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Spring 2007

Article selected from our quarterly magazine dedicated to the largest and most luxurious boats with information, interviews, technical articles, images and yachting news



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Article by
Franca Urbani

Finollo, 100 years of life and ties
A style to learn from

Finollo Ties, Genova

Genoa is one of the most beautiful sea towns in Italy, Via Roma (Rome Street) is one of the more attractive roads in Genoa and Finollo is one of the more famous shops in Via Roma, in fact, more than just a shop, it's a Tie & Shirt Maker.

The shop window has a wonderful liberty style engraved wood surround, and once inside, I find myself in a small but charming room which happens to be the reign of luxury ties of an elegance appreciated world wide and even more so, by that world of yachting which we all love that has always tied Genoa to the Anglo-Saxons. I am warmly greeted by Roberto Linke Finollo's son in law in the small reception area come fitting room. He currently runs the shop whilst his wife Daniela Finollo manages the famous workshop and its precious and rare to find embroideresses.

Mr Linke, who was Finollo exactly?

A very clever man, a true Genoese at heart who loved the sea and his boat "Tipperary". He designed this shop himself some 107 years ago now. It initially started as a gentleman's underclothing shop before specialising in manufacturing shirts and ties.

Is it true that Finollo was visited by a plethora of famous figures who used to come hear as if they were visiting The Temple of the shirt and tie?

We certainly had quite a collection of well renowned characters who used to come and be fitted in this very room or whom we sometimes attended in the comfort of their homes. I remember Prince Ranieri of Monaco amongst others, Gianni Agnelli, Guglielmo Marconi who often used to come to Portofino aboard his yacht Elettra, as well as the Duke of Windsor with his Wally. Then came Beppe Croce, the founder member of the YCI and many other figure- heads from the yachting and business worlds as well as your normal middle-classes of course.

Briefly, what is the history of this accessory?

The tie already existed at the end of the last century even though it was only worn by a few. Let us consider the British Regiment ties which after all offer the base onto which the colours or the crest of the regiment are reproduced. They were smaller in shape and lighter in weight. By the end of the 20's a small embroidered cord-like accessory made its way into fashion. The accessory itself was created to break the monotony of white shirts and is thus closely connected to the evolution in gentleman's fashion. At that time in fact, men wore coloured or striped shirts in the morning but white ones in the afternoons or evenings.

Where did the materials come from?

The British weavers were the best. Finollo used to design his materials and he then had them made for sale to the United States.

Is there a relationship between tie knots and those used on boats?

The same applies to ties as does to lines and warps that have many different functions. Actually one of the simpler ones was perfected in this shop and later became the Finollo knot. Then we have the Windsor which works the opposite in the sense that the longer side of the tie goes from left to right. This knot started life in front of our mirror too. We even have a man's shirt model which was inspired by the Duke of Windsor and another, a lady's model inspired by Wally.

I was under the impression that ties and thus this shop had nothing to do with lady's fashion

You are mistaken actually. In fact one day in 1910, a very important client walked in and wanted to create a lady's tie model for his wife, a very feminine lady no sergeant major for sure. Thus our lady's tie was borne, I will show you. It is made of very light plain coloured silk, a cross between a scarf and a head scarf: no need for the knot.

I am quite enchanted as I watch Mr Linke produce small and quaint ties out of a large draw which I find simply delightful and quite chic in their bright colours: white, black, pink, pastel green, yellow, light blue.

How is your workshop currently organised?

My daughter and I design the ties, my wife works with six ladies in our workshop in Piazza Lavagna in the historic part of town. Workshop as you say, because I in fact consider myself a craftsman in that I sell what I produce and I teach the art of working, so in a way, I would say that a craftsman is also a teacher.

What do you remember of Gianni Agnelli's and Beppe Croce's styles?

Beppe Croce was just naturally elegant, he new what to wear and when. Instinctively. About Agnelli I remember he used to send us his tails' shirt to be ironed: this happened quite often as nobody appeared to please him as we did. Tails have now gone out of fashion of course, because our hectic style of living has done away with the custom of changing very often in the day in accordance with time and occasion. Men's fashion reached its splendour in the 20's and 30's when men who could afford it followed this ritual from morning to evening. The morning would favour a more casual choice by way of jackets , shirts, waistcoats and trousers all very coloured: the ability lay in the very coordination of all those colours. Men used to drive a car, play golf or polo dressed like that. In the afternoon, they would change and wear trousers, jackets and waistcoats of the same but more sober colour , with a tie to match. Many paintings of that era depict men's clothing in some detail. In the evenings men would go out wearing tails whereas the morning suit was kept for ceremonies during the day and comprised striped trousers and a light grey jacket.

Dinner jackets were used solely for having dinner and men would change after dinner into tails ready to go to the theatre or to a ball . Can you imagine, for many years we used to keep our shop open until the theatres opened so as to offer our clients white bow-ties.

What about the bow-tie?

We have some 10/12 models of bow-ties. Preferring it to a tie is just a matter of personal taste. Going back to ties again, we have produced those for the YCI, with the garter at first, on a blue backround which is the club's crest, now produced with the small YCI flag hand-embroidered on a blue background. In the old days embroidery was done using a silk thread and it took 200 minutes, nowadays using a cotton thread it takes 20. There are now only two ladies who do the embroidery because young people are not interested in learning. We also produce ties for the Circolo Canottieri Napoli (Naples Rowing Club), the Circolo del Remo e della Vela Italia, (Oar & Sail Club Italy) and those of the Yacht Club Costa Smeralda, the Olympic Committee and America's Cup.

What is your annual production?

We don't do more than 6000 ties per year.

This is also a luxury item in that not everybody can have it, not even if they are very well off. Should one wait and desire to have it?

In fact, a personalised state of the art tie, could be a gift fit for kings and state leaders. We have made ties for the G8, ties to commemorate the 60 years of the Italian flag where the Savoia blue becomes the blue of Italy. An owner of some relevance has even wanted the logo of his spinnaker on the front of a tie and the ID number of the boat on the back so as to make a present of it. Ties are very much tied to the tradition of a gift.

Which are the more commonly embroidered patterns on your ties?

Literally anything: from a compass rose, to a sailing boat with the spinnaker's colours, to the sea horse, the octopus, the siren. Since I do so love sailing boats, I always try to draw the sails in exactly the right position to reflect direction and wind.

I am just astounded at the world that has unrolled before my eyes and I am really in two minds whether to buy a pastel green tie or a Wally shirt. Thank you Finollo and good bye.

For information: Finollo, Via Roma, 38R, 16100 Genova, Phone. +39 010-562073