Men of the Cloth

Il film di Vicki Vasilopoulos "Men of the Cloth" racconta le storie di tre esperti sarti di successo che creano capolavori di eleganza e stile per vestire il corpo umano e affronta il loro ruolo nelle sfide del XXI secolo. L'arte sartoriale appartiene alla cultura italiana e questa pellicola intende immortalarla per i posteri.

For many of us, when we think about Italian fashion, the well known -- Armani, Cavalli, Dolce & Gabbana, Fendi, Gucci, Prada, Valentino, and Versace -- come to mind. Some may think of Ferragamo for shoes, some may recall that Benetton is Italian owned and for those who know men's fashion, Brioni, Castangia and Zegna are at the top of the list.

It was while touring the Brioni factory and tailoring school in Penne (Pescara, Abruzzo) that Vicki Vasilopoulos, at the time a fashion editor for the men's newsmagazine DNR, had the idea for a documentary film about Italian master tailors. At the factory, she met head designer and master tailor Checchino Fonticoli, and was taken by his passion for the craft. Within a year, Vicki began research for her film, becoming the director and producer of Men of the Cloth. On her website,, she explains the reason for her film: "The craft of hand-tailoring is now at a crossroads, and the few remaining independent master tailors are getting on in years and won't be working for much longer. Because of this, I feel a sense of urgency to record their stories for posterity."

Men of the Cloth tells the stories of three "accomplished master tailors who create masterpieces of elegance and style to clothe the human body" and "how these master tailors are navigating their challenging role in the 21st century."

I asked Vicki how she selected the tailors for her film. "I talked to people who were familiar with this world and I interviewed potential subjects by phone. When I paid a visit to tailors Nino Corvato in New York, NY and Joe Centofanti in Ardmore, PA (both had a reputation as masters of their trade), I knew right away that they were incredibly compelling and sympathetic characters and clearly passionate about their craft."

Vicki notes, "this is a character-driven film. ...the master tailors in the film each represent one aspect of their craft, whether they work for a global brand like Brioni or they run an individual shop like Nino Corvato does. By getting to know these tailors, you come to understand the current state of the tailoring trade."

In reply to my question about the quality of Italian hand-made suits verses suits being produced in China, Vicki stated, "Much of this depends on the skill level of the individual tailor, regardless of what country he is from. And of course, there's a big difference between a so-called ‘hand-finished' suit that is primarily machine-made and sold off the rack (ready-to-wear) in China or elsewhere, and a piece of custom-made or bespoke clothing created with an individual pattern by an Old World artisan who has worked on three separate fittings with a client. Naturally, there are many other levels of quality in between -- like ‘made-to-measure' -- which many retailers and men's shops offer."

"What I do know (and what every Italian knows on a visceral level) is that hand-made clothing executed by an Italian artisan with Old World training has an indefinable quality that's imbued with a style, passion and pride that flows from a tradition rooted in the Renaissance."

When asked her thoughts on the future of the trade, Vicki said, "The future of this trade is the million dollar question. "the purpose of the film is to make people contemplate this issue and the value of craftsmanship, and arrive at their own judgment."

After more than 100 hours of filming, Men of the Cloth is now in post-production. This is where the film is created through editing footage, developing the soundtrack, and adding graphics, dialogue subtitles and screen credits. The National Italian American Foundation has provided some funding for the film, but Vicki is "currently raising funding to complete post-production." She hopes to release the film this year, however, "the release date depends on how soon the money becomes available."

Vicki is also working toward a film "premiere at a major film festival before being screened in cities with large Italian American communities across the country (including New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Illinois, California, Rhode Island and Florida)." Her "distribution plan includes a US television broadcast, video on demand, extensive educational outreach, foreign distribution and a DVD. Many scenes and characters that don't make it into the final cut of the film will be used for the ‘extra features' on the director's cut of the DVD."

To learn about others who have worked in the trade, one of the features on Vicki's website is a Share page at, where people can post stories about family members who were or worked for an artisan tailor. And for those who are not quite sure about their writing skills, Vicki -- a journalist and editor -- will provide some writing assistance.

The Italian master tailor is a part of Italian culture that must be preserved, and Men of the Cloth is an educational film that offers a glimpse into the art of the tailor. For more about the film and the tailors, to view some film clips, and to contribute to the film's release visit Vicki's website at You can also learn the latest about the film on Facebook at

Janice Therese Mancuso is the author of Con Amore, a culinary novel; and founder of Thirty-One Days of Italians, an educational program to promote Italian and Italian American history, culture, and heritage. For more information, visit,, or email at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..