Matteo Pretolani who goes by the name of Michael, is a unique individual. At first glance many would consider him as odd, eccentric and bizarre but after a second more focused look at his persona and style, it is easy to understand the creative. Through his philosophy and unique way of creating, he combines traditional style inspired by the likes of Charlie Chaplin and Keaton with a more modern practice of tailoring.
Perfectly balancing a wide range of textures, patterns and colours, while the style and design of Pretolani is not for everyone, his own personal style cues have evolved to make the man an icon in his industry. In a generation where being authentic is proving more difficult, Michael keeps it real in the most effortless way.
ICON: There was something else about you, before fashion that separated you from the masses and gave you the opportunity to create your own path? What were you like as a child?
Michael Pretolani: “Since I was a teenager I was very passionate about cinema … passion I got from my father Vittorio. I was obsessed by the costumes the actors were wearing from the infamous Charlie Chaplin and Buster Keaton and during the ’70s and ’80s by the Italian-American directors such as Scorsese, Coppola, Cimino and Depalma. As well as TV shows, like Saranno Famosi and especially the character of Jessie Velasquez … I had so much fun replicating his outfits.”
ICON: Growing up you developed a unique way of interpreting fashion. When did this passion come to life? Can you tell me about your heritage and roots?
MP: “My passion as I was mentioning before has really deep roots, and cinema was my main inspiration. When during the 90’s I started working in retails as a sales assistant in Forli, my beloved city, my passion became [an] obsession and at the end of every week I would buy something new to play with my outfits. [I] always had inspiration [from] the figures I loved [like] Ray Petri and the Buffalo Movement from London.”
ICON: You are effortless in what you do because it appears to come from your inner self. Nowadays it’s so hard to do something fresh or cool. What do you think it requires to be different in 2019?
MP: “Hard question this one… I never stop researching and seeking, as my old professor of aesthetics used to tell me, ‘The research has to always overcome on the structure.’ To be fresh nowadays, you have to be curious but without posing – research research research!”
ICON: Whenever I see a fashion icon like yourself I can always relate them to someone from the past but in your case I can’t picture anybody you took inspiration from. What inspires you? Do you have somebody you took inspiration from?
MP: “I have always had my father as a figure. His love for menswear, the attention on shape and quality of what he would choose – if it was custom made or picked in a vintage market.”
ICON: Let’s talk about Pitti Uomo. I’d like to get a quick opinion from someone who has been attending Pitti pre-social media, pre Instagram and bloggers. Do you like what’s happening? What are your thoughts about it?
MP: “I might come across naive but I do not like what I see. I agree that we are all peacocks, but being a peacock should be used as a tool not as a goal.”
ICON: Talk to us about your baby, yours and Emanuele’s Menadito Shop & Studio. There’s a very particular style, extreme attention to details and layering – mixing tailoring with Japanese style. What’s the vision behind it?
MP: “When Emanuele and I a year ago started Menadito Shop & Studio, we wanted to shorten the production chains. Meaning that we wanted to sell our products straight to the final customer in order to deliver the best in terms of quality and price. Proposing a kit of items makes you improve your wardrobe in depth and not quantity. It’s a new approach for us, it’s a fine process that starts from discovering the fabrics and ends on the final product.”