AI is cool but can it tailor a $50,000 suit?

By Rachel Sanderson

06 Jan 2023 · 4 min read

Editor's Note

The life and death of a feted Neapolitan clothier has something to say about the future, claims Bloomberg columnist Rachel Sanderson. Fine craftsmanship will always be appreciated, even in our AI age.

In the winding streets off the Bay of Naples lived and worked Cesare Attolini, the great master tailor of the soft-shouldered suit. The maestro, who died in November at 91, numbered among his clients A-listers from movies past and present: Clark Gable, Al Pacino, Marcello Mastroianni and Denzel Washington. At his funeral a month ago, actor Toni Servillo wore the canary yellow blazer that adorned him in the Oscar-winning movie "The Great Beauty."

With his passing, Attolini joins an Italian pantheon that includes the likes of Michele Ferrero, who created Nutella, and Leonardo Del Vecchio, the icon of the modern eyewear industry. That's to say, he became the latest in a long line of overachievers of Italy's postwar period to depart the stage. But Attolini's life and death have something to say about the future, specifically a lesson about the pleasures of craft and career for our AI age. As digital technology becomes more pervasive, a sense of touch and humanity will be more sought after. For that reason, Attolini's death may well mark, not the end, but the beginning of a new age of master craftsmanship.

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