From the very beginnings, several painters cooperated spontaneously to decorate the store and fitting rooms of the historic flagship store on Via Condotti with their pictures, drawings, engravings and ceramics. Schifano, Guttuso, Afro, Gentilini, Savelli, Fougeron, Del Fabretto, Scordia, Quaglia, Cagli, Leoncillo, Fini, Lepri, Picasso, Modigliani, Capogrossi, Guzzi, Cocteau, Matta and many other artists were all friends to Battistoni and are now well represented in the store with their typical works. This passion is confirmed by the Guglielmo Battistoni Foundation, created by Gianni and his sister Simonetta, to support young artists chosen by an international jury; a link with the founder who designed shirts to pay his way through Rome’s Academy of Fine Arts. Guglielmo would eventually prefer his ‘side’ job and concentrated on being a master tailor rather than pursuing his artistic vocation: how sound was this decision, time has well told.
While all the smart world was to pay visit and tribute to Battistoni’s perfection in suits’ cut and shirts collars (the inimitable reverse-stitched rim), quite a few artists, writers and actors unconsciously decided by the frequency of their visits, to become adopted by Battistoni. So much that Guglielmo yesterday – and Gianni and Simonetta today – undersigned ‘certificates of friendship’, with well targeted generosity. They consist of a sort of chivalric order, with no emblems or decorations, where only talent and personal qualities count. It is so that when Mr. and Mrs. Chaplin chose their neckties and shirts, they would just add onto their tab at the store; when John Steinbeck was to take notes for his ‘East of Eden’, he would do so at his favourite desk in the store, wearing his famed Battistoni check shirt. Humphrey Bogart kept a bottle of his preferred whiskey in a cabinet, as if he had joined a club, while Franco Gentilini and his circle of friends would keep long tabs, indirectly having the House of Battistoni sponsoring their trips and their art. Imagine Roman style pouring down from Trinita’ dei Monti and the Spanish steps to the heart of the city, like a river touching Piazza di Spagna and streaming down Via Condotti, the Caffe’ Greco, the silver smiths’ shops, and in front of Palazzo Torlonia, by the Sovereign order of Malta, by the old Alinari shop. And at this point, facing the aquatics in the limpid courtyard fountain and near the unique works of art adorning the Battistoni atelier, here they come: Princes and Queens, artists, tycoons, aristocrats, legendary actors, writers, poets, celebrities and the entire Beau Monde! One after the other, the most charming (Kirk Douglas?) along with the shyest (Ben Kingsley?), all equally treated by Guglielmo Battistoni with that spontaneity and disenchantment that puts a true Roman perfectly at ease in front of a head of state or a peasant. The list would be endless: Luchino Visconti and John Ford, Gianni Agnelli and John Rockefeller, Alberto Moravia and Michelangelo Antonioni, Curzio Malaparte and Jean Cocteau, Tyrone Power and Vittorio De Sica, Ingrid Bergman and Audrey Hepburn, Josephine Baker and Anna Magnani, Jean Guerrand Hermes and Karl Lagerfeld, Dado Ruspoli, Princes Torlonia, Princes Orsini and the list continues to grow, happily so. Today these stories, at times narrated by old clerks and Mr.Battistoni, are silently reflected into the walls and mirrors and charmingly permeate Battistoni’s current store with their subliminal tales.
One morning, one of Guglielmo Battistoni’s assistants came all excited at him flashing a letter, that was just received, carrying an aristocratic emblem. A member of Spain’s high aristocracy was to thank and praise Battistoni for its craft. Guglielmo Battistoni kindly smiled, and invited his collaborator to go back to work with more zeal after such an acknowledgment. This noted, throughout its history, Battistoni has strived to meet the highest standards in terms of skills, quality and style. Such a commitment to excellence – attained by serving both, and equally, tradition and innovation – could not go unnoticed by the Royal and Aristocratic circles, allowing the House to receive awards and formal endorsements from – among others – His Majesty Umberto II, His Majesty the Emperor of Persia, His Royal Highness Filippo d’Assia, the Prince d’Arenberg, the Dutch Royal Family, the Royal Court of Sweden. All compliments that, far from flattering the House to some self-indulgence, have always – on the contrary – stirred the Battistoni family and all its collaborators into more dedication to pursue ever increasing standards and more challenging goals.