Three Italian master tailors, Nino Corvato, Checchino Fonticoli, and Joe Centofanti, have dedicated their lives to creating clothing in a way that can be considered an art form. Directed by Vicki Vasilopoulos, Men of the Cloth is an inspiring story where viewers will be able to witness what it takes to be a master tailor. Vasilopoulos's directorial debut will be screened in Los Angeles this Sunday, October 19th at 2:00 p.m. as a part of the La Femme Film Festival.
Nino Corvato started his career as a tailor back in Sicily. There he went from being a production manager at Brooks Brothers to extending his talents all the way to managing a clothing factory in South Korea. Now at the age of 74, Corvato has chosen New York City to allow his business to thrive. With over 50 years of experience, Nino Corvato is still in his prime as a master tailor.
Checchino Fonticoli began his craft of tailoring in a similar way. He was an apprentice in his hometown of Penne, a town in central Italy in the region of Abruzzo. He worked in Rome for a little while but his true calling was back in Penne. He worked alongside his uncle, Nazareno Fonticoli, in the Brioni factory. He has tailored clothing for distinguished people such as Pierce Brosnan, Luciano Pavarotti, and Nelson Mandela. He was even honored with the “Master of Trade” award by the President of the Italian Republic. Fonticoli is now 73 years old and although he has retired, his art form is still thriving through the Brioni School, where young tailors are able to learn the methods that made Fonticoli successful.
After having worked in Italy, Joe Centofanti is now back in the United States in the town of Ardmore, Pennsylvania. At the age of 93, Centofanti still oversees the production of clothing in his shop which he has owned for 50 years. His passion for the art of tailoring is still present in all that he does. With an astounding amount of experience, Centofanti has truly embodied the meaning of being a master tailor.
According to Vasilopoulos, this was the motivation behind making this film: “I call them humble men who make exalted clothing, and I wanted to honor these unsung heroes. I wanted to celebrate their craft. I see Men of the Cloth as akin to the Slow Food of clothing, and these gentlemen’s personal stories were my true inspiration for the film. Men of the Cloth is a heart-centered character-driven film and I wanted it to have a universal appeal. But I also hoped that my film would spark an intergenerational dialogue on the value of artisanship, and what we’re losing as our society moves increasingly to a globalized economy devoid of a personal connection between the creator and consumer.”
Vasilopoulos chose these three master tailors because, “Joe, Nino and Checchino were master tailors at the top of their field but were also very articulate individuals with great charisma. They had such a way of expressing their passion that I knew they would be perfect for a film. I first met Checchino on a reporting trip to Italy when I was writing a piece on the luxury market. He gave me a tour of the Brioni factory and school in the town of Penne, and I was mesmerized by the environment there and couldn’t help thinking that craftsmen of his stature and experience were a vanishing breed. Nino was fascinating because he had worked at Brooks Brothers prior to opening his own custom tailoring business in New York. And Joe in the Philadelphia area was the elder statesman. He was born in the U.S. but grew up in Italy and worked in Africa. Nino and Joe both represent aspects of the immigrant experience, and I also liked the fact that Checchino, although he was based in Italy, subverts our expectations and represents the opposite end of the spectrum from these two independent tailors in the U.S.”
According to Vasilopoulos, “The most memorable thing about Nino Corvato, Joe Centofanti and Checchino Fonticoli is realizing what a precious gift it is to find your true calling in life. To a certain extent, I do believe that the legacy of these master tailors will be carried on, but perhaps in a different form. For the most part, it's probably going to be a made-to-measure landscape, with very few true custom or bespoke tailors around.” As far as her directing career goes, Vicki Vasilopoulos has “already started pre-production on two other documentary films that are tangentially related to the world of craft and fashion.”
To become a part of the mailing list for future updates on screenings, please go to http://menoftheclothfilm.com/mailing-list. The Festival DVD of the film is also available at www.MenOfTheClothFilm.com.