Elegance is in the Italian blood, and most Italians would unhesitatingly give up comfort in order to achieve it. Italy is a nation that cherishes outward appearances. Yes, it is great if you have a good heart, but Italians would expect you to have well-groomed hair, an impeccable sense of dressing and a really neat pair of shoes besides. So it is no wonder that some of the world's best sartorial artists are from Italy.
Starting from one of the pioneers of modern fashion, Elsa Schiaparelli, to the modern czar of extravagant opulence, Roberto Cavalli, Italian fashion has had it all. Italian men and women have had some of the best fashion visionaries watching over what they wear: be it clothes, perfume, shoes, jewelry or hair-do, for almost all of the last century.
The privileged Italians have had names like Brioni and Zegna look after their work wear, and the house of Valentino to call upon when they needed clothes for that real special occasion. Armani has been at hand, letting Italians know that they can be subdued yet elegant, as has the house of Versace which has given a new meaning to glamor. Diesel is a world conqueror in a category all its own, and the likes of Prada, Missoni, Ferragamo, Ferre, Bottega Veneta, Damiani and Bvlgari are discussed in hushed tones of awe in fashion circles across the world.
And for the everyday lives of stylish Italians, there has been the eponymous Zara, and countless other names strewn across Italian cities that continue to take pride in making men and women beautiful. Hollywood has paid homage to Italians and their sense of dressing: for the past few decades most of the glitterati on the red carpets are clad and bedecked in clothes and jewelry made in Italy.
Fashion is almost a national passion, and to see the latest trends one need only glance around the various piazzas, restaurants and streets. Interestingly, these are trends worn to show off the best of the wearer, and imperceptibly conceal any flaws: individual Italians for the most part follow trends that suit them. Besides, few fashion conscious Italians would go for something trendy that is not also durable, classic and genuine.
A svelte Italian woman striding down the cobbled streets in the latest ultra-high wedges without missing a step, hair flying in the breeze, epitomizes an attitude almost all Italians have: of dressing with care and confidence, but seeming artless. And this attitude can only be achieved through a tradition of seduction and refinement handed down through generations. Italians love to show off, but mostly in an individualistic, understated way: while their clothes fit, they still allow room for sensual movement.
For Italians, it is not about clothes at all. Italian fashion is actually all about an attitude: an attitude of custom-made, fluid, sophistication.