Roberto Menichetti: Sexiest Fashion Designer
11/13/2000 at 01:00 AM EST
As the design wiz who has taken the 144-year-old British fashion house Burberry from musty to must-have in the past three years, Roberto Menichetti, 34, likes to say, "I have one foot in the past and one foot in the future." But truth be told, most folks are less interested in his feet than his other body parts: the light brown eyes, the long dark hair, the muscular 6'1" frame. "People are totally attracted to him," says Burberry CEO Rose Marie Bravo, who recruited Menichetti, a former designer for Claude Montana and Jil Sander, to be her creative director. "When he walks into a room, he makes a statement." Menichetti's friend Alvaro Palanga, a filmmaker, adds, "He's like a knight. He gives the sense that he can help you." In fact, Menichetti is inspired by tales of knights. "When I saw the symbol of the knight on the Burberry logo, I knew there was something strong for me there," says the designer, who was born in Buffalo, N.Y., but moved as an infant with his Italian parents, Fernando, 79, an engineer, and Yvonne, 65, a clothing manufacturer, to the medieval town of Gubbio in central Italy. Although the company is based in London, Menichetti remains in Gubbio, where his atelier is upstairs from his mother's factory, which manufactures the Burberry women's line. An avid motocross competitor, Menichetti is known to return from a ride through the local hills with handpicked flowers for the women in his office. As for the women in his life, he says, "When I am with a woman, I am thinking every day, every night, every moment, about what would be nice for her." Easy, gals; the girlfriend gig—taken for now—may not be as good as it sounds. "My mother always says, Tity the foolish woman who marries you. You're like a volcano, so full of energy. She'd better be as strong,' " he says. "She's playing—but she knows me well."