GIANNI AGNELLI (a brief unauthorised biography).

Agnelli was born at his parents’ house in Turin but he maintained a strong ties with the village of Villar Perosa, near Turin in the Piedmontregion. His father was the prominent Italian industrialist Edoardo Agnelli and his mother was Virginia Bourbon del Monte, daughter of Carlo, 4th Principe di San Faustino, head of a noble family established in Perugia (no kin to the House of Bourbon). Agnelli was named after his grandfather Giovanni Agnelli, the founder of the Italian car industry Fiat.

Gianni—as he was known to differentiate from his grandfather, with whom he shared his first name—inherited the command of Fiat and theAgnelli family assets in general in 1966, following a period in which Fiat was temporarily “ruled” by Vittorio Valletta while Gianni was learning how his family’s company worked. Agnelli raised Fiat to become the most important company in Italy, and one of the major car-builders of Europe. He also developed the accessory business, with minor companies also operating in military industry. Agnelli and Fiat would come to share a common vision, Agnelli meaning Fiat and, more sensibly, Fiat meaning Agnelli.

Agnelli’s fashion sense stood out, even in a country like Italy, where dressing well and fashionably is generally perceived as very important. His style has inspired and influenced menswear throughout the years, in Italy and around the world. In his retirement speech, Milanese fashion designer Nino Cerruti named Agnelli as one of his biggest inspirations, amongstJames Bond and John F. Kennedy. Esquire Magazine named Agnelli as one of five best dressed men in the history of the World.

Agnelli’s dress style was a combination of a foundation of classic suits, combined with eye-catching personal tricks. He had a large number of bespoke Caraceni suits, which were of very high quality and classic design, and yet had the signature Italian bravura. It was the accessories and the way they were worn that made Agnelli stand out as a fashionisto. He is known for wearing his wristwatch over his cuff, wearing his tie askew or wearing (fashionable) high brown hiking boots under a bespoke suit. All these tricks were carefully chosen in order to convey sprezzatura, the Italian art of making the difficult look easy. His outfits were scrupulously chosen to the last detail, yet the accessory choices appeared as errors, making it look as if he did not care or make an effort about the way he was dressed.

Apart from his dress sense, Agnelli’s homes were work of designers and looked like studies in elegant living. Additionally, he was interested in sailing, fast cars, skiing and horses. His grandsons and heirs to Fiat, John and Lapo Elkann, seem to have adopted their grandfather’s tradition of dressing, as they are both often observed dressed classically and flamboyantly at high-society venues.

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