The Art of Predicting Fashion's Future

The Art of Predicting Fashion’s Future. Cesare Badoglio, who claims to be between the ages of 80 and 99, was formerly the spirit whisperer for some of Italy’s most talented designers.

Mr. Badoglio, a tarot reader, astrologer, and fortune teller, tossed cards for Franco Moschino, Gianni, and Donatella Versace, and others during his popular weekend events in Milan at the Hotel Verdi.

Mr. Badoglio claims he anticipated — and even sparked — the whirlwind success of Enrico Coveri, the color-loving Italian designer, whose whirlwind success he claims he prophesied — and even kindled — thanks to a vision of sequins that became the Coveri signature. The designer believed in Mr. Badoglio’s abilities so much that he sought (and failed) to persuade the card reader to join his company. Sadly, he died in 1990 at the age of 38.

Mr. Badoglio recently said, his eyes streaming, “You can’t forecast everything.”

Despite the fact that the Italian fashion world has gotten a little less superstitious since then, certain style insiders continue to seek Mr. Badoglio’s predictions.

Tania Piccioli, who works in handbag manufacture and is a devotee, said, “To feel that there’s something wonderful on the horizon reassures me and calms me down.”

Mr. Badoglio frequently advises his fashion industry customers to pay a visit to the Vienna cemetery where Princess Sissi, Austria’s gorgeous 19th-century empress, is buried. There, they can evoke the princess’s compassion, who, he claims, has made a habit of assisting modern designers in the afterlife. Mr. Badoglio shrugged, saying, “I’ve been talking to dead people since I was a child.”

Mr. Badoglio keeps his white hair cropped to the chin (“Long hair is lucky when the weather is hot”) and dresses in striped shirts with zigzag sweaters or checkered jackets to match his Florence studio’s decorative frenzy. The apartment is decorated with floral wallpapers, dust-encrusted devotionals of saints, and a Warhol-style image of himself, according to him, and was given to him by a client from one of the local noble families.

There are always cards in his pocket: a now tattered deck with heraldic iconography inspired by Renaissance lords, seraphic cherubs, and other artwork borrowed from hand-painted Italian playing cards from the 15th century, as are all tarot decks.

Mr. Badoglio’s tarot studios in Florence and nearby Prato are plastered with photos of him alongside celebrities like Sophia Loren, Paris Hilton, Cher, Lenny Kravitz, Sting, Liza Minnelli, Prince Albert, and the Dalai Lama who have sought counsel from his cards (who laughed his way through the reading, Mr. Badoglio said).

Mr. Badoglio, who authored horoscopes for the Italian newspaper La Nazione and the gossip magazine Chi, also supported Federico Fellini, for whom he prayed to graveyard spirits to bless the set of “Satyricon.”

Mr. Badoglio claimed he uncovered a curse on Franco Zeffirelli while staying in the bedroom of the movie’s actors when the director reached a creative bottleneck while filming “The Taming of the Shrew” starring Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton. Mr. Badoglio then spent three months pleading with his graveyard spirits to lift the curse, allowing Mr. Zeffirelli to resume filming.

Mr. Badoglio threw tarot cards across the desk at a recent reading in his Florence office and remarked, “Luck is the most important thing in this life.”

“Luck, luck again, work, work travel, good news, well-being, longevity,” he continued, gesturing with the florid movements of a conjurer conducting a magic trick to each medieval artwork on his torn cards.

Even those who come to Mr. Badoglio for reading may be sceptical because his cards seem to always predict the good fortune. According to his version of events, a two-hour reading in Florence with the card of fortune on the table failed to persuade Patrizia Reggiani, Maurizio Gucci’s ex-wife, who was desperate to keep the fashion scion’s fortune as he planned to remarry, that she should follow his advice and have faith in her ability to keep her fortune.

Ms. Reggiani did, however, have another fortune teller in her life: her good friend, Pina Auriemma, who subsequently admitted to organizing Mr. Gucci’s murder and ended up in prison with Ms. Reggiani, as depicted in the upcoming film “House of Gucci.” It’s based on Sara Gay Forden’s book, which claims that Ms. Reggiani sought the help of fortune tellers to assist her, cast hexes on Mr. Gucci, and sway events in her favour.

“What makes you think Patrizia believes some things and not others?” Mr. Badoglio stated his position. “I have faith in my cards.”


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