best sartorial addresses in Venice: Lee Osborne for Plaza Uomo magazine
Ever since Marco Polo inaugurated the silk route linking Venice and the East, the city has been a byword for style
Atelier Segalin di Daniela Ghezzo
Having served her apprenticeship under the the great ‘Cobbler of Venice’, the late Rolando Segalin, Daniela Ghezzo continues his great shoemaking legacy. A visit to her quaint atelier in idyllic Calle dei Fuseri allows you to witness first hand the exquisite artistry that goes in to making a pair of bespoke handmade shoes. Of the 250 or so models handcrafted here per year, some of the most interesting creations are on display in the window. From stately grey suede and black leather buttoned boots that evoke yesteryear dandyism to brown leather split-toes. A pair of Ghezzo’s creations will set you back around €2800 that involve around 6 days of meticulous handwork.
Calle dei Fuseri, San Marco 4365, 30124 Venezia
Tessitura Luigi Bevilacqua S.r.l.
A visit to this ethereal Venetian weaver in Santa Croce, with its creaky floors and dusty air, is prerequisite for those that worship the cloth. Since 1875, family-owned Luigi Bevilacqua have specialised in the production of exquisite yarns that have decorated everything from royal palaces to the black velvet used on traditional Gondalier’s slippers. Witness original looms once owned by the same Venetian School of Silk that Napolean closed when he captured and invaded the city in the early 19th-century. Bevilacqua operates on a Jacquard system – an intriguing invention that simplifies the process of weaving complex patterns like brocade and damask. Invented by Frenchman Joseph-Marie Jacquard in 1804, it utilses a system of cards punched with multiple holes. These are laced together in to a continuous sequence that correspond to each row on the design. In short, it was one of the world’s first computers and to witness the fruits of the loom first hand, is truly spellbinding. It has to be seen to be believed.
Croce 1320 30135, Venezia
T Fondaco dei Tedeschi Department Store
Quite possibly the most aesthetically beautiful department store in the world situated right next to Rialto Bridge. Once the headquarters of the Fugger empire, the city’s German merchants from the 11th-century, now remastered by architect Rem Koolhaas, Tedeschi opened to considerable acclaim in 2017. Its ‘palazzo meets New York loft’ appearance showcases a jaw-dropping atrium, and sensational courtyard of cascading balconies that includes a dedicated floor of predominantly high end Italian menswear. British Architect James Fobert, famed for his work at Selfridges, was responsible for the interiors – designing carpets, tapestries and fixtures which lend a warm, lived-in quality to compliment the multiple-arched terrazzo backdrop. Check out the panoramic views of the Grand Canal from its stunning rooftop terrace, or sip a cocktail in Amo’s bar. The Palazzo even has its own gondola docking stations for shoppers that wish to arrive in style.
Calle del Fontego, 30124 Venezia
The Merchant of Venice Flagship Store
Housed in the former apothecary of San Fantin, in the shadow of the glorious La Fenice Opera House, The Merchant of Venice is a proper old school perfumery, its gracious interior exudes a grandeur of Neo-Gothic proportions – a medley of artistry chiselled from the very finest walnut and terracotta. The mid-17th century palazzi is a veritable assault of the senses, a congregation of exquisite potions that reference the city’s fabled past, when merchants garnered exotic elixir and spices from the major trading hubs of the world. The bottles and packaging are as exquisite as the fragrances they contain, indeed many are crafted from the world-renowned Murano glass, produced on a neighbouring island on the Venetian Lagoon.
@_themerchantofvenice_ ; themerchantofvenice.com
San Marco, 1895 (Campo San Fantin)
Owners Massimo and Attilio Vio’s lifelong affinity for luxury tailored menswear saw them set up their small, but perfectly formed store in a quiet side street just a stone’s throw from the hustle and bustle of Piazza San Marco in 1995. Fabio Vaccher, their immaculately suited and booted business partner, is a big believer in the importance of origin and tradition in menswear. ‘Made in Italy’ is engrained in to the brand’s DNA and is evidenced in the brands that grace the shelves – a bona fide who’s who of the country’s premium sartoria. From close-by Veneto there’s Belvest (see further below) and Slowear Venezia, to those further afield like Barba, Finamore Napoli, Herno and Cantarelli to name but a few.
San Marco, 1279 – 30124 Venezia
Tabarro San Marco di Monica Daniele
For over 20 years the inimitable Monica Daniele has specialised in the production of tabarri (traditional Venetian cloaks, fashioned out of merino wool or cashmere, which European Diplomats drape over the shoulders of their tuxedos). Having graduated from art school, she took it upon her self to recover what she calls the ‘lost styles of Venetian tailoring’. The late Steve Jobs of Apple was so enamoured by their quality that he purchased one. But she’s known for her chocolate box assortment of hats too, and is thankful to the elderly ladies of Venice who would call in to her store in the early days in search of hats to protect them from the elements. Everyone walks everywhere in Venice – exposed to the cold in winter and the intense sun in the warmer months. The iconic Tricorno Veneziano hat (the Venetian tricorn) is one of her best sellers as well as a fine collection of Panamas.
@tabarrosanmarco ; monicadaniele.com
San Polo 2235, Calle del Scaleter, 30125 Venezia
Bisnonni Clothing Vintage Parlor
Vintage menswear was hard to come by in Venice, until this gem of a boutique popped up in the laid-back neighbourhood of Santa Croce. Bisnonni Clothing is a living, breathing example of how a vintage store should look, and a great reflection on Paolo, the store owner’s personal taste. While he’s the kind of guy that doesn’t believe in the concept of set opening times, do persevere. He may well pop next door to get you a coffee or glass of wine for your trouble. In the meantime, you’ll find a masterfully curated selection of goods ranging from classic military field jackets, Levi’s jeans, Burberry trench coats in all manner of fabrics to Gucci loafers – and what’s more, you’re left to browse totally unhindered.
2120, Santa Croce, Venezia
Located beneath the arches of Rialto Bridge, the store derives its name from the original founder of Al Duca D’Aosta, Emilio Ceccato. The Venetian brand signed a sponsorship deal with the Gondolier Association of Venice in 2015, a first of its kind in over a 1,000 years, to both provide and license the official apparel of the city’s iconic Gondaliers. The two parties created an official logo that depicts St Mark as the Winged Lion holding an open book – a symbol of peace and strength, framed by two ferro – the traditional iron gondola prow ornament. The oval emblem graces everything from ribbed-collar striped wool sweaters and polo shirts to an assortment of stylish leisurewear. What’s more, all proceeds from the sale of clothing will be donated to projects that will help safeguard the future of the gondolier trade.
Venice Gondolier Association, Exclusive supplier technical clothing
Sestiere S.Polo 16/17 30125 Venice
While the art of glovemaking has declined elsewhere in Europe, it continues to thrive in Italy. Fanny Guanti is one such example – brainchild of Giorgio Fontanive, son-in-law of a Neapolitan glovemaking magnate whose inheritance continues to bear fruit. He’s been selling colourful handmade gloves crafted from the finest hides to local Venetians, and tourists alike, since he opened his matchbox-sized store in 2001. Theatrically staged mannequined gloves form magnificent tromphe l’oeil effects in the shop’s windows – as though they are waving to passers by. It’s Venice afterall. Choose from lambskin, kid, deerskin or boar paired with extravagant cashmere, silk or rabbit fur linings.
Tel: 041 52 28 266
Calle dei Saoneri – Campo San Polo 2723
Barena’s flagship store is a homage to masterful unstructured tailoring, housing reinterpretations of unique garments unearthed in museums, books and antique prints that depict a bygone era of everyday life on the Lagoon. Founded by Sandro Zara in 1961, the brand’s iconic silhouetted emblem of a gondalier encompasses its traditionally durable workwear, from blazers and shawl collar knits to pop-over shirts and twill chinos, with a modern aesthetic twist always in evidence.
Calle Minelli, 4260/B, 30124 Venezia
Pot Pourrì Venezia Uomo
A more serene location for a menswear store you could not find. Pot Pourrì, located in grandiose Palazzo Regina Vittoria, on Ramo dei Fuseri, is one of the most romantic corners of the city. Formerly Goethe’s residence in Venice, owner Marina has invested her trust in son-in-law Fabio to head-up the menswear arm of the business. Pot Pourrì’s rails are a riot of colour with eye-popping yellow and green Casentino topcoats, Neapolitan denim from E. Marinella and luxe shirting from the likes of Vanacore and Barba. Pot-Pourrì’s devotion to quality has led them to conceive a collection under their own label, predominantly handmade and Made in Italy. From here it’s only a short walk to shoemaker Daniela Ghezzo.
Ramo dei Fuseri, 1811 M, 30124 Venezia
It’s refined elegance from the moment you walk in to Antico Martini, akin to dining on the Venice Simplon Orient Express – it rekindles the romance of the rails and transports you back to the golden age of travel without ever pulling out of the station. A Venetian institution since 1720, it was around even before Gran Teatro La Fenice. Dine in the intimate surrounds of The Cherubini – described as ‘one of the most beautiful and characteristic restaurant rooms in all Italy’ – Giuseppe Cherubini’s lavish paintings keep a watchful eye as you feast on convivial delights like Scorpion fish ravioli served with ratatouille washed down with local Soave. Current owner Lino Lando is keen to ensure the unique nuances and flavours of the great Serenissima period are upheld. Unmissable.
Campo Teatro Fenice, 2007, 30100 Venezia
In the vicinity
Belvest Factory Outlet, Padua
If you’re in town on a weekend, a detour to neighbouring Padova, a 40-minute drive inland from the Lagoon, affords considerable sartorial bounty from one of Italy’s most revered menswear brands, Belvest, founded by Venetian entrepreneur Aldo Nicoletto in 1964. The Belvest Factory Outlet offers discounts of up to 50% off the original RRP, with every detail from the shoulders to the buttonholes of each handcrafted item hand-stitched, naturally. Open Saturday’s only and the last Sunday of every month 08.30-12.30pm.
Via Corsica 55, Piazzola sul Brenta, 35016 Padova, Veneto
*First published in Plaza Uomo magazine, Sweden.