There are many who follow fashion and there are many who follow style. It is epitomised in an opinion widely attributed to Coco Chanel in the mid-sixties “Fashion passes, style remains”. Some even say that fashion is temporary and expensive, whilst style is timeless and affordable. Yet there is another take on this, that of the Italians. Italians are different, their DNA ingrained with a deep cultural history. It is that of ‘La Bella Figura’. But what does this mean?
Translated simply it is ‘the beautiful figure’ and covers an array of things. Most obviously it is how a person portrays themselves, and how they present and impress their character to the world around them. The French woman has a classical tailored effortless, in the US epitomised in head-to-toe black. The English lady might have a unique eye for a calm, understated vintage or classic style. But the Italian woman has a wonderful fearlessness for vibrant colour, sex appeal, figure enhancing, vivacity, in-your-face display.
The history of Italian culture exhibited through art and architecture has been on a grand scale, from the Roman Empire through to Renaissance and into the Modernist creations of 1930s Fascism. However, the reverence of beauty to Italians might also be the simple perfectly cut suit or outfit. Italians have been creating beauty for centuries, it is as much part of the people as of their society and culture.
‘La Bella Figura’ in Italy is more than just simple presentation, vacuous image or the beauty to the eye of an individual. It includes how a person comports themselves, from the simplest attention to detail to their relationship to those situations and people around them. Grace and good manners might not immediately spring to mind for the ‘fiery’ Italians but is vital.
In summary, the Italian approach to fashion is more style than fashion, concurring with Chanel’s view but less under-stated, it includes a flamboyance and flair. Italians are associated with the Classics and it is this and how they incorporate it into their approach to style and character.
How will you approach your chosen style for a night at The Raspberry Cannoli Cabaret using a 1960s, ‘mobster’ reference?
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