EGM Style Mentors: An Interview with Franco Mazzetti (and his Cigar Picks!)
EGM STYLE MENTORS
Throughout our travels across countries and continents, we have encountered many extraordinary individuals who are passionate and talented in their own respective craft – and who also share the same love for all things Cuban Cigars. We decided to create a monthly series called ‘EGM Style Mentors’ which feature individuals who have shown a passion in both cigars and fashion. Cigars undeniably evoke a sense of elegance and sophistication, making it the perfect accessory for people who love all things sartorial.
“A MAN OF STYLE”
Franco Mazzetti, a man with impeccable style and a friend of ours, is our special feature for the month. On a beautiful day in Florence, sitting comfortably in the famous ‘Café Gilli’ – known to be the oldest café in Firenze – we were introduced by our close friend Guillaume Bo to an exceptionally well-dressed man that is, Mr Franco Mazzetti. From the first glance, with his fitted suit and well-kept mane, he immediately exhumed an air of refinement. Not long after, we became familiar and exchanged formalities – during our conversation; it was evident that he was a naturally charming and approachable man who was comfortable in his own skin. Mazzetti has worked in the menswear industry for decades, he has prominent contacts of important clothing companies and has active participation in significant national and international fashion events. It has taken many years to get this far in his career, he is responsible for consulting the image and style for professionals wanting to manage their repute through the art of fashion. Just like many of Franco’s suits, his attitude to style is very ‘tailored’ and ‘bespoke. This means that when giving fashion advice, there is no ‘one size fits all’ – we believe that it is a highly admirable personal opinion of his, encouraging individuality when it comes to style.
Franco Mazzetti in Pitti 96, Florence (Credits: Anthony Knaape)
After working in the fashion industry for decades, we are curious about how your interest in menswear came about?
"I discovered a passion for men's clothing at a very young age; I remember a nostalgic memory from my first communion – instead of the usual watch, bracelet or other gifts - I asked my parents (shocked as they were) for a bespoke suit made especially for the event. From then on, I continued to pursue my passion for fashion and had professional training in the industry; influencing my style of dressing forever. From 1980 to 1993, I worked at the Florentine headquarters of a famous British Auction House. They required us to wear a very formal dress code while having constant contact with countless English Gentlemen whose style I greatly admired. Thanks to that experience, I learned to combine the traditional British tailoring with the classic Florentine style. After entering the fashion industry, holding different roles for various companies allowed me to develop my style further. I believe that having a refined taste life translates into fashion and styling choices; in my case, I could best describe it as understated and classical."
Fall/Winter season is approaching, what are your wardrobe staples this season? Any predictions on what will be a popular choice at Pitti 97?
"As I've mentioned, my style is inherently classic and does not conform to anything over-the-top. Therefore, I believe that when it comes to essential winter garments, there are basic pieces that can be worn every year. However, the only clothing items I tend to alternate often are waistcoats, and I love them. I usually wear them to act as a contrast to the suit according to the art of "spezzato" (arranging a suit with different colours) while, of course, trying to maintain a certain harmony of the look and the colours. Although I love coats in the winter, I believe that no one has ever seen me leaving my home without wearing a suit jacket (except for the weekend). On the other hand, I don't love scarves very much, but I love the turtleneck pullover, which I think is refined and sporty at the same time. This could sound quite unusual to some, but I consider the cloak an extraordinary piece of clothing for beauty and comfort, in the manner of a true Venetian gentleman. As for the next season, with trends constantly changing and with Pitti Uomo always bringing something surprising, it will be hard to say what would the next trend be - however, I just hope that the next trend will gravitate towards a more classic, gentleman style."
You're an advocate for self-expression when it comes to style and, for some people, it's difficult for them to find the confidence to do so. Often times, fear of being harshly judged may stop one from truly expressing oneself. What advice would you give to them?
"As an Image Consultant, the most important and challenging task is helping people to develop the self-confidence to "dress-up". Many people like to stay in their comfort zone by conforming to jeans, sneakers and t-shirts. However, there are also many people who would like to change and improve their image, but very often, they are afraid of the judgment of other people (friends, relatives, girlfriends, etc.). To those who have never worn a jacket, a tie or a leather shoe, I always advise changing your look "step-by-step" by buying; for example - a dress shirt instead of a t-shirt, then maybe a jacket, and perhaps, a leather shoe instead of trainers. Once the change process has begun, it was the customers themselves who asked me to speed up the whole experience, as they usually immediately get the first compliments from those people who were most afraid of receiving judgement. At that point the most difficult part is behind, now the customer is ready to take the next step which will be the expansion of his wardrobe with garments that in the past, he would never have imagined wearing but now, feels more comfortable and confident wearing."
We highly admire your style as do many others, how did you develop it?
This question is very difficult because I don't think I have ever done anything consciously to develop my style. As you know, though you can buy expensive clothing, money can't buy you style. In my case, through my upbringing, life experiences in this industry and my curiosity, I have developed my personal style that can be described as understated and classical.
Franco Mazzetti with Ponte Vecchio in the background (Credit: Constantin Slotty)
Many people see cigars as a fashion statement, what can you say about the relationship between cigars and fashion?
"I don't know if the word fashion can be associated with smoking cigars, but cigars are an element that, in many instances, add to the 'individual's’ image. However, the fact is, the use of cigars as a fashion accessory can sometimes be misused even by gentlemen who usually smoke cigars. On certain occasions, people smoke just for the mere exhibitionism, which in my opinion, I find quite comical. I have been smoking cigars for almost 40 years, and I believe there is no need to "show off" while smoking a cigar. Although I do smoke publicly, and often receive attention for it, I believe that smoking cigars is an act of relaxation and best performed in a private setting."
We know you enjoyed smoking Toscani in the past and, perhaps, you still do. How did you find switching from Toscani to Cuban Cigars? What would you say the main differences are?
"For a Florentine-native like me, smoking Toscani cigars was a must! I smoked these cigars for almost 40 years, and even though I had, from time-to-time, come across good Cuban cigars, I have always appreciated the slightly rustic character of Kentucky Tobacco; the tobacco used for Toscani. Moreover, it was easy and convenient to get my hands on Toscani cigars, and I enjoyed the consistent flavour of smokes like the Toscano 'L' originale' and the Toscano' Antica Riserva''. Then one day, a friend brought me cigars from Cuba that were handmade, without a band and enclosed by a very thin sheet of cedarwood - I was introduced to a whole new world of cigars. Those cigars, but also many other Cubans that I tasted later, were extremely refined in taste, certainly more "sweet" and with a lot more complexity which is quite commonly found in Cuban cigars. To my delight, the flavour changes and strengthens as the smoke goes on, evolving in its consistency but also its aroma. I almost consider the Cuban cigars as the perfect smoke for relaxation, and I cannot imagine anything more relaxing than to have a Cuban cigar in one hand and a glass of excellent whiskey in the other."
We know you're a busy man, but when you find some free time, What would you describe as your ideal evening? How do you like to unwind?
"As I got older, I started to prefer living a more private life; and I cannot find a more perfect way to relax than when I am with good company, with great food, quality spirits and of course a beautiful Cuban cigar to smoke."
As a cigar enthusiast yourself, what do you most enjoy about smoking Cuban Cigars?
"Despite having only recently discovered Cuban cigars, I have to say, the appearance of Cuban cigars is not the only thing I have learned to appreciate. As already mentioned, I like how the "strength" and the aroma of the cigar evolves over time. The first Cuban cigars I tried seemed a little bit weak in comparison to Toscano cigars. However, over time, I have gradually developed my palate and appreciate the cigars with a better understanding of its flavours and complexities. But I must confess, one of the things I love about smoking Cuban cigars are the rituals before puffing the cigar – smelling the aroma of the wrapper, cutting the end and with due care and lighting the foot before starting to smoke. Once lit, you will have nothing else to think other than to enjoy the array of aromas that cigars provide. A long and slow smoke, a real pleasure!"
One final question for you, if you had to choose one cigar to smoke for the rest of your life, what would it be?
"Although I’ve not smoked many Cuban cigars as of yet, I’m looking forward to expanding my experience and knowledge. I can say that for now, my favourite would have to be the "Partagas Serie D No. 4." - A very intense and full-bodied cigar that delivers a lot of character. Though it's not the most high-end cigar out there, its robust taste and complex flavours made me choose it as my current favourite Cuban cigar."
FRANCO MAZZETTI'S CIGAR PICKS
Left: Ramón Allones Hermitage; Right: EGM Laguito No. 4
RAMÓN ALLONES HERMITAGE -With notes of pepper, wood and nuts - the Ramón Allones Hermitage cigar is wonderful with its complex, full-bodied profile.
EGM LAGUITO NO. 4 - Impeccably handmade by skilled torcedors, the Laguito No 4 is medium-bodied with the finest tobacco from the Vuelta Abajo region of Cuba. Expect a wonderful bouquet of complex flavours!
Left: Partagas Culebras; Middle: Bolivar Petit Coronas; Right: Montecristo Petit No. 2.
PARTAGAS CULEBRAS - Gently untie the ribbon and smoke just one of the Partagas Culebras panetelas, this unique-looking cigar will provide a smooth draw and a lengthy smoking experience. While smoking this, you may be able to find notes of leather and pepper!
BOLIVAR PETIT CORONAS - Full of flavour - the Bolivar Petit Coronas is undeniably complex and well- balanced cigar. With its mareva vitola, you will be able to taste notes of spice, cream and musk.
MONTECRISTO PETIT NO. 2 - Wonderfully constructed with the finest tobacco wrappers from Cuba, the Montecristo Petit no. 2 has substantial notes of almonds, earth and white pepper. You will be delighted by this mini torpedo’s smooth draw and complexity!
We are fortunate to have interviewed Franco Mazzetti, and we ourselves, have learnt a lot from the man himself. He is a top-tier men's stylist and is an inspiration to many sartorial men all over the world - follow him at @franz_1955 on Instagram. To read more about the world of Cuban Cigars, read our Cuban Cigar Blog:
- Master's Picks: Jasim Ahmed and His Top Cigars
- A Helpful Guide to Tasting Cigars: Flavours and Notes
- Pitti Uomo: Best Street Style and Cuban Cigar Moments