Fash­ion designer Smalto dies at 87

The China Post - - ARTS -

Ital­ian designer Francesco Smalto, who as one of the stars of the men’s fash­ion in­dus­try clothed princes, heads of state and sport­ing icons, has died in Morocco aged 87.

The “cre­ative vi­sion­ary” pro­vided men with “an al­lure and unique style” his fash­ion house said in a state­ment on Mon­day, adding that Smalto had died in the night from Satur­day to Sun­day in a Mar­rakech ho­tel.

Smalto en­joyed a lengthy and suc­cess­ful ca­reer but his im­age took a tum­ble in 1995 when he ad­mit­ted in court that he had pro­vided call girls as well as suits to then Gabonese Pres­i­dent Omar Bongo.

For that he was handed a 15-month suspended sen­tence and a hefty fine.

Smalto was born in the south­ern Ital­ian re­gion of Cal­abria in 1927 and showed a pre­co­cious tal­ent for cus­tom-made clothes, cre­at­ing his first suit at the age of 14 for a friend.

But it was in the fash­ion cap­i­tal Paris that he dreamed of forg­ing his ca­reer and his fash­ion house went on to pro­vide the French foot­ball team with its for­mal suits for last year’s world cup fi­nals in Brazil.

His early years in the fash­ion world saw ap­pren­tice­ships at Parisian tai­lors such as Cris­tiani and Camps as well as with Har­ris in New York, who pro­vided suits for Pres­i­dent John F. Kennedy.

In 1962 Smalto cre­ated his own brand, in­stalling him­self in a chic part of the French cap­i­tal and rapidly build­ing a rep­u­ta­tion for clothes which were com­fort­able and ex­pertly tai­lored. Among his celebrity clients were French ac­tor Jean-Paul Bel­mondo, crooner Charles Az­navour and Morocco’s late King Has­san II, the fa­ther of the cur­rent monarch.

Smalto re­tired in 2001, sell­ing his busi­ness on to the Al­liance De­sign­ers com­pany.

Korean stylist Youn Chong Bak, who be­came the Smalto fash­ion house’s artis­tic direc­tor in 2007, mourned the loss of “the mas­ter and an ex­tra­or­di­nary per­son.”


A file pic­ture taken on July 5, 1993 in Paris shows Ital­ian fash­ion designer Francesco Smalto dur­ing the pre­sen­ta­tion of his 1994 spring/sum­mer ready-towear fash­ion show.

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