My personal style signifier is a leather belt with a heavy brass buckle that I bought about 12 years ago on Guerrero Street, in San Francisco’s Mission District. I was meeting my friend Giovanni Soldini, the Italian sailor, who was attempting to break the speed record from New York to California via Cape Horn – he succeeded. I wear it most days. 

His white jeans from Milan’s Candiani Denim Store
His white jeans from Milan’s Candiani Denim Store © Claudia Ferri
His style signifier, a leather belt bought in San Francisco’s Mission District
His style signifier, a leather belt bought in San Francisco’s Mission District © Claudia Ferri

The last thing I bought and loved was Beastie Boys Book, by Michael Diamond and Adam Horowitz. In 2010, I randomly met [Beastie Boy member] Adam Yauch in Venice. He was there for the cinema festival – he had a film production company called Oscilloscope – and so was I. A mutual friend, [Italian musical artist] Lorenzo Jovanotti, asked me if I could help him find a place to stay; we ended up spending a few days together and kind of became friends. Unfortunately, Adam died of complications from throat cancer in 2012. There’s a memorial tablet in Westminster Abbey to William Malcolm Hailey, Lord Hailey of Shahpur: “Mature in youth, youthful in old age. Adorned with grace of wit. Wise, kind, faithful in friendship. In all his dealings tolerant and humane.” That was Adam. 

I have a collection of bottles of Blanton’s Gold Edition bourbon, which they say is the best in the world. It started because my cocktail is a Mint Julep – when I find someone in Milan who can do a proper one, I’m happy – then I read somewhere that you can leave a bottle of Blanton’s on the shelf and just watch the value appreciate every year. Let’s see if it’s true. 

Lupi in his garden
Lupi in his garden © Claudia Ferri
His bookcase, with miniature animals from a Milan toy shop
His bookcase, with miniature animals from a Milan toy shop © Claudia Ferri

My style icon is Joe Strummer, The Clash frontman. I saw them in Brixton in 1982, the night Italy won the World Cup in Spain; I had to decide between The Clash live or the World Cup final on TV, at Bar Italia in Soho. The ticket was only £6, but I was so poor that after I bought it all I could afford was a burger from Wimpy. They were a really visual band – their style was smart, neat and tough. What I appreciate most about Strummer was his behaviour, which went counter to the whole rock-star attitude: he was a musician, a wonderful writer, an authentic character. He loved to close the gap between the band and the public. At their gigs it was quite easy to find yourself backstage, invited personally by him.

The last item of clothing I added to my wardrobe is a pair of made-to-measure white jeans from Candiani Denim Store, in Milan’s Piazza Mentana. Candiani supplies denim fabrics to jeans brands around the world, and the Milan store has a laboratory with all the machinery right in the window. They also run the kiosk-bar in the piazza in front of the store, which is a good place for aperitivo in the evening. 

The best gift I’ve given recently was just after my father [the graphic designer, art director and editor Italo Lupi] died in June: I took my mother to lunch at Ristorante Milano, on Lago Maggiore, between Piedmont and Lombardy. It’s in an elegant old villa directly on the water, with a constant flow of Riva Aquarama speedboats arriving in the smallest harbour I’ve ever seen, just the other side of the garden. You can drive there in an hour from Milan and walk along the lakefront, from Villa Taranto and its botanical gardens to the restaurant. It’s marvellous.  

Favourite reads and a small shell gift from his daughter
Favourite reads and a small shell gift from his daughter © Claudia Ferri

And the best gifts I’ve received are the tiny cute ones that Viola, my daughter, gives me. The last one was at the beginning of the summer when she left for Sardinia – a shell with a little love message inside. 

I’ve recently rediscovered – maybe a better word is “revived”– the iconic 4 Ganci, the jacket by the US heritage brand Fay, which made firefighters’ clothes and which Diego Della Valle and his brother Andrea bought in the 1980s. I left journalism in late 2018 to work in Tod’s Group with Diego; he was the first one in Italy to bring on an editor-in-chief to oversee creative content. One of the first things we decided to do together was to bring the 4 Ganci back. We ended up launching Fay Archive, a whole line of outerwear that celebrated the brand’s original DNA and workwear attitude.

The best book I’ve read in the past year is without question The World of Yesterday: Memoirs of a European, by Stefan Zweig, which was published posthumously in 1942, after he died in Brazil. It’s a beautiful, civil book of great ideals that defends an idea of Europe as we would have liked it.

Lupi’s kitchen, with a photograph of Milan by Toni Thorimbert
Lupi’s kitchen, with a photograph of Milan by Toni Thorimbert © Claudia Ferri
Kociss popsicles in his fridge
Kociss popsicles in his fridge © Claudia Ferri

In my fridge you’ll always find really good Parmigiano-Reggiano aged more than 40 months. I never run out. In summer, a large box of popsicles from Kociss, which is an old Milanese popsicle shop right behind my house. They are the best ever, made with real fruit; I love to surprise friends with them. And always one or two packages of grissini from Edelweiss, at Via Teodosio 27, on hand. You have to fight for a place in the queue – people go crazy for them. 

His copy of The Clash’s Sandinista album
His copy of The Clash’s Sandinista album © Claudia Ferri
Artwork in his studio including a Pennie Smith portrait of The Clash bassist Paul Simonon and (bottom) concept art for Apocalypse Now
Artwork in his studio including a Pennie Smith portrait of The Clash bassist Paul Simonon and (bottom) concept art for Apocalypse Now © Claudia Ferri

The works of art that changed everything for me? If you’re interested in the evolution of pop culture in the western world in the past 40 years, the roots are clear: punk rock was the movement that revolutionised everything. That attitude is still there in the music I listen to: simple, fast and true. 

The place that means a lot to me, in general, is Kew Gardens, where my parents had a house in the ’70s, when Kew Green, off the Chiswick Bridge, was a bit more of a suburb. Right now: Lanzarote, specifically the Hotel Emblematico La Casa de Los Naranjos. I discovered it last Christmas, when I was exploring Haría, the beautiful village where the architect Cesar Manrique had his last house and studio. It’s one of the most elegant places on the island, also maybe beyond it.

One of his grooming staples: Clubman Special Reserve cologne
One of his grooming staples: Clubman Special Reserve cologne © Claudia Ferri

The grooming staple I’m never without used to be Bermuda’s Royall Spyce cologne, but now I’m more into another classic, Clubman Special Reserve by Pinaud.

The thing I couldn’t do without is actually very serious: I’m extremely grateful to the scientists who created biologic drugs such as Humira or Adalimumab for people who, like me, suffer from ankylosing spondylitis and other autoimmune diseases. They quite simply saved my life. They’re very expensive but they work incredibly well, and in Italy you get them for free on the national health system. It’s why I’m always happy to pay taxes.

Lupi’s late father’s three Compasso D’Oro design awards
Lupi’s late father’s three Compasso D’Oro design awards © Claudia Ferri

The objects I would never part with are the three Compasso d’Oro (Golden Compass) awards left to me by my father. It’s the most important prize in the design world in Italy. He always fought la voglia di stupire – the desire to simply amaze for amazement’s sake. And he eschewed fame: I remember in the ’70s and ’80s, when he worked for various important clients at the Salone del Mobile, his rule was this: prepare all the projects, be ready for the opening and then go on vacation the very first day. He always protected his privacy.  

I often hear car collectors talking about their cars as pieces of art. They’re not. Cars are simply good examples of industrial design. Art is a completely different thing. But there was an artist in the ’60s who was one of the very few able to transform a car into art: Salvatore Scarpitta. He was in Leo Castelli’s group of artists, and I would really love to own one of his Midget racing cars. 

Lupi in his studio
Lupi in his studio © Claudia Ferri

My favourite room in my house is my studio. I bought this house in 2000, lived here for a few years, then rented it for a while to some Spaniards. When they left in 2021, I moved back in, and I made this room that faces the garden into a studio-dining room, a bit like a little private club. I hung all my favourite photos here. There’s a drawing by Alex Tavoularis, the artistic director on Apocalypse Now – a styling reference for how Captain Willard, played by Martin Sheen, should look in his fatigues. There’s also a portrait of Robert Mapplethorpe and Patti Smith, taken by Judy Lynn in 1969 in New York; several works by my close friend Ramak Fazel, an Iranian-American photographer; and a letter that Valentino Rossi, the nine-time motorcycle racing champion, hand-wrote to me when I was running GQ Italia

Racing driver Johnny Dumfries’s race suit from his 1988 24 Hours of Le Mans victory
Racing driver Johnny Dumfries’s race suit from his 1988 24 Hours of Le Mans victory © Claudia Ferri

My favourite building is Le Corbusier’s Le Cabanon in Roquebrune Cap-Martin, in the south of France, which is pretty much all you need from architecture: simple, elegant and, most importantly, by the seaside. 

The last music I downloaded was The Guardian’s G2 Playlist, from the Film & Music supplement. I was born in 1965, and grew up with punk rock and new wave. I still mostly listen to that kind of stuff, but I find this interesting – they recommend seven new tracks every week, and I keep the best ones on my iPhone playlist. Right now I’m listening to Paramore, a band from that list.

The best bit of advice I ever received? When I lost my father, Diego Della Valle sent me a note with this message: “I believe we all share the same solid and generous values that our parents taught us, and that your father has given you. Let us spread them as much as we can. A big hug.” This is the great thing about working for a company like Tod’s – at some very basic, Italian level, we are a family.

I like looking at Keith McNally’s Instagram profile (@keithmcnallynyc). I enjoy his raw style. He seems to be a bit of an asshole, in a good way, and I love that. (I hope he likes that description, too.) I’m eagerly awaiting his new book, out in May 2024, called I Regret Almost Everything – the “worst book ever written”, according to Keith himself. 

In another life, I would have been… Once it was a race-car driver. Then a car designer. Then an industrial designer. Now, probably an architect. I evolved.

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