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  • Pitti 87 - From Neapolitan dandies to the modern narcissists The teachings of Totò and Eduardo De Filippo

    Pitti 87 - From Neapolitan dandies to the modern narcissists

    The teachings of Totò and Eduardo De Filippo

    There they were walking arm-in-arm, smiling. Maybe after a theatrical premiere or, who knows, after a party. It was the '50s, maybe the ‘60s, and these two gentlemen were setting a trend not solely for their undisputed artistic skills. Everybody recognized the true elegance of Totò and Eduardo De Filippo, an elegance which, in fact, was that of the true Neapolitan gentlemen, comprised mostly of their mannerisms, stance and behavior towards others, in public and private life. They had elegance in their souls, which could also be ultimately seen in their clothing. Both were born, more or less, into poverty, and as soon as they became successful, they apparently started to also surround themselves with beautiful clothing, those treats "without which life becomes monotonous," as de Curtis said in an interview with Oriana Fallaci. Tailored suits, shirts, vests, hats, custom shoes, the wardrobe of Toto was even put on exhibition and his Caraceni tuxedo has even been displayed at the Palazzo Strozzi in Florence. But, it was their education and being true gentlemen that made those clothes even more beautiful.

    It was the '50s or ‘60s, but the modernity of these "outfits" - as they may be called today - is charming. Any great photographer of modern street-style would focus his lens on the precision of the cut and lines of the suit, the collar, the cascading geometric lines, and the buttoning which was free of creases and wrinkles. De Curtis loved to buy clothes from Caraceni in Rome, while De Filippo was a loyal customer of Gennaro Rubinacci (also known as "Bebè") in Naples, as Eduardo himself says in his diary.  They were not interested in the brand. Important to them was the quality and the creator of the masterpiece. Their testament lasts like a beautiful timeless classic, as true elegance that is ageless. With their mannerisms and with the lines in their movies, they taught us the real difference between men and corporals; the barren elegance of mere words and beautiful clothes were also stressed by their actions and by keeping their promises, not just saying them. Those were the days when Vittorio De Sica would wear his cream colored suit and Marcello Mastroianni in “Otto e Mezzo” warned a man in a shirt by saying: "Put on your jacket before you talk to me." Today, such a statement would make society smile, a society which prides itself in the demise of all the codes, in favor of a modernity without rules.

    Have the valuable lessons of the past been put into practice? Lately, people frequently speak of the phenomenon of the new gentlemen. In some cases, instead of being gentlemen, perhaps it really is what Raffaele La Capria in “L’amorosa inchiesta” shrewdly called "princes of appearances," also known in Naples as “gagà,” or dandy. According to the dictionary, the word indicates a vain man who flaunts elegance and sophistication, just like a peacock, to give it a zoomorphic definition. In the comedy "Napoli milionaria" - from the ‘40s - pants had straps stretched on the back to attach the buttons of suspenders; elegant men wore their pants short in order to show off their English shoes. Their riding jackets had no slits, and the armholes featured creases that were the signature of Neapolitan tailors. Everything at that time had a reason, and a man knew what he was wearing. We do not know if the same can be said today, but it is certain that such occasions as the Pitti and fashion weeks have become, for some, just an excuse to give free rein to their vanity; for some, it has become an eccentric run, in particular, to psychedelic colors that blind the eye, all of which are done so that they do not go unnoticed, but rather attract photographers, in complete disregard for detail, quality, and temperance. With all due respect, in short, a lack of true elegance.

    Bespoke hugs,

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