The Renaissance Man in a Contemporary World

MiMi Yeh

“Image is all about seduction. Everything goes back to seduction and if you work on seducing the people around you, they will see whatever you want them to see,” says Casey Giovinco, a fellow UMass Boston student, philosophy major, and personal assistant to Samantha von Sperling of Polished Social Image Consultants.

But that doesn’t mean sleeping around. Giovinco is only espousing the philosophy neatly summed up by Machiavelli, Castiglione, and Sun-Tzu. It consists of diplomacy, tact, and being able to perform the social equivalent of dancing on a tightrope.

“The bare necessity of seduction is interpersonal relationships. It’s knowing yourself well enough that makes you able to know someone else. If you can seduce yourself you can seduce anyone. No one can see through your own bullshit better than you.”

So what can an image consultant do to fix up a client? Essentially, anything. They not only give advice on etiquette, but also take the time to carefully evaluate each and every client. How do you help someone who’s deaf to the dictum “know thyself”? Giovinco replies, “An image consultant is the person who takes the place of that analysis and goes through all motivations to figure out what you want…[and] gives you a personal style like nobody else.”

It’s an exercise in light and dark, of melding and neatly meshing opposites. An image consultant should be the contemporary version of a Renaissance man, one capable of standing out even though appearing to blend in with the scenery. A chameleon with the same colors but different patterns, sort of like James Bond.

More often than not, some people just want to know which fork to use at dinner. “People come in and say ‘I have to go to a wedding, what’s proper etiquette,’ or ‘How do I dance, what do I wear?'” However, some goals are downright decadent. For instance, Giovinco told me the success story of one client who wanted to romance a particular woman and ultimately ended up taking her to Paris for Valentine’s Day weekend.

“I looked up hotel prices, club venues, reasonably priced dinners, where she could find a bathing suit. I made sure all the grunt work was done for him.” An image consultant is capable of offering a variety of options that the client may not have thought of. “Usually they have [a] goal in mind, very short term, and just want to know how to accomplish it.”

Yet, there are members of the population who would call this deceptive, selling yourself as something you’re not. Giovinco works to emphasize a client’s strength rather than trying to fit a square peg into a round hole. “You should have an image tweaked and fine tuned in such a way that they [the public] see something positive in you, something that they can identify with in you.”

Giovinco even has clients here on campus, such as Student Senate member Todd Babbitt. “I’m Todd’s personal trainer. I make sure someone feels comfortable in their body…He’s comfortable in his mind, he just needs to get comfortable in his body.” And, like most people, he was bored by the sometimes tedious repetition of going to the gym. “Instead of doing 10,000 things that are the same, I introduce him to different things. It’s all about making sure the client’s needs are filled.

“It’s my job not to be wrapped up in myself, but in you.”