Barbara Tasca
Article by Barbara Tasca

Roberto Piffer, a young tailor in Venice

I would like to tell you the story of a friend, someone I really look up to, Roberto Piffer.

Roberto Piffer is a young tailor, he opened his atelier towards the end of October 2021, right here in Venice, near Ruga Giuffa, just off Campo Santa Maria Formosa.

Roberto Piffer, photo by Marc De Tollenaere

From a small mountain town called Cembra, in the province of Trento, Roberto fell in love with Venice from the very first moment. After attending the artistic lycee in Trento, where he specialised in”jewel design”, his talent brought him on a first visit to the lagoon city, thanks to an award he
received for one of his projects. “I was enraptured by this city!” And so, after a short time, Venice became “home”.
During his high school years, Roberto attended a cutting and sewing course that he enjoyed greatly; thanks to his teacher Bona Piras he discovered his innate predisposition for fashion, from skirts to trousers to shirts, patterns and paper-patterns, where he could give free rein to his extraordinary creativity. Venice as a common thread was reinforced when he enrolled in the Faculty of Fashion Design at the IUAV University of Venice, first passing the initial and notoriously selective test, and then graduating with top marks.

During an internship at the workshop of the internationally renowned Maestro Stefano Nicolao in Venice, Roberto was inspired to write his thesis on the theme of time in the fashion world and how certain styles cyclically return throughout history.

It took a good deal of courage to open an atelier in Venice, but Roberto says: “if you don’t put yourself on the line and take risks when you’re young, when do you do it?”. For him, fabrics are a gigantic multi-coloured world, though he has a distinct passion for those fabrics that have a weight
to them, a body, a well-defined texture, such as velvets, wool, cotton…. Humility and charisma  go hand in hand in Roberto Piffer, who has already created several projects, including theatrical costumes – he has even collaborated with the Venetian director Mattia Berto – and “second skin capsules”, a collection of silk creations that has won over Venetian women but not only… people in Vienna and London have been charmed by the skill of the young tailor.

Capsule second skin, a collection of silk creations, photo by Giorgia Chinellato, model: Deborah Gitahi

 

Capsule second skin, a collection of silk creations, photo by Giorgia Chinellato, model: Deborah Gitahi

Another splendid collection arrived in autumn 2022, entitled Innocence Recovered.
Roberto explains that it is “a capsule of clothes dedicated to our need of finding the essential inside and outside of us. Pure shapes, lines and silhouettes that come to life in an Eden where you can feel free and light.
Secret gardens and interior architecture mingle with the sound of the water and the reflections of light all around. The garden designed by Carlo Scarpa, at the Querini Stampalia Foundation in Venice, with its sacredness, its energy and its perfect shapes, was an initiatory vision for making this journey…”.

Innocence Recovered, autumn capsule, Fondazione Querini Stampalia, photo by Giorgia Chinellato, testimonials: Emma and Amelia Frison

 

Innocence Recovered, autumn capsule, Fondazione Querini Stampalia, photo by Giorgia Chinellato, testimonials: Emma and Amelia Frison

 

Innocence Recovered, autumn capsule, Fondazione Querini Stampalia, photo by Giorgia Chinellato, testimonials: Emma and Amelia Frison

For the winter season, Roberto Piffer indulged in splendid “tartan” skirts.
The symbol of Scottish tradition, the evolution of the tartan is, however, obscure. Nonetheless, the skill of Celtic weavers has been admired since Roman times; 18 th -century travellers described with amazement and wonder the fabrics produced by the skilled inhabitants of the Highlands, characterised by motifs
with intertwined perpendicular lines, the well-known “tartan”. The “Scottish” motif has become an almost magical skill in Roberto’s hands!

The Clans and Tartans of Scotland, a book by Robert Bain; “tartan” skirts by Roberto Piffer
Tartan pattern
Royal Tartan skirt

Authenticity, custom work, sensitivity and attention to detail: Roberto Piffer is all of this and,moreover, he is for me a wonderful presence in the world of Venetian craftsmanship, a precious bridge between the past and future of this profession.

A small piece: the art of sartori (tailors) in Venice in the past
The tailors’ guild is in fact the oldest among Venetian trades. The “school of tailors” was founded in 1391 and in 1485 came into possession of the body of Santa Barbara, who was venerated in the church of the Crociferi. The Guild of Tailors (Arte dei Sartori) was divided into three branches: dress tailors, ziboni (jackets) and socks; when the Republic ended, it had no fewer than 172 workshops, 279 master builders, 200 workers and 2 apprentices.

The association owned the second altar on the right in the Church of the Jesuits, where four scissors are carved into the marble balustrade, an attribute of the Tailors’ Guild, and the embossed images of Saints Barbara and Omobono, protectors of this art.

Chiesa dei Gesuiti, altar of the Tailors’ Guild, details, Venice

Furthermore, to this day, in campo dei Gesuiti on the marble crowning of a low window, carved within two small ovals, you can see a pair of scissors; and another inscription can be found in fondamenta dei sartori: all these signs testify to the ancient and precious origins of this profession.

a pair of scissors on the marble crowning of a window, Campo dei Gesuiti, Venice

If you would like to learn about the various facets of Venetian craftsmanship, we at BestVeniceGuides will be happy to take you on a itinerary “tailored” to this theme.

Barbara Tasca
BestVeniceGuides
www.thinkvenice.com

If you are interested in booking a tour with Barbara Tasca please mail her directly: barbara.tasca.ve@gmail.com