maison smalto


The 1960s

A new decade, a new style … Square-shaped, high-buttoned, high-necked jackets and collars with wide reveres, drainpipe trousers and pointed shoes – this is what the younger generation were wearing.
Yet men’s fashion still had little taste for radical change. Master tailors continued to reproduce the same cut of suits from generation to generation, as proof of their skill.
Francesco Smalto, with all his knowledge acquired as a master tailor, did not see things from that angle.
Having acquired a passion for cut and fabric from a young age, he began his apprenticeship by taking courses at a state school. At the age of 14, he produced his first suit for a family friend, but he dreamed of leaving his home town to conquer Paris. He began his career with Christiani then moved on to Camps which at the time was the most fashionable tailor in Paris. He then left for the United States to perfect his cutting technique in New York at Harris, President Kennedy’s tailor.
Upon returning to Paris, in February 1962. Francesco created the tailoring house of SMALTO opening a shop in the Rue La Boétie in Paris’ eighth district. He immediately had a very specific idea of the look he wanted to give to men: “An elegant, figure-hugging outline”.
With his carefully tailored, made-to measure suits that allowed plenty of freedom of movement, he revolutionised the male wardrobe and its vocabulary; from the pin-striped suit to the white dinner jacket and the safari jacket to futurist suits and high vinyl thigh-boots. Some of these items have become signature garments for the House of SMALTO.
The style favoured by the young Francesco also sought comfort and relaxation while preserving the line and the look. His love of the Far East is manifest in this quest for balance and purity of line. Ever since he started out, Francesco Smalto has been patronised by great performers such as Claude François and Charles Aznavour who chose SMALTO clothing for their stage appearances.

Main photo: Straight suit in brown flannel with chalk pin-stripes
Haute Couture Autumn/Winter 1964

  • Ensemble (blouson jacket, trousers) in grey tweed
    Haute Couture – Autumn/Winter 1966

  • Straight cut dinner-jacket in white wild silk
    Haute Couture - Spring/Summer 1963

  • Straight cut three-piece suit in grey flannel
    Haute Couture - Autumn/Winter 1964

In February 1962, Francesco Smalto created the House of Smalto which he opened in the Rue La Boétie, Paris.

  • Francesco Smalto


The thigh-boot, one of the flagship product of the house

  • Ensemble (short, sleeveless jacket) in sky-blue crêpe, worn with white thigh-boots
    Haute couture - Spring/Summer 1965


In 1967, Francesco Smalto launched his de luxe Ready-to-Wear Collection – marking his unique identity as a couture tailor - with a line of accessories. The collections democratised the collection in a continuity of a style that ensured its success.

  • Beige striped suit with double-breasted, six-button jacket
    Ready-to-wear -Spring/Summer 1969


The 1970s

In the early 1970s, the wind of freedom ruffled the world of high fashion. Francesco Smalto was inspired by this movement that produced a looser line while retaining its balance.
Cashmere patterns, embroideries and a wealth of rich colours were a male dress sensation. Flared trousers, embroidered waistcoats, waisted pullovers, coats belted at the waist all had a liberating effect on fashion.
Fabrics also underwent a transformation. Francesco Smalto worked in velvet, as well as jersey and wild silk to produce double-breasted or straight cut suits with patch pockets and oversewn flaps, with deep slits at the back.
His taste for the finest fabrics led him to use only the best, such as cashmere or flannel, and he commissioned new ones to be woven in England with mixtures of orchid and sable, silver fox or vicuña.

Main photo: White woollen moss coat, lined; double breasted, square cuffsHaute Couture - Autumn /Winter 1977

  • Black dinner jacket
    Haute Couture - Autumn/Winter 1970

  • Grey double-breasted four-button coat
    Autumn/Winter 1972

  • Waistcoat and trouser ensemble in beige and blue Shetland wool
    Sleeveless lined velvet waistcoat, with yoke and ruched back
    Beige velvet shirt, narrow rounded, buttoned collar
    Trousers – 2 darts at the waist –24 cm bottoms with turn-ups
    Haute Couture – Autumn/Winter 1978

It was in this climate of aesthetic upheaval that the first SMALTO boutique was opened at 44 Rue François Ier in the eighth district of Paris.

  • One of the boutique's fronts

  • One of the boutique's windows

  • Inside the boutique


The lightest jacket in the world made of crêpe-de-chine.

  • The lightest jacket in the world made of crêpe-de-chine.


The 1980s

The 1980s were years of excess: achievement, money, appearance. Men considered they needed to assert their masculinity and checks would be marked and even enlarged. Fashion became an art and sport a religion. The human body was revealed and enhanced by the major brands. Beautiful clothes, but they needed beautiful bodies. In public appearances, the tendencies were marked, men had to be tall, virile, square-jawed. The Italian man was fashionable.
The House of SMALTO was a reference and dressed a number of celebrities. During this decade, men’s suits that had always been an architectural creation, now became more roomy.
The shape changed but the combination of materials remained the same. Monsieur Smalto continued his quest for unusual fabrics, the delight of the connoisseurs.
This love of luxurious fabrics was also visible in the cinema, where move-makers did not hesitate to use costumes and lighting to the delight of the general public. In “The Last Emperor”, played in the cinema by John Lone, Bernardo Bertolucci made best use of the brilliance of brightly coloured costumes of each of the leading characters.
New fashion codes were introduced – a flower in the buttonhole, the dropped and slightly raised shoulder, the Milanese lapel and exotic fabrics – and these were the delight of leading politicians, singers and movie stars.

Two-piece suit, three buttons on herringbone bases.
Ready-to-wear- Spring/Summer 1989

  • Khaki gabardine trench coat in waterproofed wool
    Ready-to-wear - Autumn/Winter 1988

  • Straight cut two-piece suit, pure wool, two side slits
    Ready-to-wear - Autumn/Winter 1988

  • Straight cut two-button suit, flap pockets, pure combed wool
    Ready-to-wear - Autumn/Winter 1988

1985 Francesco Smalto created a women’s collection in a masculine style based on his signature creation: the suit

Main photo
On the left: single-buttoned black suit jacket, shirt with classic collar
Centre: white suit with skirt.
Right: Black waisted two-button suit.

Ready-to-wear – Autumn/Winter 1992

  • Single-buttoned black suit jacket, shirt with classic collar
    Ready-to-wear – Autumn/Winter 1992

  • White suit with skirt
    Ready-to-wear – Autumn/Winter 1992

  • Black waisted two-button suit
    Ready-to-wear – Autumn/Winter 1992


In 1987, new collections – of fragrances, watches, leather goods and eyeglasses - enriched the world of SMALTO.

  • Smalto watch

  • Smalto fragrance

  • Smalto glasses


THE 1990S

The House of SMALTO continued to gather an increasing band of followers including crowned heads and statesmen from throughout the world, who loved refinement and who found themselves in the temple of suit elegance and know-how.
In 1991, Francesco Smalto took the young creative, Franck Boclet, under wing and appointed him Creative Director. In 1998, Boclet took over from SMALTO and officially became the firm’s artistic director. Franck Boclet did not want to give in to the fashion for androgynous clothing and, while remaining faithful to the spirit of the age; he favoured an affirmed masculinity, promoting his taste for leather and fur.

Main photograph: Ensemble (jacket, waistcoat, trousers) in saffron combed wool with grey-blue checks on a herringbone background
Ready-to-wear - Autumn/Winter 1992

  • Straight-cut waistcoat in brown and beige hound’s-tooth check, jogging bottoms in beige baby alpaca
    Ready-to-wear - Autumn/Winter 1992

  • Barely tailored shirt with classic collar in saffron, red and green
    Ready-to-wear - Autumn/Winter 1992

  • Straight-cut ensemble (jacket, trousers) in red Harris tweed, with grey and white check pattern.
    Ready-to-wear – Autumn/Winter 1992

While the 1990s marked a break with everything that had gone before, they were also, paradoxically, a return to basics.
The Spring – Summer 1996 collection reflects this state of affairs, with a return to the flower in the buttonhole, the white suit and the pin-striped suit. The new artistic director did not hesitate to play on this mixture of the traditional and the contemporary.

Main photograph: White four-button suit with grey pinstripes
Black and white tie
Ready-to-wear – Spring/Summer 1996

  • Grey and chalk pinstripe three-button suit
    Ready-to-wear – Spring/Summer 1996

  • Classic white three-button suit
    Ready-to-wear – Spring/Summer 1996

  • Flower in the buttonhole of a three-piece 100% combed wool suit
    Ready-to-wear – Spring/Summer 1996


The 2000s

The new decade saw the House of SMALTO move in a new direction. Francesco Smalto retired in 2001, leaving Franck Boclet, whom he had trained for so many years, at the helm. Youn Chong Bak, who had also been initiated into the art by Francesco, took over in 2007 to supervise the Couture and Ready-to-wear collections. She breathed new energy into the creation, rendering the style lighter and giving a more casual look to the collections while respecting the firm’s heritage. The watchword remained elegance.
Under his banner, Couture continued to perpetuate traditional craftsmanship while adapting to the changing clientele.
Sous sa houlette, la Couture continue de perpétuer un savoir faire traditionnel en s’adaptant à l’évolution de sa clientèle.

Main photograph: Waisted dinner jacket in 100 % wool with tailored collar
Ready-to-wear Autumn/Winter 2011

  • Classic grey two-buttoned suit in 100% combed wool. Tie in the same colour and Egyptian cotton shirt.
    Ready-to-wear Autumn-Winter 2007

  • White shirt with narrow collar, sand-coloured pullover, white trousers, suede khaki-coloured belt.
    Ready-to-wear Autumn-Winter 2007

  • White three-piece suit, black bow-tie.
    Ready-to-wear Autumn-Winter 2007

In 2011, for the first time, the ready-to-wear has been preceded by a dozen of exceptionnal, exceptional and unique couture items created by the Smalto workshop.

Main photo: black smoking

  • Haute Couture graphic two-buttoned suit in 100% combed wool with overlaid collar. Classic shirt in woven 100% Egyptian cotton
    Haute Couture – Spring/Summer 2012

  • Haute Couture suit with jacket of smooth and exotic leather. Ostrich skin collar, dropped shoulder, natural interlining and piped pocket edgings
    Haute Couture – Spring/Summer 2012

  • Haute Couture suit of 100% combed wool with hand-sewn embroidery
    Classic shirt in woven 100% Egyptian cotton
    Haute Couture - Spring/Summer 2012