Magazine editor, fashion designer, interior designer, artistic director, stylist and gourmet, Sergio Colantuoni is the Italian renaissance man about whom a new term has been coined to encompass his eclectic range of talents and interests: ‘lifestyler’.
To paraphrase the great Prince Antonio de Curtis, best known by his stage name, Totò: You are born a lifestyler, and I was definitely born one. I’ve always been told I’m different, but I’ve never understood what I’m different from—I simply like what I like, and what I like is not based on trends.”
Raised by a family of creative industrialists—his uncle Luigi Colantuoni is the renowned landscape and still-life artist—it was his architect brother Paul who pushed him to study Fashion Design at the Domus Academy. Here, he was taught by great minds such as Gianfranco Ferré and Anna Piaggi. Then Cristina Brigidini, Editor-in-Chief of leading men’s newsstand magazine, L’Uomo Vogue, recognized his unique eye for art direction and soon snapped him up.
It was around this time that Sergio Colantuoni’s passion for cooking emerged, which soon saw him pioneering the marriage of fashion with food in the Italian weekly magazine, Io Donna, supplement to the daily newspaper, Il Corriere della Sera; in fact, his book Lunch is Served! is still one of Italy’s best-loved titles on the subject of how to eat well. Meanwhile, the legendary photographer Maria Vittoria Backhaus had the good fortune to choose him as her stylist, a partnership that has seen many magazine shoots and advertising campaigns over some 25 years. This has been interspersed with invitations from Agostino Poletto, Deputy General Director of Pitti Immagine, to art direct aspects of this influential Italian global platform for the fashion industry. The list goes on: “Now I design a line of suits for menswear label, Caruso, working with Communications Director, Alessandra Alla. I also create environments, fashion boutiques, and the most beautiful tables in the world! And I love editing—collaborating with others on a unique project is similar to working with a great orchestra conductor.”
May 2015 sees the launch of Venice Meeting Point, a show that explores ‘Italianity’—the quality of being Italian. It’s a significant concept for Sergio Colantuoni, who has been instrumental in advancing the esteemed ‘Made in Italy’ trademark: “I believe that it’s our know-how and versatility that collectively empowers ‘Made in Italy’ as a brand. This show, created with Mara Sartore, Lightbox’s Director of My Art Guides, entitled Venice Meeting Point, celebrates the elegance, attention to detail and sense of form that is characteristically Italian.”
It’s this innate sense of style that made him an ideal contributor to the Fashion for Tibet project in support of the charitable work carried out by the Trace Foundation in Tibet. As one of the artists and designers invited to create an object or a cloth inspired by the exhibition Transcending Tibet, his creation is typically eclectic, the result of a group effort:
“The idea for a wool blanket was obvious: it’s versatile and unisex. I love its practicality, especially in winter, when I use it to meditate. The idea was to juxtapose a man in a suit and tie with the head of Bambi—a symbol of fragility and purity. I incorporated Swarovski crystals to add a touch of light, to make it special and magical. Bambi was drawn by illustrator Irene Ghillani and the embroidery on wool came from Elizabeth Ozino Caligaris, while the leather appliqués were created by the accessories company, Most.”
Perhaps Sergio Colantuoni himself is embodied in this extraordinary piece: the self-styled lifestyler’s urge to transform and elevate the world around him is summed up best in his own words: “If you can use your creativity to make life better for others, it’s good to do it.”