Choosing the perfect gift is both an art and a science. It’s a skill requiring an intimate knowledge of the person the gift is intended for, a generous measure of good taste and sense of style, along with a certain shopping savvy. If anyone has what it takes, it’s these five trailblazers of art, culture, and design: Niccolo Ricci, Michael Kors, Sevan Agopian, Paolo Fazioli, Mathilde Thomas. From ponies to psychedelic jumpsuits, these visionaries fess up on gift successes (and fails), special memories, enduring holiday traditions, and share their best gift-giving tips.
Interviewee: Niccolo Ricci
Occupation: CEO of Stefano Ricci
Home Town: Florence, Italy
This Florence-based menswear and accessories brand was founded in 1972 and has since given new depth of meaning to the word “luxury”. Stefano Ricci is still run by its founder and designer Stefano Ricci, together with his wife Claudia and two sons, Niccolò and Filippo. With over 65 boutiques around the globe, Stefano Ricci brings fine Italian craftsmanship and timeless elegance right to our doors.
What’s the most unforgettable gift you’ve ever received?
This was a gift that I received along with my brother Filippo, from our father—a 1933 Aston Martin.
Are you good at choosing gifts for other people?
When I’m asked to choose a gift for a person that I know, I always consider the recipient’s hobbies and passions so that I can find an item that really has special details. It doesn’t always mean the most expensive gift, but the one that will be most appreciated.
What’s the most successful gift you’ve ever given?
A pony named Pioggia (Rain) for my daughter Aurora, when she celebrated her third birthday.
What’s the worst gift you’ve ever received?
A great French wine from 1997. When I opened it to celebrate with friends, I was upset because it was corked!
Any special traditions you or your family have for important holidays?
Italy is the country of traditions. Christmas lunch is still conducted now as it was when I was small, with the family going to eat at Grandma’s house. We have the same menu, our close relatives, and the happiness of seeing the children playing under the Christmas tree or in the decorated Great Hall. Our phones are all turned off as well for this holiday.
Is there any item of yours that you would like to pass on to your great-great-grandkids?
That would be a watch that was given to me for my graduation, but I won’t reveal the brand or model!
What advice would you give to our readers on giving gifts?
Always try to be original, and take the time needed for the gift, especially by writing an authentic greeting card. Even a simple phrase can be enough, if it comes from the heart. Try to be there when the person receives the gift: not to ask them if they like it, but as a sign of your affection. And if the reader needs a suggestion, I would say to consider a beautiful pair of Stefano Ricci cufflinks!
Read more gift-giving tips from Michael Kors, Sevan Agopian, Paolo Fazioli, Mathilde Thomas.