Milan Fashion Week
Logos out – Advertise yourself is the secret of the stylish italian look.
Looking good in Italy is a national obsession. Walking down the streets you can enjoy the perfect, sensual, expressive, street style of italians. Milan fashion week’s could give you the ideas for new trends or to feel your individuality looking how famous or normal young or grow up peole look like. In a country where police uniforms are designed by Armani, it isn’t surprising that the women take dressing very seriously.
This nation’s favourite pastime is style. Italians grow up in a culture of ‘bella figura’. This translates literally as ‘beautiful figure’ but is more specifically understood as ‘a good image’. This is not only related to what you wear but involves how you ‘appear’: etiquette, reputation, style are all equally important. The way you present yourself to the world matters hugely. In a country where, even the police uniforms are designed by Valentino and footballers are kitted out by Mr Armani, Italians consider it essential to look good pretty much from birth.
This is not a new phenomenon and is in no way related to individual finances. Indeed, a little bit of style in Italy can take you a very long way. For Italians style is cultural democracy; in the words of Italy’s most famous journalist, Luigi Barzini, ‘where poverty can be worn with dignity… it is not noticeable or embarrassing’. In times of national and international disaster, Italians can be relied on to put their best fashion foot forward. When the first tourists arrived in Italy after WWII, they were stunned at the importance placed on fashion by the young men and women lounging in the bars and cafés of Rome. One observer commented, ‘Some of them would go without eating to devote the few pennies they had to buying suits, shirts and dresses which would enable them to cut a dignified figure at the passeggiata.
Italians seem to be quite happy to sacrifice comfort for style and elegance. And they insist on attention to detail. Never have I seen an Italian with a missing button on their suit, a hem falling down or sporting an unpressed outfit. I have also never seen an Italian woman in a pair of trainers. These impressive signorinas tackle the most gnarly of cobblestones in high heels with the grace of a gazelle and the determination of an Olympic athlete. Perhaps this is only to be expected. Italy is, of course, the shoe capital of the world.
Style and function are inseparable in Italy and this is reflected in attitudes to dress. Italians favour well-tailored cuts in neutral colours like black, white, beige and navy. Natural fabrics reign supreme and showing too much flesh is considered déclassé. As Sophia Loren said, ‘A woman’s dress should be like a barbed-wire fence: serving its purpose without obstructing the view. For a slice of la dolce vita, add a couple of dresses to your core wardrobe. You should treat yourself to a shirtdress, a shift dress and an archetypal little black dress. The first two will cover all bases whether at work or play. Both can be dressed up or down; try a beautifully-stamped Italian leather belt to cinch in the waist of your shirt dress or a little cashmere cardigan to drape over the shoulders of your shift. You can go anywhere in an LBD: from drinks at Harry’s Bar in Rome, dinner at Cipriani in Venice to a delicious ice cream at Cova in Milan.
A well-cut suit is a worthwhile investment. If you choose wisely, you will be able to wear the jacket and trousers as separates, which makes a careful wardrobe choice go a long way. Any trouser style will do: cigarette pants for those long of leg, highwaisted for the fashionistas among you or tapered if you prefer a more classic silhouette.
The key is in the cut. Make sure the suit fits you like a dream and if it doesn’t take it to a tailor – a true Italian will not suffer an ill-fitting outfit.
Accessories are where you make your personal mark. A jewel-coloured scarf, an iridescent silk blouse, a neon pump, some understated yet fabulous jewellery; Italians prefer to personalise with details.
Logos are out. The only thing worth advertising is yourself. Italian designers have been hailed the world over since the heady, stylised days of Elsa Schiaparelli. Referred to by Coco Chanel as ‘the Italian artist who makes clothes’, Schiaparelli loved to juxtapose colours, textures and silhouettes and is often acknowledged as the designer’s designer. More recently the houses of Prada, Gucci, Fendi, Missoni, Versace, Valentino, Armani and Cavalli have dominated the fashion headlines. Whether it is the subdued chic of Armani or the extravagant glamour of Cavalli, Italian designers retain their pole position at the top of the fashion world’s radar.
With the upcoming designs of ex-Fendi designer Sergio Zambon taking the Milanese catwalk by storm, the Italians seem set to remain contentedly at the top of the fashion tree. What I love about Italian style is, quite simply, the Italians.
Being Italian, above all is about Italian Chic that means elegance, femininity, a little intrigue and mystery . . . it’s about your silhouette, slimming lines and details . . . it’s where fashion and style have no limits and beauty has no bounds, coming together to create a seamless look. That is Italian style.
But looking stylish like the Italians is not just about special occasions, how much money you spend, or the latest trends, it’s about finding the easiest way for you to look good and feel great throughout the day. Whether you’re walking the dog or walking the red carpet, it’s important to be yourself, to be comfortable and confident, to enhance what you have to bring out your best.