Words by Mr Mansel Fletcher
Mulled wine, turkey, panettone, mince pies, eggnog, gingerbread lattes, smoked salmon sandwiches, champagne and canapés. Given the range of indulgences available during the festive season it's hard to maintain a firm grip on one's weight. Which is tough for men in the northern hemisphere heading off in search of winter sun, and so preparing to disrobe in public. Luckily, those of us unable to resist the allure of festive treats have Mr Jean "Johnny" Pigozzi, the 59-year-old businessman, art collector and founder of the LimoLand fashion line, to show us how to carry it well. MR PORTER met and photographed Mr Pigozzi at his beautiful Villa Dorane on France's Cap d'Antibes and talked about style, colour, size, art and photography. Last year, Mr Pigozzi told Vanity Fair that he only got into Harvard university because during the interview he was able to name the best restaurant in Turin (Al Gatto Nero, he says) and knew which months constitute truffle season (October and November), so it's fair to say that he likes to eat. A quick look at the food-fixated LimoLand Twitter feed confirms the suspicion.
The inspiration for LimoLand, which launched in 2007, was the period in which Mr Pigozzi found himself "buying nearly all my clothes in Harlem, because they have funny colours and big sizes". He decided to create his own range of clothes to address these needs. "I'm very interested in trying to introduce some colour," he says. "Because when I go to shops I only see black and white and I don't understand why. I think men should wear more colours. And I want to offer every size. I think it's unfair when you go into a shop and can't find the size - it's discrimination."
Mr Pigozzi at his home, Villa Dorane, in Cap d'Antibes
"My father bought this house in the early 1950s," explains Mr Pigozzi when MR PORTER arrives at Villa Dorane. "It was built by Tomaso Buzzi and then in the mid-1980s Ettore Sottsass redid all the colours and the furniture." Here is someone living as well as you'd expect a smart and cultured man in possession of a fortune to live. He inhabits beautiful homes (he also has apartments in London, Paris, New York City and Geneva), owns an island off the Panamanian coast that's home to his Liquid Jungle Lab, a research facility run by the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, and a 66m-long yacht called Amazon Express. Mr Pigozzi is surrounded by extraordinary art - he has a 10,000-piece collection of sub-Saharan African art - beautiful women and good music, which pumps out of the sound system around the lower of Villa Dorane's two swimming pools.
It's fascinating to talk about style with Mr Pigozzi, because as the son of the man who founded the Simca car company he was born rich, has always been able to dress exactly as he wishes and has been friends with notably well-dressed men, including Mr Andy Warhol. "The best dressed man I ever met was Gianni Agnelli," he says. "He could be formal but always with a touch of something slightly fun. On the weekend he was not scared to wear some funny clothes, but always with immense style." Mr Pigozzi himself veers between the relaxed and playful style captured here, and Savile Row. "I've been using the same tailors - Anderson & Sheppard - for 30 years, for dinner jackets, blue suits and business suits."
Alongside his work as a particularly successful venture capitalist - Mr Pigozzi was an early investor in the hedge fund and tech industries and remains sharp enough to have invested in Facebook - he's also a photographer of note. His book from last year, Catalogue Déraisonné, is a collection of shots of Mr Pigozzi's famous friends that is so candid it makes the reader feel he is able, for the first time, to see what these celebrities really look like. He has just published, with revered German art publishers Steidl, a monograph on the Malian photographer Mr Seydou Keïta. "I didn't discover him," says Mr Pigozzi, "but I made him famous. He's the most interesting portrait photographer in Africa [Mr Keïta died in 2001]." Mr Pigozzi spent years collaborating with Mr Keïta and continues to work with his estate.
Although Mr Pigozzi has never visited Africa - even his passionate interest isn't sufficiently strong enough to overcome his fear of dirt - he does listen to a lot of African music. King Sunny Adé, Fela Kuti and 1960s-era Ethiopian rock'n'roll are all favourites. "I like African music because it has this incredible energy, it has a tribal drum beat and a happiness," he says. Much the same could be said of Mr Pigozzi's unique style.