Made in Italy: A celebration of fashion turns the eye on the timeless appeal of Italian chic
As the Calgary Philharmonic Orchestra puts on a fashion show as part of their Festival Italiano series, and fashionable people head to The Core to watch the Holt Renfrew show on Friday, we couldn’t help but think about the Italian influence on fashion now.
The Vittorio Missoni plane disappearance earlier this year definitely caught our attention, and we were drooling over the Emporio Armani Baby display at Holt Renfrew, but why does our fascination with all things Italian start and stop with fashionable?
We turned to stylist Phaedra Godchild to help us understand the appeal of Italian fashion. Godchild, one half of the styling team known as Styleista, is the stylist behind the Italian Gala fashion show and has many years of experience in the fashion industry. The show was curated from Holt Renfew, so of course there were tons of great pieces to choose from.
Italian fashion has always had something inherently accessible about it even while remaining of high quality and high end. “The seemingly glamourous lifestyle of the Italians is appealing to us North Americans, and when you combine that with impeccable tailoring and on-trend pieces, then you have a fashion that’s highly coveted,” says Godchild.
The Italian legacy of guilds and craftmanship has ensured that qualified artists make the goods, while its history of coming on to the scene after the Second World War means that it was ready-to-wear created for the masses rather than just for the extremely wealthy. Godchild says that Italian labels have been influential for so long because they are “timeless and ultimately sought after. As consumers are looking at where things are made, a ‘a made in Italy’ label’ sells itself because Italy is top for craftmanship and quality.”
There’s also a something for everyone in the Italian fashion scene and the trends represented by Italian designers are evergreen. Missoni’s quirky zig-zag print speaks to the bohemian woman and fits seamlessly into the boho trend that’s still present. Pucci’s printed skiwear was perfect for the sportswear fan — and the printed sweatshirt makes a comeback this season. Meanwhile, Gucci hasn’t lost its sleek glamour, and Prada’s use of cutting edge fabrics and leathers will never go out of style. Godchild points out that “Italy has a history of setting the stage for prints” and tradition of prints gets reinterpreted in different ways to make them modern; one only has to look at the mixed prints we’re seeing these days.
We couldn’t help but ask Godchild for a sneak peak of the designers that she was using in the fashion show. Her top four favourites (for men and women) are: Etro, because their clothes are so beautiful to look at; D&G, because they exude Italian sex appeal; Armani, because the clothes are refined and classic; and Brunello Cucinelli because he’s a master at layering luxurious fabrics and textures, especially cashmere and fur which are must-haves this winter season.
Moreover, the Italians seem to be the epitome of style and glamour which means that Italian fashion will retain its aspirational quality — it will always appeal to those who want their clothes to say that they have a taste for la bella vita. Ironically, over the years Italian fashion hasn’t been immune to the effects and indeed benefits of globalization. Gucci made its comeback thanks to American designer Tom Ford at the helm, and Fendi’s creative director has been German Karl Lagerfeld, who also designs for the epic French brand Chanel. Many Italian brands also got their first taste of success when their collections were picked up by American department stores such as Saks Fifth Avenue and Bergdorf Goodman. But it only makes sense that Italian fashion has done so well in North America: Americans love sportswear and Italy betters sportswear by making it unendingly glamourous and since those two qualities will never go out of style, neither will our love of Italian fashion.