The 2009 International Best-Dressed List

Residence: New York City. Occupation: Actress. Age: 40. Personal Style: “No fuss.” Style Icons: Carolina Herrera, Anna Wintour, and Charlotte Gainsbourg. Favorite Fashion Purchase of 2009: Balenciaga metallic T-strap platform heels. Luxury Boutique: Hermès. Shoe Designer: Christian Louboutin. Bargain-Hunting Locale: The Brimfield Antique Show, in Massachusetts. Handbag: Rouge Hermès “Maharani” clutch. Sunglasses: Ray-Ban aviators. Watches: Rolex and a Cartier Tank. Causes: U.C.L.A.’s Jonsson Cancer Center Foundation, Revlon/U.C.L.A. Women’s Cancer Research Program, the Hole in the Wall Camps, and Not on Our Watch.

Residences: London and New York City. Occupation: Financier. Age: 46. Personal Style: Dark suits, crisp shirts, open collar. Cuff Links or Buttons: Monogrammed cuffs. Jewelry: Beaded bracelets. Watch: Rolex Milgauss. Cause: Founder of ark (Absolute Return for Kids).

Residences: “I spend 50 percent of my time in Milan, 40 percent in Rome, and 10 percent in the village from where my family originates, Valdagno, Italy.” Occupation: Entrepreneur and chairman to enit (the Italian state tourist board). Age: 42. Personal Style: “Solid, traditional, and Italian, with attention to detail.” Style Icons: Prince Charles and Robert Redford. Shirtmaker: “A Milanese shirtmaker called 18.” Jewelry: “I wear a little gold bracelet with my family’s motto engraved on the inside.” Watches: “I have a collection of wristwatches, my most cherished being by IWC and Patek Philippe.” Cause: Vice president and co-founder of the Cystic Fibrosis Research Foundation.

Luxury Files interview
Over the last few years, the luxury market has changed its elite structure, transforming itself into a circus with no ticket to pay to get in. What do you think are the best ways to steer the luxury product back to its correct path?
I don’t think that the luxury market is without obstacles, but would say that today the array of possible clients has been greatly widened and, as a consequence, so have the ranges of products and prices offered. Therefore, in the main, there are now segments within the segment. I think that it is important to have good knowledge of the brand that you are managing and, very fundamental, to understand its correct positioning in order to be able to carry through the most appropriate strategies, above all by virtue of what it is possible to do and not only what one would like to do with the product. I believe that, in truth to itself, the luxury market must accommodate truly exclusive products and should discriminate, being able to recognize what is today called “aspiration to luxury”, where it is possible to find products that are fairly easily accessible. The brands that can really aspire to the top segment of “luxury” are few, and are without doubt those that are today capitalizing on the most important positions.

Business success has not diminished Matteo Marzotto’s commitment to his greatest passion: a charity founded in memory of his sister

Scion of a famous Italian industrial dynasty, darling of the society pages, and Italy’s most eligible bachelor, 40-year-old Matteo Marzotto recently stepped down as chairman of fashion house Valentino SPA. But while he may be changing one job, he continues his commitment to another: the role of joint president of the Fondazione per la Ricerca sulla Fibrosi Cistica (FFC), the Foundation for Cystic Fibrosis Research, an organisation he helped found following the death of his beloved sister from the disease.

Despite an impressive media profile — which grew significantly while he was head of Valentino — Matteo takes a deeply conscientious and down-to-earth attitude to life. Words like responsibility, commitment, determination and mission often crop up in conversation with him.

“I come from a world of businesspeople where the concept of work has always been taken very seriously,” he explains in calm, well-modulated tones, “I’ve absorbed this atmosphere since I was very young, first watching my grandfather, then my father who taught me about rigour and commitment.”

Matteo also praises his uncle Pietro: “From him I learned that work can be a vocation and a mission, and that rigour can go hand in hand with a passion for what you’re doing.”

He acknowledges that he has been lucky with family influences: “Having them as role models has made a huge difference to the person I’ve become.”

The results of this family training were obvious in the professional life of the young businessman, who became chairman of Valentino in 2002 at just 34. Despite being one of the most prestigious luxury brands in the world, Valentino was not doing well. Matteo rolled up his sleeves and set to work to heal the “patient”, as he describes it.

“When I took on Valentino, I already had very valuable experience at Ferré behind me,” he says. However, he faced a more substantial challenge when it came to turning around a colossus like Valentino. “We had to carry out an immense restructuring and reorganisation process in terms of reducing costs, but on a much more fundamental level we worked on repositioning the product,” Matteo explains.

The tradition embodied by the designer Valentino himself, coupled with Matteo’s dynamic new vision, created an explosive success which filled the company coffers and restored the brand to its former glory. “The luxury goods market had changed a lot in recent years,” he says, “having an in-depth knowledge of the consumers we were trying to reach and diversifying the product were the keys to our strategy.”

Valentino’s trademark evening gown is no longer the fashion house’s trump card: “In order to reach a wider public and get away from a niche market, it was important to move into daywear as well,” says Matteo. The businessman and the stylist succeeded in their mission: “We balanced sales of the products which were becoming newly competitive on the luxury goods market. That was our main aim.”

But having achieved all this, the young executive began to consider his next step. “It took years of hard work and commitment, but at this point I think my contribution to Valentino has come to an end.”

Having stepped down from the clothing company, Matteo is looking for a new challenge. While he is reluctant to talk about his future plans, it will definitely be a project that will give his competitive nature the chance to express itself to the full: “I’ll stay in the fashion sector, I’m sure of that, but it’s too early to make a decision yet. At the moment I’m just looking around.”

One fixed point in Matteo’s life seems to be his role as joint president of the Foundation for Cystic Fibrosis Research, which he co-founded in 1997 and which has Myair.com as one of its main sponsors. This position is very close to his heart; in his early 20s, he lost his older sister, Annalisa, to cystic fibrosis, a genetic illness widespread in Italy but of which there is little public awareness.

“I would say that Annalisa was more than a sister — she was like a mother to me. I’m very grateful to her — she’s my guardian angel.”

Matteo has long been conscious of a duty to make the most of his visibility to promote the Foundation. “It’s a passion for me,” he says.

And in between all the work, social and charitable commitments, how does Matteo handle speculation in the scandal sheets about his private life? “I couldn’t care less. If I have a girlfriend or I have dinner with a female friend, you journalists are welcome to write about it. I haven’t got anything to hide. I live a normal life and I’m happy with myself.” www.fibrosicisticaricerca.it

Matteo Marzotto: I was joking when I said Naomi Campbell hit me
Fashion tycoon insists he's still good friends with model

Naomi Campbell's ex has withdrawn comments he made on Italian TV about how she allegedly abused him during their 8-month relationship.
'You've got to be able to take her hits,' Matteo Marzotto told the Victor Victoria Show last week. 'She dealt me some terrible punches.'
But now Matteo insists he was joking.
'Naomi never hit me or was violent in anyway,' reads a statement. 'We are very good friends and talk all the time.'
Naomi, 38, who split from Matteo in 2004, is dating Russian billionaire Vladimir Doronin.
[NowMagazine.co.uk - May 09]