Walking into Dominic Lacquaniti’s two stores in downtown Naples is, simply stated, an experience. Nestled side by side are his relocated bespoke tailoring shop and a newly birthed women’s shoe boutique. While the pair of stores carry the brand bearing his and his grandfather’s name (D. Lacquaniti), the interior design aesthetic of the retail spaces could not be more distinct.
An aura of refined masculinity emanates from the tailor’s shop. Gold accents complement a backdrop of dark walls, woods, and marble throughout this space, allowing perfectly aligned bolts of colorful fabric to stand out and at the ready for Lacquaniti’s creativity and artistry.
“My forte is fabrics and knowing how to use them,” remarks Lacquaniti, who worked for two different textile companies in Manhattan over a period of nearly 20 years. “You can buy a jacket anywhere. I try to create something different. It’s one of one and [worn on] one.”
Tailoring and Italian craftsmanship run heavily in the Lacquaniti family; Dominic is the son of the late Rocco Lacquaniti, who owned Rocco’s Tailor Shop in Naples. He grew up in and around his father’s business, which was originally located in New Jersey, helping him from the young age of 5.
“I made the mistake one day of asking my dad how much one dollar was worth,” explains Lacquaniti. “He woke me up on a Saturday morning and—without any cartoons—made me work all day at the shop, doing the tedious jobs. At the end of the day, he pulled out a one-dollar bill and said, ‘this is what a dollar is worth.’ Along with learning with my eyes, that was the best lesson he ever gave me.”
As it’s critical to running a business, being profitable is important to Lacquaniti. D. Lacquaniti suits start at approximately $5,500 and sports coats at about $3,500. However, Lacquaniti, who moved to Naples from New York in 2012, says he cares little about selling volume.
“I want to build long-term relationships with my customers,” he says. “The most difficult part of my business is getting to know each client—understanding what they want and need. If I’m going to design clothing a client is going to use for the next 10 years, I must know someone.”
A Good Sole
Lacquaniti started creating men’s shoes a few years ago under the D. Lacquaniti label. After tiring of similar shoe designs for women, he decided to broaden his repertoire and create for the female foot.
“I design shoes I would like to see on women,” he relates. “First, I want to make them comfortable. Nothing is more upsetting than seeing a beautifully dressed woman who can’t walk due to her shoes. Shoes should be happy.”
Lacquaniti also believes in offering his shoes at reasonable prices. “There’s a lot of price gouging in women’s shoes,” he explains. “Let’s make money, let’s be profitable, but let’s not be ridiculous. My highest shoe ranges from $1,200 to $1,300, but others run from $500 to $700. And they’re exclusive; we’re only making 18 to 20 of each per color and design.”
Starkly contrasting the tailoring shop, the D. Lacquaniti shoe boutique is a light, bright contemporary space. A range of dazzling shoes—from mules to wedges to stilettos—in myriad tones and textures gracefully rest upon glass shelving. Lacquaniti designs the shoes, but they are handcrafted in Italy; in fact, the store’s entire inventory is made by only five people in a small factory located in the region known as Marque. To shore up production, Lacquaniti had to journey here to meet the factory owners.
“Italians don’t do business like Americans,” he says. “You have to meet them, have lunch, get to know each other. If they don’t like you, they won’t do business with you.”
D. Lacquaniti Atelier Coordinator Nick Wacyra recently accompanied him to the factory in Italy, noting the enthusiasm among the small group responsible for crafting the shoes. “They care about the shoes,” says Wacyra. “There’s a lot of energy and passion. It’s almost chaotic, but that’s how they make them. They’re passionate.”
After the recent trip, Lacquaniti describes his relationship with the Italian crafters as candid yet respectful: “We celebrated together; we’re like family now.” This family-like relationship will likely constitute an advantage for Lacquaniti, as he has his sights set on creating two new women’s shoe boutiques: one in New Jersey and one in Palm Beach.
“I want small shops based on integrity,” Lacquaniti says. “This is my passion; this is my life.”
Not everyone can start and run a business with their spouse or partner, but Rasit and Ilkay Turk, founders of Turk & Turk, seem to have a good thing going. Both are gifted creatives in the fashion and arts arenas, exhibiting impressive talents from young ages. They met during their college years at a highly revered art school—Mimar Sinan Fine Arts University—located in Istanbul, Turkey, the city where both were raised. Since then, they’ve been designing and creating side by side, eventually manifesting their eponymous luxury silk line: Turk & Turk.
Sacrificing for Style
After graduating from Mimar Sinan, Rasit and Ilkay relocated to the United States. Rasit came first, initially landing in Hattiesburg, Mississippi, where he attended a school to learn English. After about a year and a half here, he moved to Denton, Texas, where he eventually enrolled at the University of North Texas to earn a second bachelor’s degree in pattern making, sewing, and draping. Ilkay, who was finishing up at Mimar Sinan and simultaneously working in the textile industry making scarves, joined Rasit in Texas in 1995 after the two wed.
Even with extremely limited resources, Rasit and Ilkay found ways to pursue their dream of creating couture. Rasit worked two jobs, including one at a gas station and one at the university’s cafeteria washing dishes. Ilkay contributed as well, making and selling shirts and other clothing items using whatever materials she could find. With necessity as their mother of invention, the pair would source textiles anywhere they could, from upcycling fabrics originating from cast-off furniture pieces to utilizing piping cord to create a stitchless evening gown to fashioning pieces, quite literally, from pennies.
With the money earned from Rasit’s jobs and Ilkay’s sales the two would purchase small remnants of upscale fabrics from prominent fashion houses. “There was a seller in Dallas that we would use to get high-end fabrics,” explains Rasit. “He was not well-known. To get access, you had to know someone that knows someone.”
After graduating from the University of North Texas, Rasit obtained a job designing prints for Falcon Garments, where he worked for a period of eight years. During this time, the two Turks participated in various fashion shows, including several hosted by the Design Industries Foundation Fighting Aids. At these shows and others, they exhibited some of their most thought-provoking and imaginative work, including a denim jacket intricately crafted with a system of electrical circuits.
In 2004, the Turk family moved to Fort Myers, Florida, after Rasit was offered a position with Chico’s FAS, Inc.
“A headhunter contacted me to work there,” he explains. “I sent in my résumé, and they called me the next day. I put together my portfolio, jumped on a plane, and went to interview in Fort Myers. After I interviewed, they called me and offered me the job as I was headed back to the airport.”
Rasit accepted the position, and the family made the long-distance move to the Sunshine State. At Chico’s, he quickly rose through the ranks. “I started as artist, then senior artist, then manager, then director,” he details, eventually amassing a 17-year career with the company. Then, COVID-19 hit.
Things changed quickly. Cutbacks were made, including to upper management. Rasit found himself laid off, but as he states, “Everything has a reason; it was a sign.”
The Silk Road
Though Turk & Turk’s luxury silk line was actually formed in 2018, the period of pause afforded by COVID allowed Rasit and Ilkay to turn their full attention to building their brand and establishing a luxurious line that combined works of art with wearable silks. First, Turk & Turk debuted scarves, something Ilkay knew well from working at the scarf company in Turkey. Eventually, Turk & Turk expanded, adding leather handbags, clutches, ruanas, washable silk kimonos, and recently, a home decor line. All pieces are either limited editions or one-of-a-kind and made of 100 percent silk.
Every piece starts with an idea—perhaps stemming from a beautiful city, a piece of art, or something more personal to a particular client. Then, a design is created, hand-painted on paper, and scanned to a computer. Using specialized software, a layout is made, color is confirmed, and other specifications are ensured.
Once finalized, the design is sent off to be printed on the silk, usually in Italy. After, the silk returns in 30-yard rolls, and from here, Rasit makes any needed patterns while Ilkay does the sewing. “My mother was an amazing seamstress,” notes Ilkay. “She never taught me, but I learned by watching her.”
Rasit and Ilkay describe their pieces as “unique wearable art.” While most of their clients are in Florida, they do have international customers, too. “People appreciate our quality, our artistry, and our customer service,” says Rasit. “We want to grow but not too big. This is about money, but it’s not really about money. We want to endure, see happy customers, and deliver a high level of personalization.”