Style Icon: Gianni Agnelli, The Godfather Of Style

At Roderer our mission is to create a collection of leather goods of exceptional quality that appeal to the modern gentleman. That said, we’re not interested in fads or trends or what’s ‘hot right now’. We make products that last and so it’s critical they still look stylish in 5, 10 or even 20 years’ time. That’s why we look to timeless style icons from the past to give us inspiration for the present and the future. The godfather of style Gianni Agnelli is one such example. 

If you aren’t already familiar with the name Gianni Agnelli, think of him as the ultimate playboy. An energetic gentleman with untold wealth, boundless charm, intelligence, and good looks and confidence to back it all up. More than that, Agnelli was an Italian style icon who has left a lasting impact on the world of men’s fashion. Many imitators have been and gone but Agnelli remains in a class of his own. The man took two very different ideas, elegance and casual, and brought them together in a style that he will always be known for.


He was named Giovanni after his grandfather, the founder of Fiat, but throughout his life he was known by everyone as Gianni, or rather, as “l’Avvocato” (“the Lawyer”), a nickname he had earned when he graduated in law.

Gianni Agnelli was known for being witty, spirited, intelligent, and a bit of a lady’s man about town. His name is also indelibly linked with Fiat, the Italian car maker, which also owns Ferrari. He was granted control of the company in 1966 and went on to skilfully steer it through post-war depression and industrial duress, guiding it towards financial and commercial success on a massive scale.

Agnelli was born into a very prestigious family with tons of money, and he always knew he wanted to share in that same entrepreneurial and business spirit that drove his own father and grandfather. And certainly he achieved this goal and then some, becoming the wealthiest man in modern Italy. He was known as a tycoon and a royal, the man who was at the mast of corporate life and said what was what. Not just in his company, but in the entire industry. That’s the kind of clout Agnelli had during his golden years of business.

Gianni Agnelli, The Godfather Of Style


Gianni was nicknamed both the Godfather of Style and the Rake of the Riviera for his innovative style. The man stood out from the pack, and his clothing did the same. In a country where personal style is already quite broad and flamboyant, you can imagine that Agnelli had to dig deep to find a way to express himself as someone different and stand out from the crowd. Rather than sticking to the elegant dress code Italians were well known for, he combined various pieces of clothing together to create something new.


Just as the man had no need for rules in business, he wanted none in fashion. His style was uniquely his own. Some of the ways that he distinguished himself from the masses were considered eccentric and even insane. He wore his watches on top of the cuff, as he did not want to have to take the additional step of pulling a piece of fabric away. He let his tie fly into the wind, and dared to wear elegant clothing most casually while still being the most stylish man in the whole room.

Here are a few of the trademark fashion items that come directly from Agnelli.

  • He liked to leave the last cuff button on his jacket undone.
  • He would ignore the need for a tie bar and simply let the tie go where it wanted.
  • Agnelli was known for wearing slippers, sneakers, and other casual shoes with many of his outfits.
  • He might throw on a dinner jacket over a tux, something with lots of color or perhaps crazy designs.
  • Sometimes he would wear his country attire with his business attire, something unheard of at the time.

Agnelli knew the rules, he simply didn’t care to follow them. This is one of the reasons he is considered a style icon, even today. Being a man who can walk to the beat of his own drum is something people always admire, whether they agree with how that drum beats or not.

It is no surprise that the man is well-known for both his business life and his fashion life. The man lived the way he wanted because he could. That meant fast yachts, huge houses, sports cars, and women. It also meant putting on whatever he wanted to because nobody was going to bat an eye. We love this attitude of carefully-planned, reckless indifference. Just because everyone else is doing something, doesn’t mean you have to follow. Walk your own path, stand out from the crowd and be an individual.