As a member of the most celebrated modern Italian dynasty, and grandson of the late Gianni Agnelli of Fiat fame, Lapo Elkann could just be whiling away the time in pursuit of pleasure. Instead, he’s out there breathing new energy into the meaning of ‘Made in Italy’ in rather wonderful, courageous and enduring ways.
Everybody should wear whatever they want.
In July 2013, Lapo Elkann was inducted into Detroit’s Automotive Hall of Fame. Anna Wintour, Editor-in-Chief of Vogue America recently named him “the most elegant man in the world” and dedicated a twenty-page spread to the idiosyncratic Italian.
So, how to define this singular influencer? In essence, he’s a charismatic New York-born Italian entrepreneur, former Fiat marketing manager, avid art collector, marketing maverick, advertising exec, global ideas broker, workaholic, kinetic style guru, international jet-setting former wild child… The list is far from exhaustive.
He is, of course, co-founder and Chairman of eyewear and lifestyle label, Italia Independent. Founded in 2007, I-I has stores all over the world showcasing its ever-expanding product portfolio, which includes many collaborations with international brands, such as Swarovski and Adidas Originals, just launched during Milan SS15 Women’s Fashion Week, to mention only a few.
“The brand aims to update the concept of ‘Made in Italy’,” says Elkann. “We draw on tradition, as well as creating cutting-edge products by researching new materials and innovations. Real luxury for us means selling an exclusive global product that strongly expresses Italian creativity and know-how.”
He’s clearly not a fan of cookie-cutter fashion: “Everybody should wear whatever they want. I might wear a tuxedo with a T-shirt and sneakers, because I like it. Elegance and style starts from the inner self—it’s about what you think, the way you talk. Style is honesty and passion.” So, how would he describe himself, then? “A creative entrepreneur who’s happiest when brainstorming new products. When I set up Italia Independent with Andrea Tessitore and Giovanni Accongiagioco, we knew we needed to make people talk, so we launched the first pair of glasses made from carbon fiber, inspired by Stealth, my grandfather’s sailboat.”
Due to launch a new eyewear product in collaboration with Swarovski any day now, I-I famously created Lady Gaga’s Swarovski Crystal Rock-encrusted glasses. “It was a tribute to her ‘polyhedral’ personality! We developed the means of applying Swarovski Crystal Rock to the sunglasses. They reflect the light at different intensities, depending on the angle—perfect for such a multi-faceted artist.”
And what of the future for this one-man ideas factory? “The global future is limitless. You just need to understand what people want.”