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The Master Tailor of Makati who once made a suit for James Bond

Bespoke tailoring is an art whose audience grows slowly.

“Signore Napoleone, be careful. The suit you’re making now is to be worn by Mr. James Bond.” 

This is what the master tailor at the Roman fashion house of Brioni told Napoleon Arienza when he came to study tailoring in Italy. Back then, he hadn’t known when the movie would be released, or even which movie it was.

This being the 90s, Pierce Brosnan had just inherited the role of James Bond after the franchise spent years on hiatus. The love for Britain’s greatest fictional spy had been rekindled, and the next movie was going to be big. Still, to Arienza, it was just another suit, so he would do what he had always done. Though this one was going to have more of a story to it.

He’d come from Manila to Penne, to learn the art of Roman tailoring at Brioni. Before that, he was a master tailor at one of the local boutiques. And before even that, he was a tailor’s helper, and previously worked in construction to earn a living. 

Napoleon Arienza has spent a lifetime on the tailoring tables, and is one of the few master tailors in the Philippines who can offer a fully canvassed, completely bespoke suit in the Roman style. 

But no mistake, bespoke tailoring is a dying art. There aren’t many who are interested in getting a suit made in this way, and there are fewer still who are taking up the needle to learn how to do it. While Arienza can count politicians, European businessmen, and Pierce Brosnan among the people he’s worked for, this is an art whose audience grows slowly. 

Only, this has not stopped him from passing it on: what he does, what he’s learned, what he plans to do still. 

Get to know the master tailor and his apprentices. 

Producer: Aurelio Icasiano III
Creative Director: Erick Dizon
Director of Video: Brian Monge
Production Officer: Joshua Driza