Masters Of Style: Celebrating The Stories Behind Italian Fashion

To celebrate a major exhibition Masters of Style: Celebrating the Stories behind Italian Fashion at London's Somerset House one Saboteur recalls his own love affair with Italian fashion
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To celebrate a major exhibition Masters of Style: Celebrating the Stories behind Italian Fashion at London's Somerset House one Saboteur recalls his own love affair with Italian fashion

Early 84, Saturday morning. Hanover Square, London. Bar Remo for a sandwich or a panino if we are being all Venetian. Flogging the overtime, sitting in the square watching the girls go by. Having a mooch. Leather Armani jacket, Armani jumper, Armani jeans.

"Armani, Armani, A-A-Armani."

Leather eagle on the arm, leather eagle on the jeans' pocket. Bit of a chill in the air, wrapped up warm with an Aquascutum scarf pulled across my neck, Timberland shoes keeping out the cold.

A few months earlier: 10 September 83, Saturday morning. San Marco 989, Venezia. Emporio Armani for a polo shirt, a tee shirt, a pair of jeans… Then having a beer sitting in the square watching the girls go by. Having a mooch.

"Armani, Armani, A-A-Armani."

My little gang from North London was hooked. The Lacoste and Fila BJ tennis shirts were being replaced with floral and striped shirts buttoned to the neck under the Giorgio Armani jumper. The iconic jumper. Beautifully designed in colours that were sombre and stylish, a white label stating simply Giorgio Armani and there on the left hand sleeve the leather eagle with the two black letters: GA. We'd moved from Scottish golfing knitwear to Italian designerwear. From sport to fashion with one swing of a six iron.

Getting older moving on. Hugo Boss suits for weddings and christenings.

Day trips to Venice for the shopping not the sightseeing. Daily lunch-hour visits to Woodhouse on Oxford Street. Our shop. It had always been our shop. London's soul boys shop. A spin and pirouette away from Crackers nightclub. Every day - to check the stock. Little boutiques tucked away in distant postcodes. Looking for the label. The label that says Made in Italy.

From Armani to Missoni knits. Ricardo Bini and Benetton. Ball jeans with the red label, Fiorucci jeans with the gold triangle. Gucci loafers and Bally Casuals. Bar Italia on Frith Street for cappuccinos and Villa Carlotta on Charlotte Street for lasagna. Made in Italy us North London Boys…

September 86 Saturday morning. Shaftesbury Avenue and John Anthony's shop. CP Company and Stone Island isola di pietra. Navy Arctic. Compass patches and Gucci watches. Ciao jeans and Paraboot shoes. Timberland boots and Best Company sweats and of course: "Armani, Armani, A-A-Armani."

Getting older moving on. Hugo Boss suits for weddings and christenings. Giorgio rather than Emporio. Then with Chipie, C17 and Chevignon crossing the channel we moved onto Bass Weejuns and Paul Smith. Vintage Levi's and Burberry macs. John Smedley and Thomas Pink. Jermyn Street and Burlington Arcade and back to Covent Garden to Sam Walker and John Simons. But for a while from ‘83 to ‘87 we were Made in Italy us North London Boys. Strictly Made in Italy…

This article originally appeared in Issue 3 of Oi Polloi’s house magazine The Rig Out.

The exhibition Masters of Style: Celebrating the Stories Behind Italian Fashion is at Somerset House, London July 1st - 14th August

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