Craft, Style And Luxurious Artistry – The Italian Masters Collection

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Craft, Style And Luxurious Artistry – The Italian Masters Collection

Words by The MR PORTER Team | Photography by Mr Joss McKinley | Styling by Ms Otter Jezamin Hatchett

21 September 2020

Every day, innovators, tech geniuses and inventors dream up new ways to make things faster and easier. And, for the most part, our lives are better for such advancements. But some things are worth the wait. Worth the years of training, the arduous apprenticeships, the skill and the craftsmanship that go into creating them. At least, that’s the thinking behind our capsule collection of Italian designers, all chosen because of their dedication to the craft of style, and because their garments, accessories and homeware are built for those who appreciate meticulous detail and luxurious artistry.

This collection – which contains everything from T-shirts to ties, umbrellas to knitwear and, of course, glorious Italian tailoring – delivers on the full promise of craftsmanship. So, whether you’re looking for classic louche Mediterranean style, or to build a closet of heirloom-worthy pieces (which, with proper care, will last long enough to be passed down), look no further than this Italian Masters collection.

Nota bene: this is only a piccolo gusto; the full collection contains pieces from 25 superb brands. Click here to explore the full capsule and stay tuned as we showcase more excellent pieces from the collection over the coming days on The Journal.

We all know that style isn’t limited to what we put on our bodies. No, what goes in our home is just as important as what we wear when we leave it. Which is why we’ve included several homeware items in this capsule, as shown above. A bamboo-handled cocktail set from Lorenzi Milano will inspire envy before your guests even take a sip, while their olfactory senses will be surprised and delighted by  Fornasetti candles, housed in white ceramic presentation box adorned with the classic house’s artwork. Pineider’s travel desk is the ultimate luxurious travelling or home office, while FPM Milano’s studded and ribbed luggage is about as stylish a way to transport your clothes as you will find anywhere. Finally, wrap up in Missoni Home’s blankets and throws. The colours used in its classic knits for this collection were inspired by views from the Missoni family boat: think sunsets, cresting waves and fish glistening in crystal waters.

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Neapolitan tailoring as we know it today dates back to the 1930s, and the atelier of Mr Gennaro Rubinacci. By stripping away the heavy padding of the British-inspired jackets that were popular at the time, Mr Rubinacci pioneered a lighter, more summer-appropriate style of suiting that has since become synonymous with the city of Naples. Now under the stewardship of the founder’s son, Mariano, and grandson, Luca, Rubinacci remains a bastion of Neapolitan tailoring. The brand’s signature lightweight tailoring features prominently in this capsule collection, alongside lightweight linen jackets and a range of nautically themed pocket squares, which can be worn (above, left) as neckerchiefs. 

In addition to creating a suit for this collection that will be worn by none other than Mr Daniel Craig as James Bond in the upcoming instalment, Massimo Alba designed this suave wool number (along with some knits, shirts, and other excellent items). The brand focused on pieces that would be easily dressed up and down – allowing the wearer to bring his styling chops to bear depending on the situation he might find himself in. Here, for example, we have a rather classic wool flannel suit, styled with a rather casual checked shirt, atop a rather more casual tee – and sneakers. Swap out the shirts and shoes for dressier items and you have yourself a formal suit. We do love versatility, don’t you?

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If your interest is not piqued by the Caruso pastel-mint double-breasted blazer in the Italian Masters collection (above, left), which achieves distinction by being both striking and relaxed, you’re probably in the wrong place. What part of “effortless sophisticate attending a yacht party on the Amalfi Coast” don’t you aspire to? Alongside the green cutaway-collar shirt we’ve styled it with here, as well as the burnt-orange pleated trousers (just out of shot), the blazer might be our favourite piece in the 12-piece, suit-focused collection from a heritage brand founded in 1958 in a tiny tailoring workshop in Parma.

Suits tailored in Italy are known for being unstructured, unlined and unpadded, and Lardini’s (above, right) is a perfect example, being slim yet roomy, beautifully cut but also relaxed. Cropped trousers allow you to show off your choice of shoe – or sandal; proof, if it were needed, of how versatile an Italian suit can be. A family brand, Lardini is dedicated to preserving the tradition of tailoring through its innovative yet classic designs. 

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Altea is a Milan-based family venture with more than a century of history to its name.  Its strong use of colour and passion for textiles has made it highly sought after, and this ocean-hued over-dyed jacket (above, left), which has been hand-embroidered, is a standout piece from the collection. This type of embroidery and fabric dying is part of Altea’s plan to become more sustainable; by teaching traditional techniques to a new generation of craftsman and ensuring its dyes and processes are as gentle as possible on the environment, this historic house is making a bold statement about its future.

Neapolitan brand De Petrillo turns traditional concepts of tailoring upside down, producing pieces that feel at once modern and smart, clean-cut and streetwise. It doesn’t think of itself as a fashion brand, rather it produces “style” for men who don’t keep up with the last from the runways. De Petrillo’s philosophy is eloquently articulated in this stylish pairing (above, right) of plaid jacket over roomy pleat-front chinos (worn with simple sneakers, of course).

The Italian Masters capsule collection includes dozens of accessories for men who recognise that the little details make all the difference. Valextra presents a selection of architectural wallets and leather goods, all constructed with the meticulous approach the Milanese brand is renowned for. We can also recommend the ties of E.MARINELLA’s, which are made from vintage fabrics; the jewel-like cufflinks made by VillaFrancesco Maglia’s masterful umbrellas, with their unique and exquisite handles; and the stylish acetate frames by L.G.R. 

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Founded by the husband and wife team of Mr Gerardo Cavaliere and Ms Margherita Cardelli, Giuliva Heritage is nothing if not a celebration of Italy’s long history of craftsmanship, with the pieces in the collection being handmade using traditional Neapolitan tailoring techniques. For Mr Cavaliere, the grey Umberto trousers with the Stefano blazer in navy blue hopsack and the Taddeo polo shirt in jersey navy blue represents the closest thing to what he calls “my idea of the Italian sprezzatura”.

We’ve stocked Aspesi, founded in 1969 by Mr Alberto Aspesi, since the early days of MR PORTER, so we know what to expect from this timeless, technical brand from Milan. Newcomers to Aspesi will appreciate its minimalist, sophisticated wardrobe staples, made in Italy from fabrics sourced all over the world. Aspesi was responsible for transforming the down jacket into everyday outerwear, and its exclusive pieces for the Italian Masters collection include a faux suede-trimmed, garment-dyed shell coat, super functional shell overshirt and linen-blend pleated trousers (above, right).

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The old ways – traditional methods and reliance on what nature provides – had something going for them, as evidenced by Skin to Seed’s grooming products (above, left). The organic ingredients used to make its bathroom essentials are largely grown on the brand’s own Tuscan farm; anything it isn’t able to grow itself is sourced from micro-producers and wild foragers. Seed to Skin’s natural creams and serums  are not only seriously good for your skin, they’re also presented in handblown Italian glass jars.

Venetian label Incotex was founded as part of the Slowear group in 1951. But do not assume that its 70-year history means the brand relies on heritage alone. Its marriage of Italian craftsmanship with technical innovation is exemplified in the Slowear Urban Traveller Suit (above, right), created exclusively for the Italian Masters collection. Made from TechDry fabric, it lives up to its name, being suitably elegant, as well as being incredibly resistant to creasing, machine washable, and drying quicker than you can say, “Mine’s a double espresso”.

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No ode to Italian style would be complete with several lines dedicated to Etro, the family-run business set up by Mr Gimmo Etro in 1968, and now run by his four children. Specialising in Italian style, elegance and quality, Etro does romance, too. For our Italian Masters collection, this slim-fit smoking jacket with richly embroidered flowers on velvet fabric (above, left) has the potential to steal hearts away, while the enchantment of travel is explored in a Saharan-oasis-themed printed shirt. The knitted cardigan, meanwhile, is interwoven with the brand’s iconic paisley motif. 

The ultimate goal for MP Massimo Piombo, its founder explained to us in 2016, is to bridge the gap between old and new, classic and contemporary. Challenging accepted notions of luxury and shunning anything that he sees as “troppo borghese” (too bourgeois), Mr Piombo normally spends most of the year travelling the world sourcing the best and most exotic fabrics. He describes the pieces he’s made for Italian Masters as a “gallery of imagination”, one that “mixes fabric and colours with curiosity.” This energetic yet seemingly nonchalant pursuit of elegance is quintessentially Italian. He calls it the “Piombo cocktail” – prepare to be intoxicated.

MR PORTER has partnered with the Fondazione Cologni dei Mestieri d'Arte to support the Foundation’s annual “A School, A Job. Training to Excellence” apprenticeship programme, which matches 25 Italian graduates from a selection of the best schools and universities of Arts and Crafts with 25 Italian artisanal ateliers or businesses. The theme of this year’s apprenticeship is “Renaissance and Sustainability”; it is seven months in length and comprises of one-month university training in Milan, followed by six-months on-the-job experience.