“Nathan Lane was here the other day; he’s a doll,” he says, before rattling off some of the celebrities he works with: Robert DeNiro, Leonardo DiCaprio, Tom Hanks, Ryan Reynolds, Will Ferrell, Hugh Jackman, Will Smith, Ray Liotta, Jim Carrey. “Matthew Broderick was here the other day, too. He’s really such an unassuming guy—I mean, really, he actually called me up and said, ‘My son is graduating. I got to get him a suit. Can I bring him in?’ I said, ‘Sure, of course. Bring him in.’ He’s that kind of a guy.”
One of Giliberto’s most iconic costuming assignments was TV gangster Tony Soprano, and when the late James Gandolfini needed a suit for himself, he knew who to call. “[Gandolfini] was a great guy, too; a really nice guy,” Giliberto says. “He used to come up here and just be so unassuming. I said, ‘You want me to take you up the freighter—that way you don’t have to worry?’ He goes, ‘No, don’t worry about it. I’ll come up the regular entrance. Don’t worry. I’m fine.’ And that was it. He was just a regular guy.” It was Giliberto who Gandolfini called when he needed a suit for the Emmys, and he proudly notes that “when he won, that was my tuxedo.”
A well fitted suit is a funny thing. You might not know it when you see it, but you’ll sure as hell notice when you don’t see it, and Giliberto’s suits epitomize the precision that marks a good one. While the majority of his business these days comes from the entertainment industry, he still maintains a private clientele, and so few have a more encompassing understanding of what makes a well-dressed man. Everyone should have a navy or charcoal suit, he says; he suggests clients opt for fabric with texture to elevate a suit. When it comes to tailoring, there’s no “one size fits all,” as some styles just don’t work on certain frames. Dressing well is simply a matter of dressing for the body you have: A larger guy won’t look right in bold plaids, and someone older won’t look good in the same slim cut suit that fits a 27-year-old. If you’ve got a gut, you have two options: Wear your pants under your stomach with a belt, or wear them over your stomach with suspenders.
A suit wonk myself, we joke about how we like to watch TV so we can spot ill-fitting suits. I list some of my own pet peeves: puckering along the seams, pants without a break, a gap between the shirt collar and the jacket collar. I remarked that President Biden’s suits—which typically fit beautifully—have that gap behind the collar lately, and speculated that it looked like a flak jacket worn under his suit. “No, what’s happening is, as he gets older, he stoops further,” Giliberto corrects me. “And when you stoop further, it starts to pull off your neck. So that has to be corrected in the fitting. You got to shorten that collar.”
For all his success, Giliberto himself is also an unassuming guy—disarming and down to earth, and a family man, no doubt a testament to his Bensonhurst roots. He’s a family man, too: He works alongside his brother Rosario Jr. in the shop, and his father still comes in. It isn’t long into our conversation before we realize he had grown up not far from my mother, a Brooklyn gal herself. When we hang up, I grab her exact childhood address, along with the bakery her grandparents ran, and pass it along.
He replies right away, and says he had probably been to my great grandparents’ bakery as a kid. “Brooklyn people are the best people,” he adds. I couldn’t agree more.