Text by Valeria Racemoli, Photo by Claudia Falcomatà [Bologna] // 24.06.2012
I met Gianfranco for the first time almost a month ago when I took two of my closest friends, who were visiting, to see his shop, Tatler. On his business card it reads that Tatler is a man's perfume shop. But it's just much more than this, and I am sure anyone who's been there even just once would agree with me. So Claudia and I went back a couple of weeks later to interview Gianfranco. I had an all series of questions ready in my mind, and they simply went out the window as we started talking about life, exhibitions, Christmas lights...
Gianfranco: "I don't know how I started Tatler. I know I wanted to have my own place, and that I wanted it to be a space to share interests with other people. I am not a shopkeeper. I don't feel like one. What you see in this shop is mine, yes, but it is not really. I am not particularly attached to anything that you see in here, except for the smell that this place has. People company is what really count for me. People come because they enjoy spending time here, maybe sitting on the couch, in winter time, close to the wood stove chatting or just relaxing. The purchase is something that comes, eventually, as a consequence to all of this."
Gianfranco: "A couple of days ago I went to Comacchio with two friends, Marianna and Eleonora. We were having lunch with a painter, Luca Zarattini, who also did an exhibition here some time ago, when Marianna started recalling how we met. It was by the time I had open the shop, because she remembered the cold; she said:
'I was walking down the street with a friend when I saw it and I ask myself what is it?, so we walked in. We started talking and then Gianfranco opened the trap-door that takes to the cellar downstairs. As I walked in I immediately thought that this was a great space for an exhibition, so I asked him his namecard and that's how we started our collaboration.'
You see, I could have said no to her, that I wasn't intested or I don't know ... that I had just open, but I didn't so we organized here the first exhibition, that was a beautiful photographic one of Silvia Cicconi, and now it's a regular thing when you come here there's always some art thing going on, some new collaboration."
Gianfranco: "When I decided to open Tatler, I didn't say anything to anyone. I didn't ask for advises. I didn't want them. You know, people are generous with advises and some of them are actually punctual and right ... so inevitably you start thinking about them and ... The think is that I wanted to make my own mistakes and to do exactly what I wanted to do. A place where to meet new people and old friends, a place to share. Fragrances work just as trait d'union to link all my interests, and this is probably why I chose them, because they can go well with anything, art, people, books..."
Gianfranco: "All sort of people come to Tatler. Business man as well as young people who are still studying or have just got a job (or lost it). We talk, about life, about the current situation in Italy, about ideas. Someone asks me for advises. What I personally think is that we should always try to fly high, to have strong ideas that guide us and to keep following them. And be honest with ourselves even when things are difficult to admit."
Gianfranco: "A friend of mine once told me that this place is like a crossbreed, because you can walk in and imagine to be in the 30s or the 50s of the 60s just depending on what's in your mind. I don't place things around following a pattern or aiming at creating a certain style. There is no attention for details. Everything is just out of passion. The books that you see here are mine. You can borrow them if you want. To be honest I don't even keep track of who take them. I trust people. And if I lost one, well...even better, it's culture that goes around."
Gianfranco: "Last winter a young band from NY, Widowspeak, played here, down in the cellar. It was incredible. So many people and the acoustic was amazing. After the concert they came to tell me how much fun they had and we all went for a pizza and some wine ... this is mine reward. To hear that this place has meant something to them. My biggest worry was to pass unnoticed, that there was no difference between before and after Tatler. Fortunatly this is not the case. I guess things just come if you ask, and if you have a smile for everyone. I like to smile."
Tatler is in Via Rialto 29/2, Bologna, Italy.
Here is the link to the complete set of photos by Claudia Falcomatà.