A Leg Up On Fashion
Cindy Allen -- Interior Design, 4/1/2005 12:00:00 AM
It's been said that Italians would rather starve than wear a shabby piece of clothing. But before you dismiss them as a nation unhealthily vested in personal vanity, an entire population directly descended from Narcissus, let me explain why I know better—having spent protracted periods of time traveling up and down the Boot as well as happily marrying a native.
If Italians with a modicum of awareness take a leisurely stroll down any cobblestone street in any ancient town, they'll find themselves literally framed by a never-ending sequence of astonishing, accomplished architecture. And not for a nanosecond would they want to deface that picture. (When I see tour buses disgorging a flood of Day-Glo and sneakers, I'm tempted to call the condottieri.) This observation also explains why, 30 minutes after landing at Malpensa, the more enlightened of us visitors feel an irresistible urge to dash to the closest boutique.
The Italian designers in our annual fashion issue experience the exact same phenomenon, a powerful inspiration engine they rev for all it's worth. Giorgio Borruso's sassy, flirty Fornarina shop more than lives up to a baroque building in Rome—with stretched-polyester dressing rooms that could have been created by Isamu Noguchi. Up in Milan, Studio Rota & Partner's outrageous Just Cavalli boutique and café out-glams glamorous Via della Spiga. Just picture white vinyl, red carpet, mirrored panels, and mink upholstery. At Gianfranco Ferré headquarters in the artsy Brera dis- trict, Franco Raggi imbues an early 20th-century building with ducal grandeur in the form of Nero di Svezia marble floors and a boiserie meeting room.
By the time you read all this, I'll already be back from Salone del Mobile. Who knows what new outfit, shoes, and accessories I'll be wearing.