Sibylle’s Style Diary: Michael Cerbelli on Being on Top of the Game in the NY Event Industry

By Sibylle Eschapasse
Sibylle Eschapasse
Sibylle Eschapasse
November 17, 2016 Updated: November 18, 2016

This week’s style Diary is Michael Cerbelli, the CEO and president of Cerbelli Creative. For nearly four decades, Michael worked in the event industry and is one of the most sought after event designer and executers. The events he has created include the weddings of Billy Joel, Robert De Niro, and Sir Paul McCartney. He was also responsible for the King of Morocco’s birthday party and New Year’s Eve celebrations in St. Petersburg, Russia, and had even the opportunity to produce the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland.

Michael is also known as the creator of “The Hot List™”, in which he takes the hottest, newest, and most inspiring event and entertainment products and showcases them for the industry. He gets very involved in the business and finds it important to support the International Special Events Society (ISES), the Meeting Planners International (MPI), The SEARCH Foundation, and Event Professionals Take Action (EPTA.) He is sharing with us his perspective on style in this week Style Diary. 

Sibylle Eschapasse: Describe your style?

Michael Cerbelli: Traditionally masculine, with a touch of old Hollywood. I have been described as a mix of Clark Gable, Cary Grant, with the 1960s rat pack style topped with a bit of George Clooney.

(Courtesy of Michael Cerbelli)
(Courtesy of Michael Cerbelli)

Ms. Eschapasse: If a close friend were to describe your personality in three words, what would they be?

Mr: Cerbelli: Funny, passionate, and creative.

Carry yourselves properly, know where you are, and respect your surroundings.
— Michael Cerbelli

Ms. Eschapasse: How has your style evolved since you were a teenager?

Mr. Cerbelli: My mom always made sure we were dressed “properly.” Even through it was all about a Brady Bunch inspired look of wide collars and flared pants, we always looked good—for the time, anyway!

Then in 1977, John Travolta taught me that it was okay to show my chest. It was all about the clothes and the look, and today my style has become part of my personality.

Ms. Eschapasse: What is the wildest thing you have ever worn?

Mr. Cerbelli: Underwear, a hat, and boots! I was the naked cowboy for a fundraiser! 

Ms. Eschapasse: How do you dress on workdays versus weekends?

Mr. Cerbelli: If you know me you know there is very little difference. Might lose the suit. I love wearing blazers and shoes, with nice jeans, and a great shirt—minus the cufflinks for the weekend—and there is my weekend outfit! I believe you should look great at brunch… pass me my sunglasses, please! 

(Courtesy of Michael Cerbelli)
(Courtesy of Michael Cerbelli)

Ms. Eschapasse: What are three accessories you can’t live without?

Mr. Cerbelli: My pocket square, my lapel flowers, and my watches.

Ms. Eschapasse: What’s one item that makes you instantly more confident?

Mr. Cerbelli: Cufflinks!

Ms. Eschapasse: Who have been your greatest fashion influences?

Mr. Cerbelli: My style has evolved to where it is today because of my dad. I clearly remember at six years old going to “the male shop” in Brooklyn and watching him pick out his suits with matching shirts and ties and I loved learning how the different patterns worked together.

Ms. Eschapasse: Who is your style icon?

Mr. Cerbelli: Giorgio Armani is so classic and elegant. I think he sums up what a man should look like and feel like in a suit.

Ms. Eschapasse: What does having style mean to you? In other words, please define style.

Mr. Cerbelli: Style is a feeling—as the song says, “it’ s a new day, a new dawn, a new life…and I’m feeling good.” It’s the confidence of knowing who you are. I know when I walk into a room and people comment, then I’ve set a tone. 

Ms. Eschapasse: What is one purchase you’re most proud of? 

Mr. Cerbelli: My Breitling watch, and I love it.

Ms. Eschapasse: What would you pay a lot of money for, and what would you never pay much money for?

Mr. Cerbelli: Once a handkerchief hits $100 or more, then I’m out!

Ms. Eschapasse: When you go on the red carpet, how do you want your outfit to make you feel? 

Mr. Cerbelli: I want to feel as big as the moment. When they are reporting on the event I want them to say, “there’s not much you can do with a black tuxedo, but boy did he wear it well.”

(Courtesy of Michael Cerbelli)
(Courtesy of Michael Cerbelli)

Ms. Eschapasse: Which designers can achieve that?

Mr. Cerbelli: Armani, Zegna, Ferragamo, and Gucci.

Ms. Eschapasse: What do you think of how others dress and what’s your advice to people who would like to develop their personal style?

Mr. Cerbelli: Carry yourselves properly, know where you are, and respect your surroundings. 

Don’t wear flip-flops to the theater or on an airplane. T-shirts and shorts are not an everyday style. Don’t wear suits and button downs all the time, have some to mix with jeans and slacks.

Remember the grooming! Make sure nails are clean and manicured and any scruff is even and groomed. Clean the ears and nose! Sit up straight, stand tall, and comb your hair.

(Courtesy of Michael Cerbelli)
(Courtesy of Michael Cerbelli)

Michael’s Favorites

Favorite Color: I know it’s not a color, but I love black and dark grey, which match my hair!
Favorite Scent: Lolita Lempicka Masculine – Trust Me.
Favorite Restaurant In NY: Sammy’s Romanian Steakhouse, 157 Chrystie St, New York, NY 10002
Favorite Drink: Chilled Grey Goose with lemon.
Favorite Movie: “The Godfather”—“Leave the gun, take the cannolis.”
Favorite Book: “Duey’s Tale” by Pearl Bailey. This book led me on my journey into events and entertainment.
Favorite Quote: “Hello, my name is Inigo Montoya. You killed my father. Prepare to die,” from “Princess Bride.”

Sibylle’s “Style Diary” is a column that explores style from the perspective of choices, and what that means for different people, with personal advice from some of the most stylish people in New York.

Sibylle Eschapasse is from Paris and now lives in Manhattan. She is a journalist and a contributing writer to various publications. Sibylle is also the author of a children’s book, “Argy Boy a New York Dog Tale.” She may be reached at