MILAN – His elegant figure, signature red socks included, encyclopedic fashion knowledge, as well as his diplomacy, will be deeply missed by the Italian fashion circuit.
On Saturday, a few days before turning 93, Beppe Modenese, who was born in Alba, died in Milan.
Dubbed in 1983 by legendary publisher John B. Fairchild on WWD “the Prime Minister of Fashion,” Modenese most recently has been the honorary chairman of the Italian Fashion Chamber.
His carer in fashion started in the Fifties in Florence working with Giovanni Battista Giorgini and together they organized the historic show at Palazzo Pitti’s Sala Banca in 1952 which saw the participation of Roberto Capucci and Emilio Pucci among others.
In 1953, he was among the founders of the Sindacato Italiano Alta Moda, which then became the Italian Chamber of Fashion, that he led for many years.
After a few years spent working for Esteé Lauder and for Chanel, in 1978 he created MODIT, an institution aimed at organizing fashion and costume events.
A saddened Ferruccio Ferragamo, chairman of the Salvatore Ferragamo company, said Modenese “never pulled back, he was always available to encourage and offer direction. I will always be grateful for his advice and support. He always saw the positive side things, he was pleasant and calm and had a smile that charmed.”
Asked for an example of the kind of advice Modenese provided, Ferragamo said “he respected the brand and believed consistency would always be rewarded, and I could not agree more – it’s very true and not a given. He expressed his concepts clearly and concisely. He was a fantastic person and did so much for the institutions and for Italy.”
Laudomia Pucci underscored Modenese’s “sustained curiosity,” and how he continued to support the industry by attending all the shows. “ He had so many beautiful stories to tell and he would relate them with lucidity, without embellishments.” She said Modenese praised her father Emilio Pucci “for being an innovator and encouraged me in his belief in the value of the brand – and always with a smile.”
“He always gave his opinion in a balanced way and it was always to the point,” Pucci continued. “But he had that delicacy and generosity of a friend, he helped not as an institution but as a friend, which is rare in the fashion system. He was warm and had a strong sense of humor, always with an optimistic take on things. With his balanced vision, he accompanied the industry, and succeeded in keeping it united-we owe that to him. And he encouraged novelty.”
Modenese, who spent his life with longtime partner architect Piero Pinto, who passed away in 2018, received the Cavaliere honor from the Italian government and in 1994 the Ambrogino d’Oro prize from the City of Milan.