The secret is in the perfect pattern. If you don’t know the real technique, there’s no other remedy!
As part of my interview series, I had the pleasure of interviewing Fashion designer and custom tailor Saverio Pisano. Saverio has dedicated his life’s work to the perfect pattern that ultimately creates a unique timeless style. His international career spans from Milan to Paris and Buenos Aires to Los Angeles where he has dressed fans of his custom apparel for decades. Over his storied career, Pisano has not focused on fashion trends but on the client and how they wish to present themselves.
Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series! Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?
I began my fashion training in Italy at the age of 5 ½ years old. My grandmother and mother decided that I would become a tailor since it is a profession that is always in demand. At this young age, they had me work closely with a talented local tailor. Although I was initially disappointed because this meant that I spent afternoons after school with the local tailor that was training me, and not with friends outside. But, over time I understood that this was actually an ideal profession for my perfectionist personality. Within a few years, I was attempting to correct the tailor and by the age of seven, I made my first pair of pants. I remember the absolute thrill in creating a pair of pants that used my greatest efforts and utmost abilities. It is a feeling that I will never forget. It felt like a major accomplishment and solidified my passion, even at such a young age, that I wanted to be creative and show my artistry through fashion.
At the age of 14-years-old, I moved to Milan to pursue further studies in fashion and at 18-years-old I moved to Paris to attend the École de la Chambre Syndicale de la Couture Parisienne. But it was in Buenos Aires, Argentina, where I moved a few years later to be closer to my family, that my career truly took off. Meeting the woman that would later become my wife, she encouraged me to open a fashion school, called PISANO, so that I could share my knowledge and understanding of fashion.
My son, Bruno, is my life. When he decided to move to Los Angeles, my wife and I felt that it was time for us to go with him. I have a passion for new experiences and a love for the United States given to me by my grandfather. When I was a young boy, my grandfather would tell me endless stories about his life in the United States where he lived for over 20 years. He lived in Brooklyn and traveled to New York, San Francisco, Washington DC, and Miami. His stories were full of joy and excitement, so I was in love with the US before I even arrived. Los Angeles is a city that loves fashion, so I am very much at home here.
Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you started?
When I was living in Argentina, I was dressing politicians, their wives, celebrities, and socialites. But I never saw that part of the person. I saw the person as a client who wanted to express themselves through the clothes that they wore. One distinct memory that I have is of a First Lady that we would secretly call “Necha”. She came to me and said that she had a big problem with my designs. I was very worried and immediately wanted to know what I could do. She said, “Your designs are too timeless. Years later, they look as new and fashionable as the first day I wore it.” It was actually a compliment about my unique designs and deep understanding on what would bring out her elegant features. But when she first approached me, I was so worried! We are still laughing about this story many years later.
Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?
Once when I first started, a client came in for a suit fitting, and then again and again. He was very upset, and the mood went from excitement to frustration. Since that time, I have dedicated myself to creating the perfect pattern. It never happened again, and I am proud to say that clients rarely come in more than twice for a fitting. It’s really not a funny experience, but it was certainly a life lesson.
What do you think makes your company stand out? Can you share a story?
The signature of my pieces is the mark of attention to detail and timeless style. The true secret to the perfect custom creation is in the pattern. I spent years perfecting this area and I have written a book, The Tailoring Bible which is meant to share my wisdom. One of my proudest achievements is the ability to fit a suit in two fittings and not the five fittings needed by most others in the industry.
Clients get very upset and irritable when they have to keep returning for fittings. The excitement of a custom creation loses its appeal. By having only two fittings, there is tremendous excitement and involvement by the client. Even with computers, it’s very difficult to take a design that was made on a mannequin and create the perfect pattern. Chapters of the book are dedicated to anatomy, focusing on the nuances of design for enhancing certain areas of the physique and creating ways to distract from others.
Which tips would you recommend to your colleagues in your industry to help them to thrive and not “burn out”?
Clothing should talk. Clothing communicates words of awe and confidence. That’s what true couture, which is based in the details, can do! The best way to understand the quality of a jacket, suit, dress, or any item of clothing, is to take notice of the fabric pattern. Look at the line that runs from the lapel and see if there is one line. If you are not sure, remember that it should look artistically correct. It should feel balanced. Stripes should be connected, and squares or patterns should align and meet each other in a pleasing way. This should be the case for patterns that go in horizonal or vertical directions. Often clients do not see the specific details. For example, the line of the sleeve that meets a certain way. In a couture jacket, there is a continuation of the sleeve and it will seem to effortlessly flow. Pockets need special attention and can sometimes almost look invisible. It is essential that the hem be completely straight.
The only way to achieve the above is with the perfect pattern. When a client is not happy, it makes the designer unhappy, frustrated, and burnt-out. If a client comes in for two fittings and has their garment ready, everyone is thrilled.
How have you used your success to bring goodness to the world?
I believe that sharing my understanding of fashion and patterns through my school and now my books, allows people to feel good about themselves because they can take this education and grown. Also, my timeless designs have helped men and women feel a sense of confidence.
Do you have a favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share a story of how that was relevant to you in your life?
I am always saying that, “The secret is the perfect pattern.” I focus on timeless style, which is made up of classic, essential pieces, that are perfectly tailored and never look dated. The custom garments are universally flattering, comfortable, and make excellent investments. When a person is wearing a tailored garment by me it can be emotionally powerful. The impact is based on how the person carries themselves in the clothes they wear. We can instantly tell if the clothes are wearing the person or if the person is wearing the clothes. The secret is in the patternmaking of the garment and the work that is done by hand.
Do you see any fascinating developments emerging over the next few years in the fashion industry that you are excited about? Can you tell us about that?
People are embracing their personal style more than ever. Regardless of the trend, people must embrace their individual style. Custom clothing made from a perfect pattern allows clients to bring out their individuality. I believe that when a person loves what he or she is wearing, it gives them a sense of confidence. Women have long discovered what men are learning now; that the way clothing fits makes you feel better about yourself. I want people to feel confident and to embrace colors that they like — no matter the time or trend.
Also, clients are rediscovering dressing up as they seek to purchase clothing that is unique, communicate their sense of self, that are of high quality, and are meant to be worn over many years. In uncertain times, such as now, people gravitate to custom clothing because the garments are universally flattering, comfortable, and make excellent investments.
Thank you for all that. Here is the main question of our interview. What are your “Top 5 Things Needed to Succeed in the Fashion Industry”. Please share a story or example for each.
1) Focus on classic, essential pieces, that are perfectly tailored. We can instantly tell if the clothes are wearing the person or if the person is wearing the clothes.
2) Understanding the difference between trends and timeless style. Every season a new fashion trend is born that is diverse with details that are meant to stand out with the true personality of the creator. People who seek custom garments and haute couture are eager to be noticed.
3) The secret is in the perfect pattern. If you don’t know the real technique, there’s no other remedy!
4) Look to cities with your personal sense of style for inspiration. Having the opportunity to have worked and to currently work with men and women who embody a strong, yet effortless sense of style is what I am grateful for every single day. I am continually inspired to design and create dresses, suits, and gowns that communicate sophistication and power.
5) Read my book! The Tailoring Bible
Every industry constantly evolves and seeks improvement. How do you think the fashion industry can improve itself? Can you give an example?
I see that so many people are facing enormous challenges and I believe that it is important to keep perspective and be mindful of what we have. Keep reading, learning, and innovating. I started my learning as a young boy and moved from city to city to improve myself. It is this drive that realizes improvements.
You are a person of great influence. If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂
Respect one another. It’s a concept from biblical times, but one that needs daily reminding