Life of Leather (and Leisure)

Tod's CEO on The Finer Things

Few people are more familiar with la dolce vita than Diego Della Valle, CEO of the luxury leather empire Tod’s, founded by Diego’s father Dorino in the late 1920s. Sartorially, Della Valle is a man of habit, wearing Marinella ties available only in Italy, grey suits by Caraceni, and of course, Tod’s shoes (he has over 50 pairs). Yet he lives in the fast lane, cruising around in his trio of yachts (including JFK’s classic cruiser), flying in his private helicopter to Harry’s Bar in Venice for Bellinis, or popping out for a spin in his grey Ferrari. Marrying traditional values with a modern outlook, Della Valle is the ultimate ambassador of his brand. We asked the Italian gentleman what he considers most iconic and grand.

You own JFK’s “Marlin” boat. Was he a big inspiration to you as a young man?

There are a few people that I consider “iconic.” JFK represented the American dream, which was translated and interpreted all over the world. With his charismatic energy and charm, he fought to give to his country justice, freedom and peace.

What is your favorite luxurious experience in America?

Prime rib at the classic steakhouse Peter Luger in Brooklyn, New York.

Who are your style icons of the moment, and what makes someone a Tod’s icon?

There are many—Queen Rania of Jordan is one. She embodies a refined and contemporary elegance and embraces the core values of life that are inherent to Tod’s.

You own a Ferrari. Do you consider that the epitome of cars?

A Ferrari is surely an icon! As is the Vespa Piaggio.

What’s your favorite way to travel—by land, air or sea?

Most of the time I travel by plane. For me, the plane is not only a place where I can relax but also where I can reflect on new projects.

Tod’s just presented its fall 2010 collection at Villa Necchi in Milan. Why is this building so important in your view?

Villa Necchi is a perfect example of an Italian home where you can smell tradition, good taste and great sense of design. It has a wonderful heritage and is as beautiful and contemporary today as when it was built in the 1930’s.

Why do you think the Gommino driving moccasin is still so popular?

It’s a casual, chic shoe that can be used anytime and everywhere—by the young and young-at-heart—and it has become an icon.

You’ve said that you’d be interested in being a photographer if you weren’t doing what you do now. What is it about Elliott Erwitt’s work that you find so iconic?

Erwitt’s pictures are timeless and full of style. They tell a story of excellence over time, of life at its simplest and purest. The images are a powerful and beautifully rendered photographic testimony of distinction and tradition.

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  • Franco De Rose
    impeccable taste and Italian... the best things in the world are from Italy

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