Angelo Flaccavento on Italian style

Intelligent, elegance, understated taste: three reasons why stylish Italian men get it right

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As a style journalist for Italy’s financial newspaper Il Sole 24 Ore, Angelo Flaccavento is at the frontline of international fashion, travelling the world to various fashion weeks and reporting on global trends. But it was his recent experience curating an exhibition of design legend and fabric maker Nino Cerruti’s personal wardrobe archives that really highlighted a history of tasteful dressing in Italy. Here, he shares some pearls of wisdom both men share on getting personal style right. 

Photo Top and Above: Elena Braghieri, Getty Images

On detail

The Instagram phenomenon has had a huge effect on fashion, because we are living in a hyper-visual world. But what counts is how strong an impression you make on people, not the way you dress. What you really appreciate about Mr Cerruti is the way he mixes classes of fabric, like mixing a linen jacket with a wool pant. You cannot see that in a picture. To really appreciate the textures you must get really close to him or the clothes. For me that’s so much more interesting and human.

On fabric

Fabric is totally important, it’s the fundamental thing. Mr Cerruti has always experimented with fabric; he always uses wool but never in an obvious way. What he got in terms of softness of clothes was partly due to the construction of the jacket, the way it was cut, but he could only achieve the effect with a certain kind of fabric, a really airy weave. They can almost look feminine because usually masculine wools are little bit stiff or very dry. Cerruti’s wool has always been very soft, almost sloppy sometimes, and that gave the clothes a totally different allure.

On quality

I think what really defines Italian style for men is the way we like to dress properly. But I have to be honest with you, I’m more fascinated by the old guard. A little bit of that elegance has gone, almost lost in a way. One thing that I think Mr Cerruti and I agree on is that we don’t like throw away things. I don’t want to have another cheap jacket. I would rather wear the good one I bought six years ago that really has quality. So I think that we Italians feel very interested in fashion, are very good at playing with it, but when you see a well-dressed Italian man, he’s a little bit nonchalant. He has a certain swagger and also a certain irony. 

On dress codes

It’s important to know the rules, and to know the rules, for me, is just to know how to match dress and location. Because I cannot understand people that show up in jeans when there is dinner attire on the invite. I recommend playfulness and understatement. Which is really difficult to get, maybe, but it’s also a very engaging point to reach.

On being true

One thing that’s really interesting about social media is that people will use it to show off their style. One thing I learned from Mr Cerruti is something that I, too, have always believed. He told me: “Dressing up has always been about a conversation between me and myself.” That’s the point. Dress up for yourself and then everything else happens. If you dress up for the others, you will be just an attention-seeker, which honestly is not exactly the most stylish of behaviours.

On mistakes

Thinking of yourself as stylish is very un stylish. If you don’t think about it too much maybe you make some mistakes, but mistakes are part of the game. Mistakes make things more lived in. I mean, there are some ways Mr Cerruti mixes things that look honestly like mistakes, but it works in that slightly imperfect kind of way. This is the sum of Mr Cerruti’s style. Perfect imperfection. He never, never looks too put together. It can be that the jacket is a little bit worn out, or that the colours of the jacket, the blue of the trousers is not exactly the same, but that’s so fascinating, so alive, so stylish for me.

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