Philly resident launches Italian fashion mag
by Daniel Poellntz
Jun 12, 2014 | 1059 views | 0 0 comments | 15 15 recommendations | email to a friend | print
<b>Francesco Di Maio</b>
Francesco Di Maio
Philadelphia resident Francesco Di Maio has introduced a new Italian-style magazine to the World Wide Web — and it is the first and only of its kind.

“Uomo Moderno” offers fashion, lifestyle, cuisine, culture, sports and fitness. All of these ingredients make for a wholesome, clean page-clicker. But where does all this inspiration come from?

Francesco and his family are from an island in the Bay of Naples called Ischia. Often referred to as the “Emerald Island,” Ischia is situated near the island of Capri. After being DNA-tested, Francesco learned his family dates back thousands of years to the Arabs of Yemen and the Phoenicians (current-day Lebanon).

His family was not wealthy but was privileged enough to travel throughout “the Italic boot,” whose history, art, fashion, design, cuisine and regional dialects fascinated him from a very young age. This inspired Francesco to take up painting, pottery and music. But swimming soon took precedence over his time for the arts.

He wanted to attend the University of Rome, but his father persuaded him to pursue an education in a university known for foreign languages, such as Columbia or Georgetown. Eventually he was accepted to the University of Pennsylvania, where he majored in Russian and Chinese languages and area studies and earned a master’s in educational linguistics.

There, for the first time, he was challenged to come to grips with his sexual orientation, which he initially rejected by turning to conservative religion. After graduation, his religious convictions inspired him to embark on a long journey of international development, education and publishing — all of which he described in great detail in his autobiography “Trapped No More” (under pen name Kekko Manna).

This venture allowed him to tell his story, and to help him deal with self-discovery.

After about 20 years, however, he said he could no longer deny his identity. He remembered from his college days that Philadelphia had a vibrant gay community, so he boarded a plane and returned to the City of Brotherly Love.

After reading an ad in the PGN about counseling, he phoned the William Way LGBT Community Center and began meeting with a counselor. In one session, he learned about the Philadelphia Fins swim team, which provided him with the emotional support he needed and desired.

Francesco said that throughout his coming-out process, his childhood passions were reignited, particularly in fashion and design. After several years of trial and error, he began doing what became natural to him — writing. He started with a blog, then an e-magazine and then began to bring “Uomo Moderno” to fruition last year, which the Italian government deemed the “Year of Italian Culture in the United States.”

Over the years, Francesco said, he had been deeply saddened by Italy’s economic collapse, which prevented him from establishing a lasting career in the country. Additionally, he was discouraged by the misconceptions and stereotypes of Italy by Americans (especially Italian-Americans). Finally, the prevalent lack of style among men in the United States — “only God can forgive them!” he joked — stirred him to decisive action.

“Every dream comes with hard work and struggle, especially building a reputation and recognition of a brand,” he said. “The biggest challenge in getting the magazine off the ground is becoming known.”

To that end, Uomo has spearheaded a series of events, such as New York Fashion Week’s Italian Collections.

“Uomo Moderno,” which means “modern man” in Italian, is the first and only all-Italian men’s fashion and lifestyle magazine, according to its founder. Francesco said the magazine is designed to teach the true essence of living in style, using contemporary Italy as an example — hence the tagline “Living in Italian Style.”

The “Uomo Moderno” staff consists of Francesco as publisher, working in Philadelphia, as well as Daphne Perticarini in Recanti and Federica Fatale in Rome.

The publisher said the magazine is meant to appeal to several audiences, but largely to a new class of professional men who wish to look beyond the confines of their own culture and explore different concepts of luxurious living. Francesco said he sees the magazine gradually becoming the “go-to” publication for men and women interested in Italian fashion and lifestyle.

Many of the readers are attracted to Italy, while others appreciate the magazine for its emphasis on fashion and style. While the LGBT community constitutes a large portion of the magazine’s readership, it also attracts straight men and women, he said.

“I don’t like to generalize, because gay men are just as diverse and variegated as non-gay men,” Francesco said. “Nevertheless, ‘Uomo Moderno’ appeals to the gay man interested in fashion, design, fine living, travel and — naturally — Italy.”

“What sets Italian fashion apart is not whether you are handsome or beautiful, but rather elegant,” Francesco added.

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