There are few cities in the world these days with a decent selection of local shops – those that stock goods that are both worth considering in terms of craft and style, but are not available elsewhere in the world. More and more towns are dominated by chains and international brands, and so disappears one of the great joys of travelling.
Fortunately, Naples is not one of those places. There is a smattering of the designer brands. And Neapolitan names such as Marinella and Rubinacci are now sold internationally. But a few local enquiries will always turn up a shop worth hunting down.
Halston, run by Toni Rossi (above), is one such shop. When we turned up, back in March, Toni was just closing for the afternoon. He was bent double underneath the iron shutters, trying to make them come down the last few feet. But he was more than happy to stay open a few minutes more, and swap stories over a coffee. He grabbed a broom from inside the door and rammed the shutters up. Buildings in Naples are not exactly modern.
Halston specialises in cufflinks. They are locally but not expensively made. Each is affixed to the standard, rotating bar back, but the decorative side is made by hand to an individual design, usually conceived by Toni. As the box below says, this is about the communication of ideas. And they are all designed and produced in Naples. “Unlike the Apple products, you know?” says Toni. (Apple products all bear the legend ‘Designed in California. Assembled in China.’)
The designs include tiles that mimic old Neapolitan symbols; fun pieces like ice creams, cars and women; and official pieces for the Neapolitan football team. The key is the huge, eclectic range. “Japanese customers come to me and ask, ‘Toni-san, can you make us an ice cream with a bit more chocolate, or a pizza that is a little more well done?’” says Toni. “They treat me like a cook, rather than a craftsman.”
Halston is much more than just cufflinks, however. He sells cloth, shirts and silk scarves in wonderful variety. He stocks L’Artisan Parfumeur and Creed perfumes. There are some great madder ties, unlined jackets, bow ties and many more silver accessories than a man could ever need.
Toni himself also dresses with considerable flair, demonstrating that Italian knack for making the simplest clothes look effortlessly stylish. On the day we met he was wearing what could have been a somber, business outfit, with navy tie and navy, pinstripe suit. But the roped shoulders and soft Neapolitan construction of the jacket, plus the pop of a yellow handkerchief, made it far more than that. The lapel pin declares his membership of local gentlemen’s group Nove Porte.
Halston is well worth a visit the next time you’re in Naples. You’ll be sure to get a warm welcome, and good coffee.
Photography: Luke Carby