With Milan Fashion Week recently drawing to a close, Italian-made clothes are splashed across the pages of international magazines and igniting fashion envy in design connoisseurs around the globe.

Italian fashion has long been synonymous with luxury but the craftsmanship comes with a premium price tag. Even the ready-to-wear outfits from Milan’s runways cost thousands of dollars. Shoppers craving a one-of-a-kind piece should be prepared to pay several times more for couture fashion.

In the country that gave birth to ‘la bella figura’, being sharply dressed and well heeled is practically required. Luckily, Italian fashion sense does not need to come with a designer price tag. Italy has a long tradition of exceptional tailors and talented seamstresses who can be found throughout the country. In fact, investing in custom-made fashion often results in a better fit and a more refined look compared to an off-the-rack brand name outfit.

In honor of these bespoke businesses that have long formed the backbone of Italian fashion, Andrea Spezzigu and Pascal Gautrand undertook the task of researching and writing A Tailor-Made Guidebook ROME dedicated to menswear in 2010, followed by La Donna su Misura ROMA presented at Rome Fashion Week last summer.

While most Rome guidebooks cover itineraries that include stops at the Colosseum, Pantheon, and Trevi Fountain, Spezzigu and Gautrand point out 239 Roman establishments for custom fashion items.

The men guidebook lists businesses that create a range of personalised items, from glasses and watches for the modern businessman, to custom ecclesiastical robes that must cater to clergy with a taste for worldly comforts. The book provides maps and addresses for tailors, shirt makers, shoemakers, leather goods makers, and goldsmiths to satisfy any sartorial craving.

Ladies, which initially might have felt left out of the artisanal tradition guide, were delighted by the new publication detailing where women can commission personal pieces in the Eternal City. In addition to made-to-measure tailors, the ladies guidebook includes specialty shops that offer customized perfumes and beauty treatments.

Gautrand came up with the firts book concept when studying at the French Academy at Rome’s Villa Medici. The fashion expert was intrigued by the subtle differences and intricate details that were unique to each of Rome’s sartorie and shirtmakers.

Donna Su Misura To document the nuances of each individual tailor, Gautrand bought a 30 euro shirt at the chainstore Zara. He snapped a photograph of the mass-produced shirt and sent it off to various tailors. The diversity of the resulting shirts confirmed the personal attention that goes into each custom made piece. Guatrand explained: “It’s a combination of the customer’s identity and the experience and savoir faire of the artisan. Rome is rich with hand-tailoring establishments, and it’s still possible to have a shirt made here for €50, but many of them are closing.”.

The guidebook is an important step towards supporting the bespoke tradition by providing interested consumers with the insider information to discover Rome’s best tailors. It is a tradition that Fendi menswear creative director Silvia Venturini Fendi agrees needs saving, which is why the luxury brand professional wrote the menswear guidebook’s introduction.

The menswear guide to Rome is already available in Italian and in English. The feminine version is expected in stores on the 5th of October 2011. There are also rumors swirling that the guide may expand to other cities in the future.

For a preview of what you will find in the guides, check out some pages on the
Vogue Italia’s website or visit the made-in-town.com blog.