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The craftsman of artists
Rome - (Ign) -from public relations man to entrepreneur. A difficult step, even if the company he heads is quintessentially artistic. But it is also one of the best known symbols of Italian products in the world. This is Tirelli Costumi spa, the most famous Italian theatrical costume makers, and one of the best known in the world, who have produced costumes for the masterpieces of Luchino Visconti and for the operas staged by the set designer and director Pier Luigi Pizzi. They represent more than 40 years of the history of Italian and international cinema and opera. Dino Trappetti (in the photograph next to the dress worn by Demi Moore in 'The Scarlet Rose'), has been the sole director for 15 years now. This was a difficult inheritance, taken up by Trappetti in 1990 on the death of Umberto Tirelli, but also a risk and a challenge.
Mr Trappetti, do you think you have overcome this challenge ?
"I had been a business partner of Tirelli since 1964, when the first small costume making shop was opened in Rome. But I had always dealt with external relations and the press office, albeit obviously in the world of cinema and, above all, opera. But I knew nothing about tailoring and costume making. On Tirelli's death, in December 1990, I found myself without hardly realising it, at the head of his company. Initially I had thought about selling everything, then my friends convinced me to reconsider the situation and helped me a great deal. There were 30 people working in the company, and I couldn't abandon them".
So basically, it was chance that decided the future of the Tirelli costume-makers?
"Let's just say destiny decided for me. Certainly, destiny together with a great deal of good luck, but the help of my assistants at Tirelli was also decisive. Passing from public relations to running a company wasn't easy. I had no managerial experience. But the group that Tirelli had built up and given a sense of responsibility allowed me to go ahead and take up this great heritage".
Do you feel more like craftsmen or businessmen?
"Craftsmen, absolutely. Stage costumes, whether destined for opera or cinema, are almost always completely sewn by hand. They are made one by one, following the instructions of the costume designer and, of course, with our personal touch, but only in terms of professional experience".
Have you ever been tempted to move into fashion?
"We have received offers of this kind in the past. But they are two different fields, two completely distinct paths. Valentino was asked to design the costumes for a cinema production and he accepted only on condition that we made them. Basically, they are two completely different worlds".
But you are as famous as, if not more famous than, many great designers.
"Certainly, but above all because we have worked together with the most important artists in film and opera, from all the films of Visconti toThe Kingdom of Heaven, from set designs for the Scala opera house in Milan and at the Rome Opera House in the 60s and 70s, to recent projects with the new generation of Italian and foreign costume designers. As the years have passed I have certainly learnt also to understand costumes, to imagine them on the set. But we are still craftsman, who cut, dye and sew".
So you are not going to branch out from your sector?
"We are the best or one of the best in a specific field. Why should we go looking for something else? Our costume making business has participated in the creation of hundreds of works of art which have gone down in the history of cinema and music. Why should we change? It would also be a betrayal of Tirelli's ideals. He too, like us today, was a craftsman. He started almost by chance, working as a porter for a theatrical costume-makers in Milan. By chance, he met Luchino Visconti, when he was working on the set for La Traviata in 1956 at La Scala, with Maria Callas. In the end, Visconti asked him if he was interested in coming to Rome. And that was that. In 1964, the shop was set up and I became a partner, through my friendship with Tirelli. Craftsmen then and craftsmen still today".
Tirelli Costumi spa
via Pompeo Magno, 11/b