Starting in 1896, the Neapolitan department store Mele became the largest account for Ricordi, the pioneering Milan lithographer. Ricordi quickly put its very best artists to work for the trailblazing retailer. Using large format images, Mele brought the elegance and excitement of pre-war High Society to an eager and growing Italian bourgeois class. The posters were regularly reviewed in the press, and were even sold in fine art galleries.
Laskoff produced five masterpieces for Mele between 1900 and 1904. His "Paletots per Uomo" is indicative of the remarkable caliber of his work. An elegant Neapolitan gentleman admires himself in the mirror as his trusted butler readies his top hat.
Laskoff was born in Poland and had worked briefly in Paris before coming to Milan. His style was strongly influenced by England's Beggarstaff Brothers, who perhaps more than any others reduced Art Nouveau to graphic essentials. Unlike most of his contemporaries, Laskoff understood the power of eliminating all excess details from his works. Although he only stayed in Italy until 1904, his avant-garde style had a major impact on younger artists working there.