Ten Questions For Gianfrancesco Musella-Dembech
Musella Dembech | Gianfrancesco talks about humility and why the challenges of tailoring encourage him to continually perfect his craft.
Musella Dembech is a small bespoke operation based in Milan comprised of a father, son and mother team. Specializing in Northern Italian style, their house cut features a unique silhouette that many notable style icons like the late Gianni Agnelli or the Loro Piana brothers prefer.
We speak with Gianfrancesco Musella, who runs the sartorial shop with his family.
The Armoury: What is your first memory of tailoring and menswear in your family?
Gianfrancesco: My father had his tailor shop in the fourth floor, and we lived on the third floor of the same building. So I used to go up to watch him when I was very young. As a child, I went up and played with the fabrics. The experience was not so much being immersed in the world of tailoring, but living in a creative space. For example, I started playing drums and percussion when I was seven. There was also art and paintings around the house. We had pieces from artists like Mario Sironi from the Fascism period. This gave me the ability to appreciate life from many different view points.
TA: How did your father teach you the art of tailoring?
G: I was 11 years old when my father started teaching me. I would return home from school in the afternoon and head straight to the atelier. At first, he taught me how to make under collars, pockets, breast pockets, and so on. Tailoring is very complicated work, so you start with the very small things first – even things that you think do not matter. But when you continue studying this discipline, you understand that all these things are linked together. Everything, even the small things, matter.
TA: Was it always known that you would continue the family business?
G: At first, it was not expected. My father almost left the trade because he did not want to work anymore, after so many years cutting and fitting clients. In fact, when I decided to continue my father’s sartoria, I didn’t take any of his customers. We started almost from zero. But in the end, he saw that I could continue the family business.
TA: How do you hope to grow or evolve the business for the years to come?
G: The best hope will be to find new people – young men from Italy or even from other countries who can be taught our tailoring methods and continue this tradition. The discipline is not easy if you are alone. It involves many things, including a team to help you.
TA: If you did not work in your family business today, what would you do?
G: I really don’t know. I like so many things, but maybe an engineer or an architect? I like architecture and design. It’s pretty related to what I’m doing. However, the disciplines are different. They construct buildings, and Musella Dembech constructs jackets for customers.
TA: What is one suit that you feel every man should have in his closet?
G: The first suit that every man should have is navy. Navy should be the first because it is very versatile and it covers all the different hours of the day. Today, there are not so many rules anymore. You can use a navy suit in the morning and a navy suit in the evening. Back in the day, there was a rule that morning suits had to be brown or a light grey, then medium grey during the afternoon. In the evening, it should be navy blue or dark blue.
TA: Do you have any favorite cultural icons, menswear icons?
G: I like a lot! For example, Sergio Loro Piana is one of the most influential men out there – not only for his style but as a person. I like people that say more than the usual. What I like is the style that each person brings with himself. It’s not about the perfection of finding the correct match of colors or fabrics that make you a gentleman. It’s something that cannot be put on the body and cannot be copied.
TA: What is the most challenging part about learning the craft of menswear?
G: We create something for a body that moves. It’s always interesting how one can start with a pattern, stitch pieces together, and create a garment. And because bodies move, sometimes what we create does not fit this moving entity. But many times, what we create works, and it’s a very nice surprise. That’s the satisfaction I get, which allows me to continue moving forward.
TA: What is the most important part of fitting customers?
G: What I look at during fittings is the shoulder. When the shoulder sits, the overall jacket works well. That’s from a tailoring perspective. But while you can create the best jacket in the world from in terms of fit, you can never predict the sensibility of the customer. Sometimes customers will like what we are creating, and sometimes not. So we always look at the jacket as something that should improve the customer. When looking in the mirror, he should feel that there is something better now.
TA: Having worked with your father for so long, what is one life lesson you have learned?
G: The most important thing I have learned is to stay humble. If you think you are right and have nothing left to learn, you will never be anyone. Just stay humble and appreciate that this world was not built by a single person, but by many people.
The Armoury Hong will be hosting Musella Dembech on September 28th-29th. Please email email@example.com to schedule an appointment.