From the very beginnings, several painters cooperated spontaneously to decorate the show and fitting rooms of the historic boutique in Via Condotti, with their pictures, drawings, engravings and ceramics. Afro, Gentilini, Savelli, Fougeron, Del Fabretto, Scordia, Quaglia, Cagli, Leoncillo, Leonor Fini, Stan Lepri, Picasso, Modigliani, Capogrossi, Beppe Guzzi, Cocteau, Matta and many other artists belonging to world celebrity, were all friends to Battistoni and are now well represented in the shop by 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 school of Fine Arts. Guglielmo would eventually prefer his ‘side’ activity and concentrated on being a fashion designer rather than pursuing his artistic vocation: how sound was this decision, time has well told.
While all the connaisseurs were to pay a visit and tribute to Battistoni’s talent in perfecting a suits’ cut and shirts collars (the inimitable reverse-stitched rim), quite a few artists, writers and actors unconsciously, by the frequency of their visits, became “adopted” by Battistoni. So much so 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, but behind which 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 shop; when Steinbeck was to take notes for his ‘East of Eden’, he would do so at his favourite Battistoni desk, wearing his famed Battistoni check shirt. Humphrey Bogart kept a bottle of his preferred whiskey in a cabinet at the shop, as if he had joined a club, while Gentilini and his circle of friends would keep long tabs, indirectly having the House of Battistoni sponsoring their trips and their art. 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 silversmiths’ shops, and in front of Palazzo Torlonia, designed by Bernini, by the Sovereign Military Order of Malta, by the old Alinari shop, dwelling of Roman iconography. Arrived so far, facing the seraphine in the limpid courtyard’s fountain, and near the unique works of art adorning the Battistoni atelier, here they come. Princes and queens, tycoons, aristocrats, the actor of the moment, the writer, the celebrity, the poet and the entire Beau Monde! One after the other, the most charming (possibly Kirk Douglas) along with the shyest (almost certainly Ben Kingsley), all equally treated by Guglielmo Battistoni, with that spontaneity and disenchantment that makes the true Roman perfectly at ease in front of a head of state or a peasant. The list would be endless: Luchino Vis- conti and John Ford, Gianni Agnelli and Rockefeller, Moravia, Malaparte and Jean Cocteau, Tyrone Power and De Sica, Ingrid Bergman and Audrey Hepburn, Josephine Baker and Anna Magnani, Hermes and Lagerfeld, Dado Ruspoli, Prince Torlonia, Prince Orsini, and the list carries on. Today these stories, at times narrated by old clerks or Mr. Battistoni, are silently reflected into the walls and mirrors, and they charmingly permeate Battistoni’s Rome store with their subliminal tales.
One morning, one of Guglielmo Battistoni’s assistants came in all excited waving a letter, that was just received, carrying a crest. 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 last king of Italy, His Majesty the Emperor of Persia, His Royal Highness Philipp of Hesse, the Prince d’Arenberg, the Dutch Prince Bernhard, 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.