It is not so well known in the United States as its fellow Florence-based luxury brands Gucci and Salvatore Ferragamo, given its focus on emerging markets like Russia, China and the Middle East.
But at a time when the balance of power is tipping eastward, and leaders like Donald J. Trump and Vladimir V. Putin have revived the concept of the unapologetic strongman, the time might be right for Stefano Ricci’s sumptuous brand of oligarch chic.
Consider the eagle: a predator among predators that symbolizes not just fierce individualism in the United States, but strength in China, dynastic glory in the Middle East and ruling authority in Russia going back to the czars.
Which explains, in a roundabout way, why the eagle is an apt logo for Stefano Ricci, popping up on $5,000 Stefano Ricci crocodile sneakers, $1,950 silk-and-crocodile baseball caps and $2,000 matte crocodile sunglasses. The company even uses bronze eagle heads in place of the standard human ones for its in-store mannequins.
“I’m emotionally tied to the concept of the eagle, with its elegance,” Stefano Ricci, 67, said in an interview last week. “The eagle stands for a sense of strength, control.”
That matters when you’re selling $25,000 custom suits to heads of state or $120,000 crocodile shirts for nightclubbing industrialists. To the Stefano Ricci client, clothing serves a psychological function as much as a sartorial one — it must remind everyone, the wearers most of all, that they stand bestride the world like a colossus.
It is that very swashbuckling sensibility, in fact, that Stefano Ricci himself relied on to build his business.
Since 1972, this Falstaffian Florentine — who hunts buffalo in Tanzania, keeps falcons on his Tuscan country estate, and wears a set of ivory cuff links presented to him by a shaman in Africa — has charted his own course, one that seems to cry out for satellite navigation, given that, among its 54 stores worldwide, the company operates boutiques in Yerevan, Armenia; Baku, Azerbaijan; and Astana, Kazakhstan, in addition to those in the standard fashion capitals like Milan and London.
That eastward expansion — a reversal, of sorts, of the Silk Road that once led…