His rocking mane, his big rings and his mischievous look are quite striking. From one day to the next, Giotto Calendoli became one of the most famous street style male models in the world and has been influencing the fashion scene with his creative looks and interesting projects. His success came suddenly, but that isn’t surprising at all. When Giotto enters the room, he fills it with his charm. He talks to The Flow House about the future of fashion, Naples and his love for his grandfather.
“Everything began as a joke.” That would be the perfect way to start his biography. Today, it’s the first sentence of an exclusive interview with The Flow House. The beginning of Giotto Calendoli’s career couldn’t have been any more “random”. Giotto talks about how he moved to Milan five years ago and established the fashion platform The Atelier with his then-girlfriend Patricia Manfield. Together they photographed their looks and posted them on their blog. It didn’t take long for people’s first reactions. The highlight of it all was an invitation – standing – to a Roberto Cavalli show and that’s where the unthinkable happened: Before the show, their picture was taken by many street style photographers and they were published on the most important fashion blogs and magazines. The world celebrated the new street style couple of the fashion industry and so, Giotto became a celebrated fashion icon overnight, which can be traced back to his unique style and ambition.
The setting for our talk couldn’t be any more inspirational. The nhow hotel in Milan pretty much embodies everything that Giotto expresses: creativity, tranquility, and madness. No wonder the Italian guy, who just got back from Burning Man, feels so comfortable here. “I love to allow myself to be inspired by people, religions, and traveling.” When it comes to fashion, Giotto is pretty much a “fashion nerd”. “I research fashion, new trends, brands, and patterns as often as I can. I am fascinated by how many characteristics fashion can have and how fashion encourages to create new ones.” He makes a point by saying that fashion contributes to finding one’s self and putting something into effect.
With his label GrandPa, Giotto has found a way to impress people and influence them positively. When you first read the name, it might remind you of fashion for older men, however, the story behind the name is a different one. “My biggest inspiration is my grandfather, who I never met.” What sounds ironic at first, is actually incredibly beautiful. “My grandfather had already died when I was born and I inherited all his clothes. The older I became, the more often I tried to wear his clothes and copy the looks I saw in the pictures. So, I found new inspiration for each season and combinations and when it came to finding a name for my first label, I immediately knew it had to be GrandPa.” GrandPa is a dream come true for Giotto Calendoli, who has become the employer of many young creatives, who he lovingly calls his “kids”. “GrandPa should be an evergreen brand, that embodies fashion that is timeless and knows no boundaries.” But why create your own brand if you still work together with some of the biggest brands in the world, such as Yves Saint Laurent or Gucci? “I very much enjoy the opportunity of working with such wonderful fashion brands, but I wanted to create my own brand to see if my own fashion and ideas can be successful.” His plans seem to be working out, his new collection is about to be launched and his Instagram followers just can’t wait.
It’s quite evident that Giotto Calendoli isn’t a so-called “classic Instagrammer”. However, his profile consists of stylish pictures, mostly of him, but the self-marketing is a different one. Giotto isn’t trying to build a personality cult but wants to pass on his life inspirations. Giotto is trying to inspire and animate people worldwide with different tools, such as The Atelier. “The Atelier is a fashion platform, from E-Commerce to editorials and inspo walls. I see the platform as a virtual meeting point for creative people that want to be inspired.” To keep it up-to-date, Giotto travels all over the world. He was just in LA, or also in Naples – his hometown, which we’ll be talking about later – and today he’s in Milan. Travelling is part of his life and he couldn’t live without it. “I was in Marrakech a while ago, to shoot my first campaign for GrandPa. The location was unreal, the different colors, walls, markets, the architecture – I just had to shoot my campaign there.” Giotto rakes his fingers through his hair and explains that it isn’t just about seeing new places but much more about exploring new cultures. “India, Japan, Morocco – when you travel, you learn new things about the world and see things with different eyes.” How true.
When Giotto speaks, he does it with body and soul. One realizes how happy he is about his life. He gets emotional when it comes to his hometown Naples. “I have a very strong connection to Naples. Whenever I travel, no matter where I am, I always talk about Naples and how happy I am to be Neapolitan.” Giotto smiles. Regardless of how he dresses or how many successes he has been able to celebrate, he remains thankful. “You know, I think that we Neapolitans have something ‘special’ and ‘crazy’ inside of us. The city captivates me and I love going back to see my family – let alone the food.” Living in Naples isn’t an option for this Italian guy. “I left Naples for London at the age of 18 and since then I’ve been travelling around the world.” Vacation in the South, work in the North? “It’s very true that it is more difficult to build one’s creative status in the South. It was the right decision for me to move to London, respectively Milan, and realize my projects here.”
During our talk, the jewelry on his hands catches my eye, which has led to a strong urge to buy new rings. “I adore vintage markets, that’s where I always find interesting things, like my jewelry.” How would Giotto, a man who is named a “fashion icon” by the biggest fashion magazines, describe his style? “Very easy. Denim, t-shirt and boots – you just can’t go wrong with that.” And what about extravagant looks? “Yes, but only if it really is suitable. I don’t like people that are too overdressed. People like that just want the attention and that’s pointless – that is not what fashion should be about.” Calendoli takes a sip of water before he continues speaking at a fast pace.
“If I should tell you what I like, then I would recommend the current Louis Vuitton winter collection for example – each piece is magnificent. A further secret tip is GCDS.” Giuliano Calza’s brand has its finger on the pulse and is even considered the best newcomer brand of the past season. “Let’s not forget Acne Studios. That label is just divinely good.” True. And the brand looks seriously good on him too. But Giotto doesn’t want to follow individual trends. “In fashion, it should be about feeling comfortable. Of course, you need to do your research, try out new things but it doesn’t make sense to just wear clothes cause they’re in at the moment.” Giotto’s statement stands for what many people wish to express and thus also a point of criticism in the fashion world. “The fashion industry is in constant transition and more and more brands are unisex and yes – social media changes everything.” It’s no secret that the social networks have a strong influence. Now is this positive or negative? “Obviously there are positive sides, otherwise I wouldn’t be where I am now. But there is a dark side to it as well. So many ‘wannabees’ want to be part of the scene. People that beg photographers to take pictures of them instead of actually creating something.” Giotto criticism towards the industry, especially social media, is no surprise. However, there’s something good about this change. “The concept of fashion week will change very soon. Fashion enthusiasts won’t want to wait a year to get a hold of the pieces. When they see a show, they want to hold their desired it-piece in their hands as soon as possible. Tommy Hilfiger has taken the first step. See now, buy now is the new motto.” Cell phones could be forbidden at fashion shows, so that only the things that the fashion brands want to show their customers, actually get out in the open. “Exactly, just like MSGM. I think that there is going to be a splitting of shows in the future: Those that are thought for the press and those that are meant for the public.” A very interesting input, that could actually work.
Giotto is an esprit libre. He lives what he feels and transfers his thoughts into images, or accessories like in GrandPa. The hype around his person is barely noticeable. “I want to continue working on myself and realizing my projects. Especially GrandPa means a lot to me. I don’t really think about tomorrow or the day after tomorrow all that much, but rather live in the now and try to implement my ideas.” Meanwhile, it’s the afternoon and the Italian sun is shining through the entire room of the stylish nhow hotel. “It gives me a good feeling, going to the GrandPa factory and see my co-workers. The motivation and joy at work are big. The creation of the brand and leading a team gives me a lot.” But to stay alive, Giotto especially needs one thing: “Travelling – I need to see the world to discover new things.” We can’t wait to accompany Giotto on his journey and to see what this crazy yet creative Neapolitan has to show the world.