Photo by COREY PERRINE // Buy this photo
Photo by WILLIAM DESHAZER // Buy this photo
Photo by CAROLINA HIDALGO // Buy this photo
Even though 2013 was Jonathan Rotella’s freshmen year at the Naples Winter Wine Festival, the young entrepreneur dressed for it like he’d been a dozen times before. In a clean white linen suit, a light lilac shirt and a fun, paisley-inspired tie, Rotella somehow managed to be both classic and flashy and the lenses of local photographers just seemed to gravitate toward him all night.
This year he’ll be back — and once again dressed for auction success.
“I’m wearing a light brown suit this year with an orange shirt and an orange and blue paisley tie,” he dished to us days before the event. “Oh, and I’ll have on fun socks too.”
So how did this entrepreneur-turned-movie producer get so dapper? We asked and he answered.
Did you dress yourself for last year’s event or did someone help you?
I dressed myself. I’ve never had a professional dress me; I pick out all of my own clothes. Dressing well has always been something I take pride in, so I enjoy picking things out. And it’s funny, I actually owned the suit I wore last year before the Winter Wine Festival, but I hadn’t had a chance to wear it. I had envisioned wearing it to an auction when I bought it, like in the movie “Indecent Proposal.” So I wasn’t thinking about the Winter Wine Festival when I bought it, but wearing it to an auction was in the back of my mind.
You mention Brooks Brothers as one of your favorite places to buy suits. What do you like about its clothing?
I consider my style somewhat classic, and I think Brooks Brothers’ clothes really fit that. Also, Brooks Brothers clothed some of our early presidents, and because I’m the CEO and president of my company, I like to think I’m sharing something with them. But I shop other places too. That night my tie was from Zegna and my shirt was by Canali.
When did you first get interested in fashion?
Growing up I went to Catholic school, so while I didn’t wear a suit, I always had on a tie and a blazer. Because of this, dressing nicely was something I was just used to. After I graduated from La Salle University, I did an internship at Merrill Lynch. I would see all of the senior wealth management advisers who were some of the best-dressed men around, and I really looked up to them. I guess since then I’ve always made it a point to dress the part.
Speaking of dressing the part, you’re producing a movie. What will you wear on set?
That’s right. I’m currently working with vintner and writer Robert Mark Kamen on a movie called “Judgment of Paris.” This event was what put the California wine industry on the map. We haven’t started casting yet but we’ll hopefully be filming by July in Paris. I’m a jeans and a T-shirt guy when I’m not working, so I’ll try and get away with wearing jeans and a T-shirt as long as I can while I’m there.
At last year’s Winter Wine Festival you seemed to be dressed right on-trend; where do you go to find out the latest trends?
I actually don’t really pay a lot of attention to trends. I don’t really ever go flipping through a tabloid to see what people are wearing. I’m generally pretty classic in terms of what I choose and I really try to purchase things that I’ll get more than one use out of. Functionality and versatility are my two rules when it comes to clothing. I know it’s not a sexy answer, but it’s true.
Is there an accessory that you never leave the house without?
Actually, there is. I have a ring, a sterling silver and gold ring that I always wear. It’s from the Golden Bear in Vail, Colo. I just really have an affinity for that area; it’s where I spend a lot of my time. The name “Bear” was also the name of my dog, so it reminds me of him.
You’ve owned a few racehorses, tell us about what you like to wear to the track.
There is a fair amount of fashion happening at the track. You certainly can wear things that are a little flashy, especially if you’re an owner. Last year I wore a custom Armani linen suit to the Derby. But when I’m going to watch my filly race, I like to wear something that’s going to match my jockey colors, which are red, green, white and black. My colors are basically the Italian flag’s colors. As for what I’m going to wear to this year’s Derby, I haven’t actually decided — I guess I need to go shopping! I’ve been thinking about doing something with this pair of funky red suede Ferragamo shoes I really like, so maybe I’ll build an outfit around those.
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