A lover of the finest art and the fastest cars, Gianni Agnelli was, simply, one of the most stylish men in history. With his quick wit, devilish charm and elusive style, the eldest son of Italian industrialist Edoardo Agnelli and Princess Virginia Bourbon del Monte was named after his grandfather, Giovanni Agnelli: who was the founder of Fiat.
Agnelli, or ‘L’Avvocato’ (‘The Lawyer’), took over Fiat in 1966. He moved in jet-setting circles, and led a glamorous life packed with riotous parties, sleek yachts, fast cars and luxurious villas. But his eternal footprint is stamped not only on the world of business or opulence, but rather in the world of style.
The Italian’s impeccable taste and (often eccentric) style choices continue to influence gentlemen across the world today, from his winning combination of exquisitely-cut classic suits to those idiosyncratic personal touches of ‘sprezzatura‘. Here’s how to get Agnelli’s look…
Firstly, ensure your tailoring is trim
Agnelli was frequently seen in an impeccable suit; no stranger to Italian tailoring. His signature brand of choice was the iconic Caraceni, with the typically wide lapels of Italian tailoring and a perpetually dapper slim-fit. His accessories, too, were unfailingly elegant — coordinated pocket squares, ties and fine shirts.
If you’re looking to emulate the Agnelli look, this wool-flannel suit jacket, courtesy of Canali, is the perfect place to start. Its Italian craftsmanship makes it a jacket after Agnelli’s own heart; and that wool-flannel material gives it a lighter feel, so it can be worn throughout the summer. For shirts, New & Lingwood and Turnbull & Asser both offer impeccable white options.
New & Lingwood Tailored Cotton Shirt
Canali Wool-Flannel Suit Jacket
Turnbull & Asser Tailored Cotton Shirt
Buy a fine tie, and wear it off-centre
So much of Agnelli’s style stemmed from the nonchalant, effortless way in which he wore it. One particular quirk was his relaxed approach to his necktie. Perpetually ever so slightly off-centre, this personal touch added just the right amount of ‘devil may care’ attitude to his otherwise elegant ensembles.
If you’re looking to emulate this relaxed, effortless aesthetic, Emma Willis has the answer in a cobalt blue, cashmere form. New & Lingwood, too, can lend a hand to your off-centre tie experiments with a small-weave burgundy offering; and Drake’s proffers a patterned option for anyone seeking an extra flourish.
Emma Willis Navy Cashmere Tie
New & Lingwood Burgundy Tie
Drake's Green Tile Print Tie
Invest in a Western-style denim shirt
Agnelli’s off-duty look was as enviable as his formalwear. One signature was a Western-style shirt — always worn with a suave sense of attitude and matching denim jeans. Agnelli, was an early adopter of the double-denim look in Europe and, as we know, denim shirts are more refined than you think…
Brunello Cucinelli‘s Denim Western Shirt is, surely, indistinguishable from any that Agnelli would have worn himself (and suitably Italian, too). Fortela has an alternative offering, if you’re looking for something slightly lighter. Or, for a slightly more muted blue, try popping up the pearls on this Saint Laurent number.
Brunello Cucinelli Denim Western Shirt
Fortela Western Shirt
Saint Laurent Denim Western Shirt
Double up the denim with a pair of the perfect jeans
What else could come next? If you want to do due diligence to Agnelli’s style, you’ll need to add the ‘double’ to your denim. That’s not to say ‘L’Avvocato’ exclusively wore his jeans with a Western style shirt. Occasionally, the Italian businessman would pair his American jeans with sharply cut shirts or blazers, too.
Either way, jeans are a must: and we’d recommend starting with Ralph Lauren‘s slim-fit, slightly distressed ‘Sullivan’ style. Mr P. and Orslow have equally trim options available, both of which cut from tough selvedge denim for maximum durability.
Mr. P Selvedge Denim Jeans
Ralph Lauren Sullivan Slim Distressed Jeans
Orslow Selvedge Denim Jeans
Be sure to wear your watch over your cuff
An icon is nothing without their personal style quirks, and one of Agnelli’s most distinct was his habit of wearing his wristwatch over his cuff. It was a time-saving trick — aspiring entrepreneurs, take note — as the businessman claimed he didn’t ever have time to fold back his cuff to discover the time. Style and efficiency in one glamorous package? We’ll take it.
When it comes to the watches themselves, we’ve got to kick things off with the Rolex Chronograph Daytona, famously sported by Agnelli throughout the 1980s. Today, 50 years after its creation, the chronograph continues to be the number one tool for racing drivers. It’s not cheap, but it’s got Agnelli written all over it.
As has the Vacheron Constantin Patrimony Self-Winding, inspired by designs og the 1950s. And, of course, Hamilton had a special place in the Agnelli’s heart; he was very taken with what was, back then, the first digital watch (the Hamilton Pulsar P2 2900 LED, also billed as the ‘James Bond watch‘, due to Roger Moore sporting it in Live And Let Die); and we have a feeling he’d be just as taken with the American Classic PSR Digital Quartz.
Rolex Cosmograph Daytona
Vacheron Constantin Patrimony Self-Winding
Hamilton American Classic PSR Digital Quartz
Wear your chunky boots on any occasion
A notable style maverick, Agnelli never shied away from breaking the rules of fashion. As elegant in rough boots as he was in a pair of loafers, the businessman was often seen lacing up hefty shoes with his famous grey suits. In one more famous style story, Agnelli once turned heads in the boardroom when he attended an important Fiat meeting wearing battered desert boots with a flannel suit.
Cheaney‘s ‘Jackie III R’ chukka boots are a suave, stylish option that’ll look at home in any sophisticated setting (or a with a flannel suit, if you’re so inclined). It’s a similar story with the ‘Coniston’ style — Crockett & Jones‘ elegant suede derby boot. Alternatively, Edward Green has the ‘Shanklin’, an elegant take on the chukka boot cut from mocha suede.
Cheaney Brown Suede Chukka Boot
Crockett & Jones Coniston
Edward Green Shanklin Chukka Boot