In 1875, brothers Emiddio and Alfredo Mele opened a small clothing store in Naples. With hard work and a policy of selling practical clothes at reasonable prices, their enterprise prospered, and in 1889 they opened a huge blockwide emporium patterned after American department stores. In their quest to make the average Neapolitan citizen fashion-conscious, they launched an all-out publicity campaign that was centered on the most effective medium of communication at the time—the poster. They secured the services of the finest Italian printing and lithography shop, Ricordi of Milan, which attracted their attention after scoring spectacularly well at the first International Poster Biennale in Venice in 1895. Starting the following year, Ricordi printed virtually all Mele posters for the next two decades. The elegant people who inhabit all Mele posters, with their seductive looks, well-matched, delicately colored outfits and overall poise normally associated with the upper class, became the role models of a new bourgeois awareness. Placed carefully in suitable ambiances—the salon, the terrazzo, the exquisitely maintained garden, the yacht or country club—these figures convinced the ordinary Italian housewife that she, too, can enjoy the good life, starting at the very least with the latest fashions from Mele. Unfortunately, Italy was among the most negligent countries when it comes to preserving poster art, and the Mele oeuvre, so important in channeling Italian popular tastes toward appreciation of fashions, is today unbelievably rare.