MILAN — Lucio Di Rosa is no fan of selfies and you won’t find photos of him posing with the string of celebrities he’s helped dress on the red carpet, from Angelina Jolie and Salma Hayek to Hilary Swank, Reese Witherspoon, Ryan Reynolds, Dwyane Wade or Sharon Stone. “My job is working behind the scenes,” he said humbly, and his passion for and attitude toward his profession, which includes a lot of can-do moments and sleepless nights, have contributed to his success.
“Lucio is the hardest-working, most creative and sincere person in this business,” Stone told WWD. “His long history of relationships within the fashion industry are filled with integrity and a complex understanding of fashion as a business. He is a singular in a sea of many.”
Nine months after launching his strategic branding agency LDR22 in Los Angeles, Di Rosa is expanding his boutique showroom concept with a new unit in Milan’s beautiful and storied Palazzo Meli Lupi di Soragna, dating back to the 19th century.
He’s been carefully restoring the interiors and its frescoed rooms, preserving the original wooden floors, which feature exquisite graphic designs. He will pepper the large salons with Ettore Sottsass artworks and Milo Rau bronze sculptures from his personal collection and fill it with all things Fornasetti, from the mesmerizing and romantic Nuvole wallpaper, with its billowing clouds etched on the panels, to vases, plates and teacups.
“Every detail must show the highest level of perfection and speak of luxury, but at the same time, convey the idea of a welcoming home,” explained Di Rosa during a walk-through of the space and then at his central Milan apartment — also filled with beautiful artworks. “Extreme luxury must be perfect.”
LDR22 Milan is set to officially open on Dec. 4 with a launch cocktail party scheduled for Dec. 13. Di Rosa said it responds to a market need, with many of his clients wishing to have a safe and private haven away from paparazzi and prying eyes, for example after a fashion show, or during fittings ahead of an event.
Di Rosa believes in having a European-based boutique showroom in Milan, within a special curated space to both show product and offer international press office corporate consultancy and editorial capabilities, celebrity and influencer activations, event planning, talent scouting, campaign concepts and direction, and charity partnerships (the first with Save the Children).
“Luxury clothes must be displayed as such,” he said. The palazzo will also work as a location to host celebrity clients for styling requests, with a separate entrance away from paparazzi scrums. “What celebrities want is to feel at home, letting their hair down,” said Di Rosa, who enjoys entertaining and personally cooks for his guests.
A passionate art collector, Di Rosa plans to stage exhibitions at the palazzo, which he sees as a place of experimentation for emerging artists and academy students. He asked art consultant and curator Jessica Tanghetti, who has long collaborated on his own private collection, to supervise the artistic concept of the showroom.
Among Di Rosa’s first clients in Milan are Tod’s; Mach & Mach; Marmar Halim; Des Phemmes; Raul Mishra; The Attico; Taller Marmo; Retrofete; the Mandarin Oriental Milan and Palazzo Parigi Milan hotels.
Most recently, photos of Taylor Swift carrying a Tod’s bag and Anne Hathaway wearing The Attico have been making the online rounds.
Di Rosa said the Milan location was a response to a strong market request, bridging the gap between Europe and the U.S.
He spoke about the “art of pairing” brands to the right celebrity and vice versa, building relationships beyond the red carpet. “I saw that there was a gap in the market and a great opportunity to open in Milan with a unique location,” he said.
Di Rosa leverages a career spanning more than two decades, starting at Giorgio Armani, then moving to Versace, Elie Saab and Dolce & Gabbana. He worked closely with brand owners and creative directors, and consolidated entertainment industry relations, where his focus was on stylists, celebrities and special projects.
“My mission is to connect the dots between established and emerging brands alike with the entertainment industry and key international celebrities, developing long-term, one-of-a-kind tailor-made synergies,” said Di Rosa. For this reason, he’s been called a celebrity matchmaker, linking them with the right brands, but he underscored that it takes months to analyze the companies, making sure there is a vision, a long-term strategy and a strong brand DNA, so that the fit with the celebrity is right. “The kind of dress, the woman and the event must all go together,” he said.
“Lucio is a dream to work with. He truly understands his clients and their brands,” said celebrity stylist Petra Flannery, who has worked with the likes of Emma Stone, Zoe Saldana, Amy Adams and Emilia Clarke, to name a few. “He has an innate way of connecting people. He definitely can impact a brand’s visibility, resulting in countless fashion moments. When he hosts an event in one of his beautiful showrooms, he creates a buzz. People want to come because they love Lucio and they know his touch is gold.”
No mission is impossible for Di Rosa, who has had his share of last-minute drama, such as actresses changing their minds at the very last minute — sometimes switching into unfinished dresses, still with pins hidden through the folds, he said, still cringing at the recollection.
With a razor-sharp focus, he’s learned to keep calm and carry on. He credits his years working with Armani, from 2002 to 2005, and with Donatella Versace for shaping his career. From the former, he said he “learned the rigor and sense of responsibility,” while at Versace, which he joined after Armani until 2019, he still marvels at the “real couture tailoring and construction of the clothes.”
He recalled how, as a young man growing up in Tuscany’s seaside resort Forte dei Marmi, he bought his first Versace printed shirts, passionate about the brand. “I would call their offices and hang up just to hear the way they responded,” he said with a chuckle.
He recalled how he passed Donatella Versace’s first test by fire, as he dressed Swank, Jessica Alba, Uma Thurman and Salma Hayek among others all in Versace at his first Oscars ceremony. He underscored he has never paid an actor for product placement and has no intention of ever doing so.
Leaving Versace, he moved to Dolce & Gabbana to help the brand after its fallout in China in 2018. He succeeded, and when 35 celebrities wore the brand at the 2022 Oscars, he felt it was the right time to move on and take on another challenge: his own personal business, adding his good-luck-number 22 to the moniker.