It is said that Tuscany’s Maremma region is the birthplace of Aphrodite, the Greek goddess of beauty. In fact, legend has it that when Aphrodite rose from the waves of the Tyrrhenian Sea for an ardent happenstance with Eros, the god of love, her necklace shattered, sending seven pearls plunging into the deep blue. Instead of sinking to the ocean floor, however, they bloomed, forming the seven islands of the Tuscan Archipelago: Gorgosa, Capraia, Elba, Pianosa, Giglio, Giannutri, and perhaps the most famous of all, Montecristo.
It is a mythological tale Filippo Ricci tells aboard the SaraStar, an Italian superyacht floating along the majestic aquamarine waves just off the coast of Punta Ala, a lavish Tuscan resort town. An intimate group has gathered from far and wide to be amongst the first to witness a glimpse of Stefano Ricci’s Spring/Summer 2019 collection, titled Man and the Sea.
“We’re here to celebrate and tell the story about the Stefano Ricci man,” says Filippo, the brand’s creative director and son of founder Stefano. “He is running a path, a journey, an adventure, celebrating the great Italian beauty.” From Vancouver (where there is a store on Georgia Street) to Shanghai, the Stefano Ricci gentleman naturally fuses the worlds of contemporary clothing and classical tailoring, walking a line of knowledge that conveys quintessential Italian style.
As guests sip espresso, unsure of the “surprise activity” to a “secret location” that is about to be revealed, three stoic, handsome, and hyper-masculine models glide around the upper deck of the yacht, which wows those aboard with its custom tailored silk textiles from the Antico Setificio Fiorentino mill and extravagant Stefano Ricci homewares. Each model dons a look from the new collection; one of them sports a double-breasted jacket made of exclusive Stefano Ricci cashmere and silk paired with shorts crafted from a beautiful blend of wool, silk, cashmere, and linen. His outfit is perfected with a 100 per cent straw handmade Panama hat and suede deerskin leather espadrilles. It is an ensemble that speaks to the timeless pleasure of yachting, perfect on a warm day under the Tuscan sun.
Inspired by French poet Charles Baudelaire’s poem of the same name, the Man and the Sea collection tells the story of the Stefano Ricci customer’s love of adventure. And what better way to celebrate that narrative than to travel to the very place where the campaign lookbook was shot: the highly exclusive Montecristo Island.
Location has always been important to the Stefano Ricci brand. Former collections have been inspired by the likes of the legendary Mugello Circuit in Scarperia (the Ricci family has a passion for vintage cars) and the undying beauty of Matera, a UNESCO World Heritage Site located in the south of the country. Another was presented in the Sala Bianca room within the historic Florence museum Palazzo Pitti (Andrea Bocelli walked in that show with his sons). The objective is to not only create beauty wherever the Stefano Ricci man goes, but to treat the conservation and protection of each place with the utmost respect. “They ask me, ‘What is the real treasure of Montecristo?’” Filippo says just before the afternoon cruise embarks. “They say the story of The Count of Monte Cristo, but it’s really the beauty uncontaminated of that island.” Of course, it is hard not to connect the island to the famed Alexandre Dumas novel in which protagonist Edmond Dantès finds treasure that leads him on a path of revenge and redemption (and after which this very magazine takes its name)—but for those lucky enough to see it, Montecristo has so much more to offer.
Four elements characterize the collection’s journey of exploration and discovery: Balbo’s tower, Aphrodite’s myth, Atlantic’s legend, and Montecristo’s treasure. Aboard the SaraStar, it is easy to recognize how Aphrodite’s story inspired the colour palette of these suits, trousers, and polos, from the deep blacks of the Mediterranean’s dark abyss to the soft reds and yellows of the beautiful Tuscan sunsets.
The yacht follows the same route as the Atlantic, the 1903 schooner that appears in the Stefano Ricci campaign in which the man of the sea ventures on towards Montecristo, protected by a matte technical silk blouson and a formal pinstripe suit in ultrafine weaves of wool and cashmere. The 40 nautical miles to the island are made easy with a glass of wine in hand, and after two hours of sailing, it is there in the distance: Montecristo. In The Count, Dantès describes the island bathed in mystery as “fantastic and lonely,” and perhaps that is the most accurate account; it is mountainous, bare. Yet it is evident how this place, filled with the folklore of saints, dragons, and pirates, had the ability to seduce even Stefano himself.
The 10.4-kilometre-squared island is an almost inaccessible nature reserve, a territory where wild goats run the show. This five-million-year-old landmass was classified as a Biogenetic Natural Reserve by the European Council in 1988 and is not open to tourists; onboard the SaraStar, one Stefano Ricci model (wearing a made-to-measure two-button suit equipped with a pocket square) explains that access to the island is limited to 1,000 visitors per year with a current waitlist of thousands. How lucky for him to have modelled that very suit upon its rocks.
Only a brand like Stefano Ricci, dedicated to safeguarding Italy’s beauty, could charm its way onto one of the world’s most protected islands. Although this afternoon’s guests are not amongst the lucky approved visitors to set foot on the island, cruising within the restricted 4.8-kilometre radius that ships are typically forbidden from entering is special in itself.
A warm bowl of creamy rigatoni with spicy sauce and parmigiana awaits inside the yacht as rain starts to fall atop Montecristo. It is a fitting way to see the island: drenched in gloom against the harsh sea. It demonstrates Montecristo’s prowess, its remoteness, and its status as the finish line for the ultimate adventure—one, of course, that the Stefano Ricci man has conquered.
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