June, thanks to the influence of Pitti Immagine Uomo, the international men’s
fashion trade fair that takes over Florence for one week twice a year, Florence
dresses in fancy colours, daring outfits and extravagant accessories. And we’re
not talking about the women.
First, a little
history. Italian men’s style has always been quite different from its more
serious, ‘Savile row’ British counterpart. Since the 1940s, in fact, Italians’
strong fashion image began attracting the eyes of foreign women and such
fashion industry professionals as the label Brioni, whose amazing first
collection of Italian menswear was inspired by street looks in Rome. Brioni,
founded in 1945 by tailor Nazareno Fonticoli and businessman Gaetano Savini,
shocked audiences and the press with its bright colours, unusual fabrics and
body-conscious, impeccably tailored fits.
They made their debut
in Florence at shows organized by Giovanbattista Giorgini at Palazzo Pitti in
1951, when they dressed male models to escort women dressed in the Fontana
sisters’ evening dresses. One year later, they held their first show.
Brioni represents the
essence of Italian men’s style, which, like women’s clothing, is a complex
combination of high-quality materials and excellent tailoring techniques.
Brioni’s marketing strategy has always been as bold as its clothes: Brioni
already had shows in the United States in the 1950s, and in 1971 it presented
its new collection on a plane flying from Manila to Tokyo.
The killer combination
of quality, great design and innovative marketing worked. The look that Brioni
developed over the decades earned worldwide respect and became a classic of
Italian style, dressing major clients as disparate as Kofi Annan and Donald
Trump. It was also appreciated by the British: both Pierce Brosnan and Daniel
Craig demonstrated the perfect fit of a Brioni suit when playing James Bond.
Brioni wasn’t the only
one. In the 1970s, Giorgio Armani provided another perfect example of
attractive men’s style: a glance at Richard Gere in American Gigolo should suffice as
So, to the present.
For my male readers (and, of course, for my female readers who have brothers,
husbands, boyfriends, sons or fathers) I offer some suggestions for men of all
ages for achieving that great Italian style this summer.
Those of you in your
twenties: start with a fitted, printed, punky T-shirt and pair it with fitted
distressed jeans or army Bermuda shorts. Complete the look with fancy sneakers.
For men in their thirties,
I suggest a designer T-shirt, possibly with a green twist, with a blue or black
blazer jacket, and wide distressed denim. For shoes, sneakers or leather
sandals. Top it off with a big, colourful cotton scarf and your favorite
Men in their forties
should trade in the T-shirt for a white, cotton-linen blend shirt. Add the
jacket if it is not too hot, pairing it with bright green or purple fitted
pants (or a bright shirt and blue pants). To be even more daring, try tailored
Bermuda shorts. Finish off the look with leather loafers or Tod’s sneakers for
the Italian touch.
Men over fifty can use
the same look as men in their forties, but replace the jacket with a pink or
light blue cotton sweater worn on shoulders, and choose soft beige or purple suede
Treat yourself to some
hot summer looks: it’s almost sale season!