Why We Made a Documentary About Antonio Liverano

It is a little unusual for a small shop in Hong Kong to produce a documentary about an elderly tailor in Florence but Antonio Liverano is a man who I feel we should have a historical record of. To say that Antonio has taught me a few things would be an understatement. Our initial meetings were very regularly punctuated with the phrase “listen to me!” not because I was a reluctant student but because there are things that are very important to Antonio and they must be emphasized.

The world of tailoring is very different from the world of fashion. To place an order with a tailor is not a simple trade of a good for a sum. At its best, it is a human experience, imprecise and unquantifiable. A tailor strives to communicate, understand and satisfy a customer on a number of levels. There is the obvious technical aspect of tailoring, which is to create a garment that fits and is soundly constructed. Then there is the less obvious technical aspect, which is to create a garment that flatters and is beautiful in its own right. Finally there is that most ephemeral human aspect which is to create something that is Right and as if by magic, has Style. Antonio is the only person I have ever encountered to so completely meet these challenges.

Personal style is a form of expression. Antonio takes the time and effort to connect with a customer and proceeds to refine that person’s ability to express themselves in their clothing without imposing something alien upon them. An appointment with Antonio always starts with a chat. It is not small talk but a search for hints and clues as to what is Right for the customer. When I meet customers in dressed in Liverano, I always feel they are in exactly the clothes they should be in, an extension and an enhancement of themselves, rather than clothes that turn them into something else. Truly great Style is an elusive thing but it lies, like hidden treasure, in being able to be yourself. Perhaps that is why it so often accompanied by maturity and natural elegance.

The ability of any great person to practice an art exceptionally well fascinates me. It is never the result of one or two lucky breaks, it is the culmination of a myriad of factors like natural talent, an ambitious personality, a sharp, creative and inquisitive mind, a disciplined self and just being in the right place at the right time with the right people. In this documentary, we have tried to capture how a person becomes great. While we were unable to be comprehensive, we hope at least it will increase people’s awareness and appreciation for the art of tailoring and maybe even set the stage for the next and next and next Antonio Liverano.

The greats are inspiring not just for their feats but because they prove the possibility of achieving greatness, and so the next generation may stand in the shadows but also on the shoulders of giants.

Mark Cho, co-founder of The Armoury


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