Off With His Socks!
Interior designer and architect Chad Graci returned from Rome with a relaxed sense of style.
“Imagine my good fortune of spending a semester in Rome when I was a student studying architecture at Louisiana State University,” Chad Graci says with a smile. “I immersed myself in everything Italian, and when I discovered men wearing loafers without socks I said to myself, ‘I think I will adopt a bit of Italian style, and out went my socks.”
It didn’t take Chad long while he was living in Rome to take note of how spiffy Italian men dressed.
“I liked the way Italian men looked so effortlessly put together,” he says. “I thought they had an inherent sense of style – they just knew what to put together, and they had an ease about fashion that makes the simplest things elegant. It definitely had an impact on shaping my personal style, and, of course, I came back to Louisiana from Rome wearing loafers without socks.”
A degree in architecture safely in hand in 2003, Chad continued his education at the New York School of Interior Design, then worked in New York City and Los Angeles before moving back home to New Orleans in 2009 to open Graci Interiors LLC.
“I love practicing interior design out of my showroom on Magazine Street and being back where everything is a showcase of individuality. I fit right in and my clients have quickly accepted my talent for creating great spaces with my signature traditional, yet glamorously approachable look. I take pride in my keen eye that juxtapositions high style antiques and vintage finds alongside modern pieces, resulting in a rich, collected look.”
He is delighted that Traditional Home Magazine recently listed him as one of its 10 new traditionalists. His work has appeared in New Orleans Homes & Lifestyles and Gambit’s Cue monthly publication.
Christine Graci, his sister and an LSU graduate in interior design, is his business partner. She maintains their office in Houston.
“I enjoy traveling for work or play and I have developed a wonderful group of friends across the country,” he says. “And yes, I still wear loafers without socks.”
As he sits on an antique chair that is firmly planted on a leopard-print rug in his fashionable Lower Garden District home, Graci is wearing a pair of his favorite Ferragamo loafers sans socks, jeans and a blazer. He still has the original pair of Gucci loafers he purchased on his first trip to Rome.
“They are beige suede,” he recalls, then hastens to add, “Now I have many colors of loafers beside black and brown, my collection includes blue, pink, yellow, and green, and I even have a pair of bamboo loafers. Of course, not all have the Gucci or Ferragamo labels, my two favorite Italian loafer designers. If you are going to invest in great loafers you need to make friends with a good shoe repairman because Gucci and Ferragamo shoes are made to last a lifetime.”
Chad is quick to explain that he does know when to wear socks with his loafers.
“I always wear socks with formal wear and with some of my best suits to certain meetings,” he says.
Does he consider himself an individualist when it comes to fashion?
“I do in the sense that I dress for myself. I know how I want to look and present myself,” he says. “Sometimes that doesn’t necessarily align with what is in or out of fashion at the moment, and that is one of the great things about living in New Orleans – everyday here is a showcase of individuality.”
He is aware that the famous designer Ralph Lauren has done a lot to keeping the “loafers without socks fashion” alive.
“He is currently running ads in top magazines where he is dressed to the nines and wearing loafers without socks,” he says, settling into a contemplative assessment of his style. “It is basically classically based and pays homage to the archetypes of classic men’s American fashion. I incorporate bits and pieces of cowboy, preppy, nautical, military, and whatever. All I know is that I’m always true to my core beliefs of how I want to dress. It only took one semester in Italy to help me develop my inherent sense of style.”