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ARKIB : 01/11/2004

Tie-makers to the mighty, the Marinella family publishes an album

NAPLES (Italy) - What do John F. Kennedy, Jacques Chirac and Mikhail Gorbachev have in common? Ask the Marinella family, who have been creating neckties for the rich and famous for the last 90 years.

The family's products have adorned the necks of politicians, noblemen, tycoons, artists and poets. A new book will shortly show the world what a Marinella tie looks like, with the proceeds going to charity.

Both Republican Presidents George Bush 1 and 2 and their Democratic counterparts JFK and Bill Clinton have been clients. Closer to home, French Presidents Mitterrand and Jacques Chirac and Russian leader Mikhail Gorbachev have sported Marinella products.

The business is now run by founder Eugenio Marinella's grandson Maurizio who says the secret of success lies in the fact that there is only one tie and accessories shop, in Naples, deeply rooted in the culture of the city.

``All our clients come to Naples,'' said Maurizio who, like his grandfather and father Luigi, started at an early age in the business.

``We don't take orders over the Internet or by post. We refuse all this new technology. In the same way we don't advertise. We are known by word of mouth.''

The Agnelli family of Fiat fame, Greek shipping tycoon Aristotle Onassis, the American Rockefellers, poet Gabriele d'Annunzio. filmmaker Luchino Visconti have all been clients.

The business overlooking the bay of Naples was founded by Eugenio in 1914. He was not rich but he had a wealth of ideas. Now a Marinella tie is as Neapolitan as pizza or O Sole Mio.

``A Marinella tie is not a fashion item: it's something that lasts for ever,'' said Neapolitan writer Luciano De Crescenzo.

``We open every day at 6:30 am so customers can come before the pressure of work,'' said Maurizio, who insists his 13 staff ``be of good character, cheerful and optimistic''.

The 90th anniversary book will be made up of black and white photographs, taken by Fredy Marcarini, of the knots of 50 ties created for international political, industrial, artistic and show business celebrities.

``Thanks to the knot one can understand a great deal about someone's personality, mood and soul,'' said Maurizio.

``You could almost say:'Tell me what how you knot your tie and I'll tell you who you are','' he said.

He has no prejudice about colour or style, large or small size, silk or cashmere. But the customer will need 90 euros ($115) if he wants to leave the shop with one.

``My dream used to be to open a shop in Paris like the one in Naples,'' he said.

``I found a place opposite the Georges V hotel (off the Champs Elysees) I wanted to buy but the owners didn't want to sell.

``So the hotel offered me a small space to establish a presence and we sell 50 ties a month there.''

He also has a showroom in Milan in the north of Italy but has resisted plans to expand, preferring to remain ``the king of ties in Naples''. - AFP

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