When G Lorenzi, the Milanese cutler, shuttered its iconic shop on via Montenapoleone in February 2014, those who mourned included not only the city’s well-heeled residents, but also some of its regular, in-the-know visitors. Founded in 1929 by Giovanni Lorenzi, the boutique became a city institution and a global destination. With a stock of 100,000 items, comprising 20,000 different models – knives, scissors, brushes and other variations on blades and grooming tools, sought out and selected by Giovanni’s son Aldo – it was the place to pick up an original gift for a discerning friend.
One local who was particularly crushed by the store’s closing was Guglielmo Miani, president of the Montenapoleone Association, and CEO and president of clothing, tailoring and lifestyle boutique Larusmiani. Miani’s grandfather started out as a tailor in Milan and founded a shop in 1954 directly opposite G Lorenzi. A dashing gentleman who skips about town in Venetian slippers and bespoke suits, Miani is a walking tribute to Italy’s stylistic heritage. ‘I wrote Aldo Lorenzi a letter; I told him I would not accept the closing of G Lorenzi,’ Miani recalls. ‘We couldn’t afford for it to disappear.’
‘He really worked hard to court me,’ admits the 80-year-old Aldo, who had been working in the shop since he was 15. ‘He reminded me of myself when I was young.’ Aldo’s passion for knives was a ‘total love affair’ that sent him travelling across Europe (by Moto Guzzi Galletto and car) and America (by camper van).
Over 60 years, he meticulously curated the G Lorenzi collection, which included 100 styles of nail clippers and 300 different hairbrushes alone. Without an heir apparent, Aldo was looking forward to retiring in anonymity. But Miani’s wooing worked. Aldo finally agreed to sell Miani his leftover stock: 20,000 examples of 3,000 models, including beautiful knives, chic picnic sets, walnut cufflink boxes and regal-looking nut crackers. The precious inventory, and the original shop furniture, have now been transported to the basement of the Larusmiani boutique.
‘It all fits perfectly,’ Miani marvels at the walnut and burl wood glass-front cabinets (lent by Aldo). But what will happen when the stock runs out? Miani says he is considering creating new products in the Lorenzi vein, but with the Larusmiani label, as well as continuing with many classic G Lorenzi pieces. ‘Right now, we’re starting to understand what items we can actually sell,’ he says. ‘We’re in a new space, with new clients. For now, I just want to know this world better.’
‘It was the best of the best,’ Aldo says of his famous product range. ‘I created an assortment that was unique. I’ve done my job. Now, it’s his turn.’
As originally featured in the March 2016 issue of Wallpaper* (W*204)