Cristiano Corneliani, Global Sales Director, Corneliani
For a long time fashion and trends were associated with womenswear. But menswear has also undergone a series of transformations over the years. The contemporary man is cosmopolitan, aware, conscious of the changing canons of beauty; his style is inevitably influenced by constant cultural exchanges.
Having been tainted for years by opulence and ostentation, menswear is now witnessing a real return to the roots of elegance, which for Italian tailoring is synonymous with harmony, attention to detail and the finest quality. We are seeing a genuine return to the classic, but this time it has been reworked and adapted to reflect the canons of modern style.
Contemporary men are conscious of aesthetics but they also demand comfort. The keyword here is "Contamination" or "Fusion": men's fashion is becoming more and more a hybrid, a natural blend of tailored clothing and leisurewear.
All this reflects an extraordinary emphasis on individuality: being unique is, in fact, the central tenet of contemporary style. Modern men give free rein to their creativity, and it is now acceptable for them to wear a tailored blue blazer with jeans for business too. Accessories are becoming increasingly important, with colour and patterns helping to make them stand out.
A Savile Row tailoring shop. (Photo: Christopher Simon Sykes)
Contemporary style for men is, therefore, a series of rules on the art of dressing well and a constant striving for perfection, although the art lies in giving the impression that one is not trying at all. It is a subtle taste for insouciance, a natural leaning towards elegance shaped by touches of nonchalance and deliberate imperfections. It tends to create an alluring aesthetic image without revealing the multitude of actions which go into making it. Far from strict, defeatist understatement, it is all about moderation - that is, harmony and grace. What emerges is an independent personality, rooted firmly in the rules of elegant style to enable the decisive step along the changing path towards freedom.
The savvy contemporary man turns elegance into an authentic philosophy for life. He loves everything about traditional Italian tailoring, and the values like harmony, attention to detail and real quality which have made Italian fashion the undisputed protagonist around the world.
In our collections, the fusion of tailored clothing and leisurewear is mirrored on one hand in the increasing popularity of made-to-measure, and on the other in the constant search for luxury casual garments which still echo the canons of sartorial elegance and are made with the same attention to detail and inherent quality.
By choosing made-to-measure - an evolution of ready-to-wear - modern men express themselves to the highest degree, creating something exceptional which underlines their personality and uniqueness. Here, the traditional rules for gentlemen are still the most modern. In our terribly uncertain world, it is the concept of elegance which remains unchanged, that is, the ability to be at one with a setting rather than a white elephant. The main emphasis is on fine fabrics which combine nanotechnology with lightness to guarantee the best possible performance over time. Patterns, piping and unusual details are an easy choice when it comes to expressing one's individual style.
Cuts are still slimmer, although comfort is guaranteed; single and double-breasted jackets have ever-softer structures. When it comes to trousers, there is one overlying rule: they should never be too long and barely touch one's shoes. The main thing is the cut: it must be impeccable and flatter the figure. This is one of the foundation stones of Italian tailoring; behind every cut and every choice there is a reason, an emotion, a specific purpose.
Even informal garments - including sportswear collections too - now require the same standards of quality and, in many cases, fine, sartorial fabrics. Painstaking attention goes into selecting the materials. This Autumn/Winter, for example, our leisurewear collections include surprisingly noble fabrics. There are 3D effect knotted wools and fine wools with leather details. The aim is to boost the number of solutions which reflect the identity of the new man, as multifaceted and sophisticated as the world around him.
In keeping with the trend of mixing different styles, for Autumn/Winter 15 we will be launching limited editions and new twists on the iconic Identity Jacket, which is celebrating its 10th anniversary. The historic jacket and chest piece - the epitome of the finest Italian tailoring combined with the modern man's need for practicality and function - is an example of elegance which blurs the boundaries between tailored clothing and sportswear with sophisticated, versatile style.
BRITISH TAILORING OR ITALIAN STYLE?
Who makes the better suits? The traditional English tailoring houses from Savile Row like Gieves & Hawkes, Hardy Amies and Huntsman & Son? Or the great Italian fashion houses like Brioni, Canali, Armani, Zegna or even Gucci? You could start a war by getting supporters of the two sides arguing over the relative superiority of British tailoring vs Italian style or vice versa. The truth is that both countries are known for superlative tailoring and great suits, and the choice finally boils down to individual preference. Also, over time, the differences between the two traditions of suiting have come down sharply as both sides have adopted innovations and best practices of their rivals.
In general, Italian suits are cut and worn far more closely to the body than traditional British suits, which were well-fitting but had relatively more comfortable fittings. Also, most Italian fashion houses believed in signature styles while the British tailors were more inclined to bespoke suiting where the customer decided on everything. In the old days, Italian suits looked much better on slim people while bulky middle-aged gentlemen found many of their body fl aws were hidden by tailoring from Savile Row. Supporters of Italian cuts and fashion houses say they have more flair and style while Savile Row supporters say no one tailors suits fitting the body better than the craftsman from this 300-meter street.
Of late, the Italian fashion houses have seen their clientele grow, while that of Savile Row shrinks. One reason for that is it costs the earth to get a bespoke suit done at Savile Row, and it could take a lot of time as well. A typical Savile Row bespoke suit could set you back by 3,000 pound and take over 50 hours and numerous fittings before you get it in your hand, though a made-tomeasure suit - produced to your size from an adjusted block pattern - could be much cheaper. Italian suits can be as expensive but they are perceived to be more in tune with current trends and fashion unlike many traditional British tailors who strongly recommend traditional styles.
Guess which is the rarest and most expensive fabric in the world? It's the super costly Vicuna, which comes from a llama-like animal from Peru with orange fur and white patches. A coat made from Vicuna can cost upward of $20,000; a scarf will cost around $4,000. It looks like very fine wool, but feels like a luxurious blend of silk and other fine hairs. Talk of trendy threads.
Luxe fabrics are often blends of several wools, including Cashmere and Pashmina. One of the most expensive blends - and a technologically advanced fabric - is the quixotically named Guanashina, produced by French cloth maker Dormeuil. The name is a combination of the rare wools used in the blend: Guanaco (Guan), baby Cashmere (ash) and kid Pashmina (ina), with a bit of Super 200 wool thrown in. Suits in Guanashina start at $15,000 or more. Powerful suits, indeed!