50TH ANNIVERSARY FASHION SHOW:
Like many creative intellectuals past and present, Stefano Ricci understands the ability to reflect character through clothing. Rigid with standards and beliefs about masculinity, what separates this menswear brand from the rest, is that it’s not exceedingly conformist. The revolution in men’s fashion and cultural rethinking of masculinity paved the way for the most fabulous fashion show of all time.
Whether worn to work or off-duty, Stefano Ricci’s style is a means of self-expression. Stefano Ricci, the founder of the eponymous luxury menswear company, held a global fashion show to celebrate the brand’s 50th anniversary at the Temple of Hatshepsut in Luxor, Egypt. The presentation was a tribute to historic Ancient Egypt, representing a spiritual pursuit of fine craftsmanship and excellence.
It’s no coincidence that Ancient Egypt’s most important archeological location recently experienced a new wave of fashion explorers. Mr. Ricci has always been an advocate for the preservation of artistic, historical, and cultural heritage. Over 50 years, his deep gratitude for protecting and passing on ancient knowledge has given VIP guests and fashion journalists hands-on experience to join the exploration.
Mr. Stefano Ricci has always had an affinity for Ancient Egypt’s history and archaeology. About twenty years ago, he wrote a book titled ‘Luxor of Egypt’highlighting the rich artistic culture of ancient Egyptians. The book was written and published with the assistance of Egypt’s Zahi Hawass.
The glorious anniversary celebrated the rich history of Luxor and Thebes while foretelling the many stylish, transcendent innovations in men’s fashion still to come.
But to understand what sparked the movement and trends for Stefano Ricci’s Spring-Summer 2023 remarkable collection is to appreciate the cradle of civilization where the foundation of menswear began- and inspired and influenced generations to come.
Luxor was the ancient city of Thebes. From 1570 to 1069 BCE, Thebes was the capital of Egypt, and it became an important center of worship of the god Amun. The Nile River splits Luxor into two parts: the East Bank and the West Bank. The East Bank of Luxor is the location of Luxor town-where most Egyptians live and work. The West Bank of Luxor is where the ancient Egyptians buried the dead. Each night, the sun sets on the West Bank, an area filled with tombs and mortuary temples, including the famous Valley of the Kings. Indeed, this dichotomy of the two river banks gives the city a strong sense of spirit that opens up all the minds.
The celebration included visiting the Temple of Habu and several archaeological tombs in the Valley of the Kings, including the graves of the golden pharaoh Tutankhamun and Nefertari. Stefano Ricci welcomed 400 guests from around the world to celebrate in Luxor. During a press conference on the day of the main event, he revealed that an additional 100 members of staff, models, and Italian crew were flown in, with an estimate of over 1,000 individuals working behind the scenes. And The production of this fantastic event was flawless-meaning, not a single glitch. Bravissimo.
The three-day event started with a dinner on the Nile, an evening at the Luxor Temple, a lecture by world-renowned archaeologist Dr. Zahi Hawass, and a visit to the Valley of the Kings. The point of highest development was reached with the sartorially splendid fashion show at the Hatshepsut Temple. In my long-standing career, I have never witnessed a fashion show with such class and emotion.
“The creative was inspired by Egyptian civilization, dominated by the golden color of gilded Pharaonic pieces, inscriptions of temples, and the blue color of the Nile,” head of Central Administration of Upper Egypt Antiquities Mohamed Abdel Badie, said.
A touching moment occurred while watching a video monitor where Zenani Mandela-Diamini, recounted the time when she first met Stefano (who she referred to as “Uncle Stefano”) during a state visit to the United Kingdom. At that time, President Mandela wore a black silk Stefano Ricci shirt instead of the required dress code of a formal tuxedo. Madiba had broken the dress protocol by wearing a black silk shirt by Stefano Ricci in the presence of Queen Elizabeth II. The shirt became one of many style signatures that Mandela was known for during his leadership.
A catalyst can take many forms. In shaping a menswear brand, it is not enough to make a shirt, suit, footwear, or luggage; you must convince the consumer why your product is the best. I tip my hat to Stefano Ricci.
It all started fifty years ago when founder Stefano Ricci launched a business of silk ties which would eventually accelerate into luxury men’s apparel.
In 1972, passionate about ties, twenty-year-old Stefano Ricci created his collection with the values inherent to his eponymous brand: absolute quality, artisanry and craftsmanship, and 100% Made in Italy production. To this day, Stefano Ricci excels in the finest Florentine craftsmanship.
In the 1990s, STEFANO RICCI expanded its menswear production to include sartorial suits, sportswear, knitwear, and footwear. The company began producing exclusive leather goods and, following the ancient Florentine goldsmith tradition, began creating cufflinks and precious buckles using gold, platinum, diamonds, sapphires, and other gems.
THE FIRST SR BOUTIQUE IN CHINA:
In 1993, Stefano Ricci opened his first mono-brand store worldwide after strengthening the brand’s presence in the United States with the first Showroom. Rigid with standards and beliefs, the city chosen for the debut of the boutique was Shanghai, with the entrepreneur’s strategic vision to invest in the future of China being significantly ahead of its time. It was a pioneering adventure that yielded substantial results in just a few years.
Stefano Ricci’s competitive advantage is that it serves a particular ultra-high net worth demographic with a powerful aesthetic. Stefano Ricci designs apparel for men who lead. These business leaders understand how dressing well builds self-confidence.
In 2022 on the brand’s 50th Anniversary, STEFANO RICCI dedicated the perfume “Firenze” to the designer’s hometown with an intricate design recalling Renaissance architecture and a bouquet marked by scents from Florentine orangeries.
In 2023, I am dressing for success and will gain momentum like never before. But the new idealized masculine world order and etiquette have evolved with fewer social constraints and more social freedoms. More to my point, the acceptable thinking for men’s clothing owes more to self-expression than the idea of conforming to a group. And the proof is in the data: Compared to 2021, the first half of 2022 saw:
· Outwear +23%
· Knitwear +13,5%
· T-shirts + 16%
· Jeans +6,5%
· Sneakers +6,5%
And when it comes to suits, soft-tailored suits, always Made-to-Measure, combine the pleasure of lightweight fabrics with the case aesthetic. The reason for the rapid uptick is in part due to the stiff competition in higher management positions. And when it comes to seeking venture capital investment for your business, the highest achievers with the most sought-after skill sets will need to look their very best to stand out from the competition.
Dressing for success is empowering men to achieve economic independence by wearing professional attire —-to convey an image of confidence and strength at one’s place of employment- even amongst Ricci’s most affluent customers. And while the styles have evolved by creative director Filippo Ricci to grow with the needs of today’s man, there is no doubt that Stefano Ricci reigns supreme for men aiming to dress for corporate ascension.
“To make a brand today that will last for long is very difficult,” Stefano opined. “50 years ago, it was much easier, and thank god for that. I’ve always followed one particular direction, rejecting the attraction of big numbers — something I’ve refused because I believe that quantity doesn’t go with quality,” says Stefano Ricci.
*The brand has a retail presence of 70 standalone boutiques and more than 20 shop-in-shop locations worldwide.
The Greatest Fashion Ever:
The fashion show was the most incredible fashion show that I have ever attended in my life. For starters, The Italian tenor and singer Andrea Bocelli opened the show dressed in an elegant white suit, singing a magnificent rendition of ‘Celeste Aida’ from the opera Aida, Giuseppe Verdi’s opera, which takes place in Egypt. His strong and soothing voice echoed powerfully off the cliffs above to add to the grandeur of the timeless moment. The moon was full. And the audience looked up at the stunningly beautiful temple fit for a celebratory collection. In the wake of this, the first models began to descend the grand staircase of the temple with the 25 giant statues of Queen Hatshepsut, sculpted with masculine features because she became pharaoh.
The fashion collection show involved 45 models displaying 90 exclusive looks (roughly two walks per model) split into10 themes—silk, cashmere, and linen ensembles. From elegant evening wear to breathable polo shirts and masculine guru jackets, the brand celebrated ancient Egyptian luxury with a modern yet elevated touch. While gazing upon the temple and surrounding limestone cliffs, I couldn’t help but wonder what the god-king pharaohs would have thought upon viewing such excellence.
The first series began with splashed-around rich primary colors that made a powerful statement rife with sartorial rebels befitting to men. The accommodating pleated trousers, jewel tones jackets, and exquisite silk jacquard shirts capture everything Stefano Ricci stands for. The collections were studied and sculpted, yet modern. The fashion reflected something new. Convention busters with an appetite for revamped style had plenty to choose from in this collection.
It did not offer dated corporate wear or the avant-garde gimmicks. On the contrary, the creative direction conveyed a message; a new form of dressing luxury – which many big pocket business people prefer. The style is severe yet uncontroversial, which many men look for today. Stefano Ricci’s most significant legacy is perhaps his quest for excellence.
The spring-summer 2023 collection included items with hieroglyphics woven into the fabric- at an ancient 18th-century silk weaver in the heart of Florence, the Antico Setificio Fiorentino, which is now owned and operated by the Ricci family. (Made in the Ricci-owned 18th-century Antico Setificio Fiorentino silk workshop), an homage to the city’s history while generating a seismic impact of style modifications.
Stefano Ricci prides itself in impeccable tailoring. There was a general sense of understanding that ideas are never lost—for example, open-collared shirts worn under plaid and checked to suit rendered in fresh colors.
One heartfelt moment for me was when African models walked down the temple steps, dressed in modified variations of Mandiba shirts – paying homage to the great South African President. As the models came down the runway, one could feel the spirit of gratitude for Nelson Mandela.
One particular segment that stood out was a fine example of Stefano Ricci’s evolution. The SS23 collection had an arsenal of modern inflections such as open shirts and athletic-inspired looks – without ever missing a beat in fine tailoring.
The 90-look show ended with more casual outfits like ultra-soft white knit ensembles with openwork knits and cardigans, cashmere sweaters, braided sweaters, and embroidered tracksuits. In this billionaire’s wardrobe, there were also suede jackets and crocodile jackets. At the same time, nine elegant and sporty looks in khaki or beige canvas suits with royal blue lining closed the show, complete with an Indiana Jones-style leather hat for a final cinematic touch.
‘Nessun Dorma’ closed the show, sung once again by Bocelli. As the song reached its climax, Stefano descended the steps with Filippo in hand. They were then triumphantly joined at the foot of the efforts by Niccolò as well as matriarch Claudia — the complete Stefano Ricci quartet.
“To make a brand today that will last for long is very difficult,” Stefano opined. “50 years ago, it was much easier, and thank god for that. I’ve always followed one particular direction, rejecting the attraction of big numbers — something I’ve refused because I believe that quantity doesn’t go with quality.”
Words by Joseph DeAcetis