Caraceni

Domenico (1880-1939). Italian tailor. Together with Ciro Giuliano, he is considered an absolute master. He was the nephew and son of tailors. Tommaso, his father, never left Ortona a Mare, where he was born and inherited the workshop in which he would work until the early 1900s. He was helped by many of his thirteen children, first of all by Domenico and Augusto, who was called Agostino, to whom he taught the trade. It was in this workshop that the first English suits of their fellow citizen Francesco Paolo Tosti made their appearance. The suits were manufactured for the Italian composer by the same London tailor on Savile Row who dressed Edward VII, crowned King of England in 1901 and a symbol of Anglo-Saxon elegance. The musical romances Malia, Vorrei Morir, and Non t’Amo Più stirred the enthusiasm of the extremely stiff Queen Victoria, who named Tosti singing-master at the English Court, “stealing” him from the House of Savoy family and from the Quirinale. Rescued by his talent from a poor life in Ortona, the musician knew that in his homeland even a used suit was a treasure. When he no longer wore a particular jacket or suit, something that happened often, as Edward VII had given him the virus of Dandysm, he would send it to his family in Italy. There it was neccessary to alter them, by taking them in, tightening the sleeves, or lengthening the pants. The suits of “peasant” Tosti, who would be named a baronet, ended up in the tailor’s workshop belonging to the Caraceni family. Mario, Tommy and Giulio Caraceni, cousins and heirs of the dynasty, who continue that tailoring tradition, tell how “Domenico would unstitch and disassemble them, to study the cutting, the stitches, the technique. England is the motherland of men’s tailoring for the entire world. Domenico Caraceni learned its secrets and ‘mixed’ that technique, which he also studied deeply in English handbooks, with ours which came from the Abruzzi-Italian tradition and was more complicated and insistent in the stitching. He added, we could say, a Mediterranean softness to the dough, modifying the line of the British tailors, whose suits are always a little stiff, a bit like a military uniform, and have a certain internal substance somewhat like ‘armor.’ This is why we say that a Caraceni suit has the lightness of a handkerchief. Domenico was so certain to have invented something new that he patented his technique, receiving patent number 28642. Since then, the Abruzzi tailoring school has distinguished itself from the Neapolitan school, which is more marked and exasperated.” When, in 1933, Domenico decided to hand on what he had studied, learned, invented, and put into practice during so many years of work, he published the treatise Orientamenti nuovi nella tecnica e nell’arte del sarto. The preface was written by the member of the Italian Academy Massimo Bontempelli, one of the greatest minds of the 1900s: “In this treatise Domenico Caraceni places himself among the rationalist or, if you prefer, functionalist architects. It’s not so strange. The architect dresses the earth, the tailor dresses the men who walk on it. And tailoring, no matter how little you think of the history of costume through the centuries, always walks in parallel with architecture….Caraceni shows a surprising understanding of his time: ‘We are at the height of the 20th century in a marvelous flowering of new forms.’ He explains that while the spirit of past centuries fulfilled itself by satisfying a taste for exterior things and had an abundance of decorative motifs, unwisely altering the natural contours of the human figure, today the fundamental essence of proper dress lies in an interpretation of the clothed body that leaves it above all with freedom of movement. For him, the three important qualities of modern manufacturing are softness, lightness, and flexibility. The synthesis of all these requirements is simplicity.”