MILAN – Her sleek figure – iconic red socks included – her encyclopedic knowledge of fashion, as well as her diplomacy, will be deeply missed by the Italian fashion circuit.
On Saturday, a few days before turning 93, Beppe Modenese, born in Alba, died in Milan.
Dubbed in 1983 by legendary editor John B. Fairchild on WWD “the premier of fashion”, Modenese was recently Honorary President of the Italian Chamber of Fashion.
His fashionable carer started in the 1950s in Florence working with Giovanni Battista Giorgini and together they organized the historical spectacle at the Sala Banca of Palazzo Pitti in 1952 which saw the participation of Roberto Capucci and Emilio Pucci among others.
In 1953, he was one of the founders of Sindacato Italiano Alta Moda, which then became the Italian Chamber of Fashion, which he headed for many years.
After a few years spent working for Esteé Lauder and for Chanel, in 1978 he created MODIT, an institution dedicated to the organization of fashion and lifestyle events.
“I met Beppe Modenese at a time when everything in Milan was an invention, a discovery, a project for the future,” said Giorgio Armani. “None of us was Milanese: I came from Plaisance, Beppe from Piedmont and that perhaps gave us more enthusiasm, the desire to invent a life and a profession that we tried and tested, day after. day. Beppe treated public relations with the elegance and taste that everyone has always appreciated, but also with a different organizational and, I would say, political vision. A system had to be organized: ready-to-wear, and he did it so well that he still wears his mark today.
A saddened Ferruccio Ferragamo, president of the company Salvatore Ferragamo, said Modenese “never backed down, he was always available to encourage and give direction. I will always be grateful for his advice and support. He always saw the positive side of things, he was nice and calm and had a charming smile.
Asked about an example of the type of advice Modenese provided, Ferragamo said: “He respected the brand and believed consistency would always be rewarded, and I couldn’t agree more – this is very true and not taken for granted. . He expressed his concepts in a clear and concise manner. He was a fantastic person and he did so much for the institutions and for Italy.
“Beppe Modenese contributed as a person to the birth of the Italian fashion system and led, with extraordinary visionary ability and a pragmatic spirit precious to the construction of the system, the affirmation of Milan as the capital of fashion and encouraged to new talents. He was rightly called the Prime Minister of Italian Fashion and defined the contours of a system that is unique in the world. Today we are losing a reference figure and an icon, many of us are losing a generous friend, ”said Carlo Capasa, president of the Italian Chamber of Fashion.
“We will miss his intelligence and elegance, his sense of humor and his wit, but Beppe leaves us a beautiful heritage to honor and a fine example to follow, also for the new generations. The Camera Nazionale della Moda Italiana, in all its components, greet him with immense gratitude and immense affection, ”concluded Capasa.
Beppe Modenese has spent her life with longtime partner architect Piero Pinto, who died in 2018, and Rosita Missoni said she couldn’t talk about Modenese without thinking of Pinto. “They were in symbiosis, everything changed for Beppe after Piero’s death.
The Missonis, including the late Patriarch Ottavio, affectionately known as Tai, were friends with Modenese and Pinto, and in fact Rosita said they rarely talked about fashion when they met for long, leisurely lunches. “Beppe and Piero shared with us the taste of home – one of their homes was in the hills outside Varese. [not far from the Missoni’s headquarters and home in Sumirago]. Pinto helped us decorate our homes in Venice and Milan. They themselves had a beautiful house on the Grand Canal. We have shared so many beautiful memories.
Her daughter Angela said Modenese had “always been a part of my life and the life of my family. He was extremely elegant and diplomatic, otherwise he could never have achieved what he did.
She praised him as “a visionary. A man of great charm, he created an organization with a vision, inked relationships with trades, thinking of a modern Milan, transforming it into a capital of fashion, but he was also like an affectionate uncle, he gave me always supported, sitting in front of our shows, the first to come backstage and congratulate us.
Laudomia Pucci highlighted Modenese’s “sustained curiosity” and how he continued to support the industry by attending all of the shows. “He had so many great stories to tell and he told them lucidly, without embellishment. She said Modenese praised her father Emilio Pucci “for being an innovator and encouraged me in his belief in the value of the brand – and always with a smile.”
“He always gave his opinion in a balanced way and it was always relevant,” continued Pucci. “But he had this delicacy and generosity of a friend, he didn’t help as an institution but as a friend, which is rare in the fashion system. He was warm and had a strong sense of humor, always with an upbeat outlook. With his balanced vision, he accompanied the industry and managed to keep it united – we owe it to him. And he encouraged novelty.
“He was greatly appreciated and many expressed their gratitude for his help and support,” said his nephew Alessandro Modenese. “He has succeeded in creating a sense of unity and belonging among members of the industry, creating a system. Yet he has always been discreet and measured, always underestimated.
Among other distinctions, Modenese received the Cavaliere Prize from the Italian government and in 1994 the Ambrogino d’Oro Prize from the city of Milan.
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