If you’ve been on the internet for a while mulling over menswear websites and forums, you’ve most likely noticed a considerable amount of axioms and quotes drawing a hard line between the definitions of style and fashion. Or to put it differently, between us stylish good guys and the big bad fashionistas.
At PG, we’ve had enough of this one-sided argument. Sonya even wrote about the subject back in 2013 in an article called “Is Fashion a Dirty Word?”
Here are a few excerpts :
“Like a child put to the grindstone to learn the multiplication table, when it comes to clothing, we are drilled like clockwork with newfangled quotes on how style is superior to fashion. And yet still, industry bloggers and journalists alike continue to put pen to paper in order to once again reference the illusory difference between fashion and style. ”
“And countless search engine hits appear when researching the so called great debate, with style camp devotees expressing a sick-joy pleasure in bashing their fashion counterparts and raising the battle flag of superiority while parading around on white stallions. ”
“Is it so difficult to understand that fashion is about the relationship of the clothes with the moment, and style is about the relationship of the clothes-wearer with his clothes? Is it that hard to perceive that fashion is fleeting and style is permanent? That fashion is dictated to us and style is a personal decision? That fashion is immediate and style is formed after a long and arduous process? And, do any of us deny that the relationship we have with our clothing holds a more intimate meaning than how clothing relates to modern day trends? ”
(full article HERE)
If we are to be perfectly honest however, this “debate” was of great significance to us when we started out Parisian Gentleman, along with a few other colleagues preaching in a sartorial desert. It gave us something to stand for, quite simply. But this time period was a little while ago, when the Pitti Uomo was still a professional-only trade show that spoke exclusively Italian and where only Lino Ieluzzi was faking calls to make for a more lively pause in front of the (very few) cameras.
It was a time when we stayed close to quotes by Yves St Laurent and Mademoiselle Chanel as if they were beacons of hope in a styleless world. A time when the images we used to illustrate those quotes were lifted straight from Lawrence Fellows’ drawings (Apparel Arts). It was a time when the 30s and 40s were idolized as the golden age of men’s style with an even stronger heart and conviction than today, if it’s possible to imagine.
To all of our credit, Apparel Arts illustrations are incredibly stylish, and any photo featuring the holy-style-trinity , i.e., Astaire, Cooper, or Grant, packs a fundamental sartorial punch. We also reflect on having our bits of fun (if to some degree unfair) eagerly pitting the trinity against the most disastrous Boss & Armani & Co pictures from the 1980’s.
A few years ago, Sonya and I had the pleasure of spending an entire afternoon at one of the greatest and most celebrated bespoke tailoring houses in the world : A.Caraceni in Milan – for the purpose of the writing of my second book “The Italian Gentleman” (Thames & Hudson). This visit allowed us to confirm first-hand that all those cheesy quotes on the merits of style are in fact, still relevant.
We asked the Caraceni family—legendary 94 year-old patriarch Mario Caraceni, his son-in-law/renowned tailor Carlo Andreacchio, and his son, up-and-coming tailor/cutter Massimiliano, aka “Max” Andreacchio to dress for a photoshoot to be featured in my book. We specifically asked them to choose clothing that they cherished.
Carlo Andreacchio wore a superb double-breasted light-beige suit. You will immediately notice that this peculiar jacket (pictured below) can be buttoned either as a “six-on-one” or as a “six-on-two” i.e. , either with the last button buttoned (and an unused buttonhole in the lapel roll) or with the middle button buttoned.
This “shifting-button” option is popular these days – many Neapolitan tailors and a few creative houses like Sciamat love to play with such details and break a few classic codes to allow for more sartorial freedom (a six-on-one is considered less formal than a six-on-two).
As I warmly congratulated Carlo for his suit choice and commented on how the active buttonhole placed on the lapel roll is quite the modern detail, he drew my attention to the label – discreetly tucked inside his inner pocket. The date read…1982.
The beautiful suit in the photo above is 37 years old.
As I stood humbled, I flashed back to the idiom that fashion does indeed come and go, but style is forever. Perhaps nowhere else does this message ring truer than at the house of a great tailor.
Recently we came across another confirmation. See the great Igor Stravinsky below wearing the same kind of suit as photographed by Irving Penn in…1948 !
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Pictures (all but the last one) © Lyle Roblin for Parisian Gentleman.
A. Caraceni : Via Fatebenefratelli 16, Milano. MI.
Phone : +39 (0)2 655 1972
Website : A.Caraceni