Issue #160

Francesco Di Paolo

Il Ghibellino

Born and raised in the “cradle of the Renaissance” Firenze, Francesco has always been fascinated by the “American Dream” which he was able to fulfill in 2004, when he crossed the Ocean and moved to the neighborhood of Bay Ridge in Brooklyn, with literally few dollars in his pockets. Francesco was able to make a living like all immigrants who came to the “Big Apple” with nothing, but courage and persistence, and learned how to survive the streets of New York. In 2005 he was hired by the luxury fashion brand Loro Piana as a Sales Executive and after a few years, he was appointed as Vice President of North America. Almost twenty years after he arrived in the States, in 2024 he started his own business.

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What do you do in your life (work and fun)?

As an executive in international textiles and a highly motivated innovator of ideas and trends, I manage a New York-based hub that offers high-end textiles and garment manufacturing Italian excellences, called LANA ROYALE. Our portfolio includes a diverse range of Italian clothes. From classic designs to contemporary styles, and luxury fabrics to innovative materials, we have options to suit every taste and purpose. As a representative of leading Italian mills in the US market, we provide access to high-quality textiles and a solid foundation in garment manufacturing, guaranteeing meticulous attention to detail and superior craftsmanship. When I am not working, I like to spend time and have fun with my six-year-old daughter Sofia Florence, an energetic and enthusiastic little woman who loves being entertained by her “Babbo”.

What made you leave Italy and chose New York?

I chose New York because I was looking for a challenging opportunity to prove myself. “If you can make it there, you’ll make it anywhere,” as the song goes. New York attracts the best and the brightest in finance, in the performing and fine arts, in fashion, and in the thousands of other professions that flourish here. When you move to New York, you will enjoy the stimulation that comes from being part of something great and being surrounded by the brightest minds in your field. You can achieve things in New York that you couldn’t accomplish in Italy or elsewhere. Italy is not often considered a top destination for career advancement and bureaucracy and over-regulation made personal initiative almost impossible. Few opportunities are offered to professionals with no connections and many young, educated Italians are leaving the country for better work prospects.

Please share your best memory in the City.

I always like to remember when I arrived in New York, and I was working as a cleaner at the women’s department store Henry Bendel located on Fifth Avenue at 56th Street. One night I was wiping the windows facing the street, looking at the magnificent and luxurious entrance of the Coca-Cola Building, on the other side of the Avenue, dreaming of a better job and a better future. After a few weeks, I received a life-changing offer from Loro Piana which had its headquarters in the Coca-Cola Building, at 711 Fifth Avenue, and I was reminded once again that if you wish for something, sometimes the universe conspires in your favor.

What made you choose this specific location and outfit?

I chose the Riverside Drive Viaduct that runs between 125th and 135th Street, along Twelfth Avenue because, despite the viaduct’s important utilitarian role as a highway, the structure was also a strong symbol of civic pride, inspired by America’s late 19th-century City Beautiful movement. Regarding my outfit, I decided to wear “smart casual” clothes for a contemporary yet formal look.

Your thought about this project, ITALIANY.US

It is an honor and a privilege to be part of this project in the company of many bright and talented Italians who left the Bella Italia and became successful in the US. For those who made America home, the powerful ideals of family have always been at the center of their lives. In the Italian family, the needs of the collective always come before the individual. With this project, Alexo was able to bring together several individual journeys into a large community of survivors, magnificently captured by his great talent in a wonderful Italian family reunion portrait.

How would you describe being an ambassador of the Italian style/culture abroad?

I have never thought of myself in such terms, nonetheless, in all these years spent abroad I have never forgotten who I am and where I come from, and I hope that the Italian heritage and culture that run through my veins have been of inspiration for someone that I crossed paths with.

  • Harlem, NY

    01/23/24

  • Time

    300 mins

  • Shots

    95

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A visual celebration of Italians working, living and loving in NY and in the US