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The 30-year-old Italian model, influencer, businessman and actor is the face of K by Dolce & Gabbana. He tells Debonair it doesn’t hurt that he actually likes the fragrance
Eduan R. Maggo
Life sometimes works in mysterious ways. Just ask Mariano Di Vaio. The 30-year-old Italian model has travelled the world offline as a clotheshorse for some of the biggest brands around, and traversed it online as a blogger and influencer —more than six million people follow his activities on Instagram alone.
But his biggest gig — his latest, as the face of K by Dolce & Gabbana — he did a stone’s throw from home. The campaign for the fragrance was shot in Montepulciano, Tuscany, an area he knows well. “I live in Perugia on the edge of Tuscany, and the funny thing is that this is the biggest job I’ve done in my modelling career — and it was just 30 minutes from my house,” he tells Debonair.
“I couldn’t believe it. I fly all over the world but this job was near my home. I ride my motorcycle all over that area every Sunday.”
Celebrated photographer Mariano Vivanco shot the campaign in the picturesque village with its medieval walls and perfect vineyards. Over it, Oscar-winner Ennio Morricone strikes an emotional tone with the soundtrack.
This isn’t the first time he’s worked with the Italian masters of fashion. “I first worked with Dolce a year and a half ago,” he recalls. “One day I was chilling with my dad at his house and suddenly Stefano Gabbana called me and said he’d love me and my wife to walk their runway show. We thought, why not? My wife thought it would be amazing and it was a beautiful thing to do together. We can look back on the photo 50 years from now.”
Di Vaio got to work with his wife, Eleonora Brunacci, on the campaign for K as well, and the pair didn’t have to do much acting to portray a family as they’re also joined by one of their three sons. “My wife and kid, Nathan, are in the campaign. He wasn’t even two years old then. I think he thought the shoot was a game,” he laughs, remembering the experience.
He says he initially reached out to the brand for access to one of their shows. “Dolce & Gabbana perfectly embodies the concept of Italianness for me — Italian values like family, friendship and that unique baroque elegance.
“Initially, when my blog was one of the first professional ones talking about men’s fashion, I asked the designers to attend their show to talk about the collection on the blog. Ever since then, six or seven years ago, I’ve always had the pleasure of attending their amazing events. We have lots in common: values, aesthetic, and a smart and fresh approach to innovation.
“For me, important things are where you come from, hard work and family. I get a lot of that from my dad.”
K by Dolce & Gabbana celebrates a new era of masculinity, according to the brand. “It captures the essence of a man in his element, a man who is the king of his everyday life,” it says in a release. “He follows his own path, cherishing his family and loved ones above all else. Effortlessly charming, and not afraid to show his vitality, he remains true to his roots, respecting tradition while embracing modernity.”
The blend combines fresh citrus notes with spicy pimento and warm woods. As part of the project of fronting the fragrance, Di Vaio got a behind-the-scenes look at its creations. “I went to the lab in Paris because I was really interested to see how it works. What they do in the lab is so complex; I thought it was easy — just mix this with that.
“I met the ladies who made it and they told me about the pimento — that’s the ingredient that pops out for me.”
Of the first thing that pops into his head when he smells K, Di Vaio says: “I think of summer. The first time I smelt it, I thought it was fruity and fresh but then after 20 minutes the fruit goes away and the wood stays.
“I’m very picky about fragrances and I have a well-trained nose so it was kind of scary to do this campaign, to be honest. I have to wear this fragrance and I thought it was going to be very commercial. But actually, I love it.
“The fragrance is very masculine and sexy. I personally love the woody notes. A man wearing K by Dolce & Gabbana is confident, focused, elegant and smart.”
He says D&G probably tapped him for this campaign because they share similar values. “On social media, I only try to be positive. There’s a lot of bad stuff in the world but I’m never going to complain; I just want to show good things.”
His father is also the one man Di Vaio looks up to. “It sounds cheesy, but I’m a romantic. He is the perfect Italian gentleman.”
This quality excites him in the conversation about how the notion of masculinity is changing. “The concept of the old-school gentleman is finally making a big comeback,” he says excitedly.
“Taking care of your skin or hair is not seen as girly any more, fortunately. Masculine beauty is various and it doesn’t necessarily need to have that scruffy, indie-cred appeal. That’s a great change — everyone should be free to be who they are, and I personally love this concept of well-groomed masculinity.”
Work-shy Di Vaio definitely is not, suggested by the fact that his first biography, My Dream Job, has already been published. But while being a model and influencer in addition to running his own fashion company should keep him busy enough, that’s not where his heart lies. “My primary passion is acting,” he reveals. “I love acting and I studied hard to be an actor. I left my home at 18 to follow this dream; I went to New York and worked as a model to pay for acting school,” — at the New York Film Academy, no less.
He already has with a credit to his name, the 2018 comedy Deported. “My goal in the future is definitely to cultivate this passion and take part in a big screen movie,” he says.
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