“Dressing well in Naples is not that difficult. All or almost all of my friends have a family tailor. Everyone says that his is the best of all. And in Naples, being the best of all means being among one of the premier in the world”
Tell us about yourself. Who are you? What is your background in the field of jewelry & menswear and how did you start?
I come from a family that has worked in the world of jewelry since 1894. My father was a famous goldsmith from the Isle of Capri. He made unique exclusive jewelry without ever repeating himself. My great grandfather was also a goldsmith and opened the first Barbarulo jewelry Shop in Naples in 1920. In 2012 I quit my job as bank advisor. I had decided to completely change the historical family business from the sale of jewelry to the handcrafted production of jewels: cufflinks!
When I started, I had a lot of ideas; a few cufflinks in production but a lot of tailor friends. Tailoring is my second true passion. And in a few years, I managed to make my little creations protagonists in the world of tailoring. I chose to show my brand at Pitti Uomo instead of the Vicenza oro. I chose the most important sartorial Maisons in the world rather than jewelry stores. I follow my instincts and my passions. Every day, every moment of my life.
You have been well known through social media with your lapel chains & beautifully crafted cufflinks – how do you find inspiration to the way you dress and design your collections?
Dressing well in Naples is not that difficult. All or almost all of my friends have a family tailor. Everyone says that his is the best of all. And in Naples, being the best of all means being among one of the premier in the world. The inspirations are many. The art, the colors of the city, and its history. These are the things that inspire me and inspire my creations. But there is one thing that is innate in every creative individual: taste! I believe I have it; but I also believe my clients have it. I have to admit that they help me a lot. The right thing is to know how to listen and feel emotions.
A interesting product that you are basically the inventor of is the “Lapel Chain”. How was that idea born?
As I was just saying: you have to listen and observe customers. We great extraordinary customers in our Naples showroom. There is a story of the Kingdom of the two Sicilies that still has its living roots in the customs and way of life of some members of the Neapolitan nobility. We have a special client who used his father’s gold watch chain to carry some lucky charms in his pocket (tailored of course). I’m not the founder of this elegant accessory but I’m definitely the biggest manufacturer in the world. Today we have more than 5000 possible variations by combining the 3 elements of the Lapel Chain: The head, the chain, and the pendant. We also gave it an original name: Vezzo.
Others have given it different names, but ours seems to be the right one. Because our lapel chain can be fun, serious and become an exclusive jewel in coral, gold, and diamonds.
What is your earliest memory related to menswear and style?
Surely the memory of my grandfather. That until the last day of his life (aged 102) wore his Borsalino hat and his leather gloves. He loved introducing himself with a bow to all of my friends. He had his historical references where to buy the fabrics for his clothes. His ties were old, and saw the signs of time, but he wore them with a unique class. This is the first memory I have of elegance. A union of beauty and profound elegance.
Your style shows a good balance between classic and contemporary. What are your top tips for men that would like to add some accessories in terms of jewelry to their outfit?
There are few things to say. The elegant man, as my father said, must only wear the watch. He didn’t even wear his wedding ring! He was an extremist, I said he
had the soul of an artist.
When I started selling my cufflinks around the world to famous actors, show business and fashion personalities, my father decided to buy 5 tailored shirts for cufflinks. A great achievement.
Well, I have revolutionized the use of cufflinks. I never wear a French double cuff shirt. I recommend tailored shirts with a simple cuff to everyone. Cufflinks every day. So, I recommend the following jewelry: watch, cufflinks, and lapel chain. If you would like to wear a ring, stick to one with your family coat of arms or a semi-precious natural stone. Wear a maximum of 2-3 small bracelets with colored stones. The rule is simple: wear little jewelry but let what you wear be beautiful and exclusive. And best of all is of course it it’s from Barbarulo Napoli!
6) You have been working with brands like Cesare Attolini, Viola Milano etc. All well known for their sartorial elegance and style – How has their image affected your business?
Working with important brands and celebrities is important and certainly helps you in the process of gaining international recognition. But it is also a great responsibility. The customer must never be disappointed.
When the Attolini family gave us the unique opportunity to make exclusive cufflinks inspired by the movie “The Great Beauty” we knew that we mustn’t go wrong! After months of work we have created something truly special and unique. Giuseppe and Massimiliano were very satisfied and proud of our work.
Tom Nathaniel also knew how to play creatively with our Lapel Chains, and we got many requests from customers who asked us for the same model he wore on Instagram.
What is your signature of Barbarulo Napoli collection?
Who is your typical Barbarulo client? Barbarulo cufflinks are recognized for the harmony in the shapes, the right size and I would dare to say the taste. We insist a lot on beauty because we are convinced that the light that an object emanates depends on the love and care with which it is made. Our jewels have this light. Our client is always looking for something original and custom made. He wants to feel that we made that jewel just for him.
As a following question of the past one, what makes your product special? Certainly, the practicality of use. One thing that I consider a MUST of our production. Cufflinks for everyday MUST be comfortable to wear. We can easily make changes on precious and semi-precious stones. In short, we work in harmony with our customers. They are special for us and our jewels become special for them.
For those who plan to commission their first Barbarulo product – what item would you suggest or advise?
Definitely start with a pair of cufflinks from the Buttons or Gems Collection. They are rich in variations in colors and stones.
If you had to name one person that influenced your style the most, who would that be?
There is no particular person. I can only say that I observe many of those who like to dress well. I take inspiration from them and work out my personal style. If I have to name someone, I have to say Gianni Agnelli. When I was 15, I saw him on Capri on Via Camerelle with blue jeans, a white shirt. and a Ferrari red cashmere sweater. He radiated elegance and everyone, me included, stopped to admire his style. He was unique in the world.
What is an essential wardrobe staple you always bring when traveling?
Definitely my favorite watch, 6 pairs of cufflinks, a scarf or foulard, and my beloved hats.
Could you select 5 essential Barbarulo Napoli items from the selection here on MNSWR:
Can you mention any essentials in your wardrobe for Spring/Summer 2021?
I notice the comfy trend, back to the 90s, blue jeans with rolled creases. I honestly won’t follow them. Blue jeans are fine but with style. I will definitely wear linen shirts and suits. My new 50 years birthday gold Rolex with a green strap handcrafted by my close friend Emilio Colonna. My specials light penny moc by Gabriele Peluso Napoli and Albert Thurston braces. And finally, some beautiful cufflinks in Mediterranean coral by Barbarulo Napoli.
Cristiano’s favorite items:
Watch: Omega Speedmaster
Jacket: Cesare Attolini
Shirt: Luca Avitabile Napoli
Tie: Viola Milano
Bag: Masel Milano
Shoes: Gabriele Peluso Napoli
Fragrance: Panama 1924 Fefé by Boellis Napoli
Accessories: Barbarulo Napoli
Most important item: cufflinks & watches
Shops: Harrod’s and small antique shops in the world
Restaurant: Aurora (Capri), Crudo rè (Naples), Cicciotto (Naples) Favorite Cities: Naples, London, Paris, New York
Holiday Choice: Capri (Naples), Filicudi (Sicily), Folegandros (Greece).
Car: Porsche 911 Carrera
Style Icon: Gianni Agnelli