Stay Cool Italian Style

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Stay Cool Italian Style

Words by Mr Stuart Husband

18 May 2016

Summer dressing made easy with five new and exclusive capsules from some of our favourite Italian brands.

There are many things that Italians just do better – coffee, sports cars, volcanoes. And they’ve also definitively nailed the art of summer dressing. True, they’ve had decades to hone the styles which perfectly complement their enviable climate, but who else would have come up with an array of pieces – unstructured blazers, featherweight linen and cashmere, the perfect bomber – that brook no compromise in elegance while remaining eminently fit for purpose? For many years, these Italian brands and their peerless offerings were the preserve of in-the-know connoisseurs, but we at MR PORTER believe they’re too good to stay under the radar, so we’ve curated a series of summer capsule collections that bring you the best and brightest signature looks from each, in exclusive colours and fabrics, to ensure you cut a bella figura this sun-dappled season. The perfect espresso may remain elusive, and the vintage Alfa Romeo might be more than a few bonuses away, but, sartorially at least, it’s finally possible to match the Italians at their own game.

For decades, Boglioli, a family-owned brand since its inception in 1900, has built a fervent, cult-like following among fashion insiders for its mastery of what might be termed “casual formality” – the art of combining tailored and casual pieces to relaxed, but telling, effect. Central to its (effortless-seeming) efforts has been the slim, relaxed jacket – soft in the shoulder, laid-back in the fabric, impeccable in the fit – that forms the cornerstone of our capsule collection, pairing sharp patterns (Prince of Wales and hound’s-tooth checks) with summer shades of navy and sand. All you need to complete the look is a sun-drenched garden party and a dirty prosecco.

Rubinacci blends Neapolitan flair with more than a dash of flamboyance, particularly in its accessories – from intricate print cashmere scarves and ties in premium silks to croc and velvet loafers – for which it’s become justly renowned. The company was founded in 1930, and pioneered a lighter, softer, more fluid form of tailoring, mixing shades, textures and layers with breezy confidence. Today, its jazzy ebullient aesthetic is exemplified by Mr Luca Rubinacci, grandson of the company’s founder, who’s become an Instagram star, thanks to his skill in showcasing Rubinacci’s way with colour and pattern. Our collection focuses on the house’s signature trousers, double-pleated to add rakish verve, alongside shorts and grandad-collar shirts for Riviera lounging. These are pieces that will add snap, crackle and pop to any summer ensemble.

“I try to make clothes in which you feel exactly as you are,” says Mr Massimo Alba. He might have added “only better”, as his 30 years in the industry have refined a highly tuned design sensibility. One of Mr Alba’s cotton blazers is not only garment-dyed to ensure a rich and organic finish, it’s also as beautifully rumpled and as easy to wear as a favourite sweatshirt. Meanwhile, his soft-washed shirts and shorts in insouciant linen mixes pull off the miraculous feat of being neither too baggy nor too tight. Experience the Alba effect in the gingham blazers, garment-dyed cashmere sweaters and striped linen trousers that make up our exclusive collection, and enjoy an object lesson in the nonchalant sprezzatura that is the birthright of the Milanese, where branded luxury is always trumped by artfully ruffled finesse.

Aspesi is a rare beast in today’s overexposed style market, in that it’s a true insider brand, with no real press office or garrulous spokesperson (though its charming founder, Mr Alberto Aspesi, is as actively involved in the brand as when he first set it up in the mid-1970s). Its stock in trade is effortless, understated styles with a subtle technical edge that will stay in your wardrobe forever – things like slim-fit chambray shirts, unstructured blazers, and a range of wonderful, slightly sporty outerwear. In its latest exclusive capsule for MR PORTER, the brand has worked with subtle desert-y shades of sand, grey and olive to create some superbly light pieces, including a brushed cotton and linen-blend field jacket, linen-herringbone hooded jacket and featherweight blazer, which will allow the wearer a great deal of versatility when dressing for the heat. Pair an olive-coloured shirt with some tan chinos and then throw on an overshirt to look completely unphased when temperatures start to rise.

Like its namesake, the legendary Italian tenor Mr Enrico Caruso, this brand takes tailoring staples and makes them sing or, in the case of its signature soft-construction Butterfly jacket, soar. It began in the 1950s as a small bespoke business, and grew to become a leading manufacturer of ready-to-wear menswear lines for many fashion powerhouses, so it’s no surprise that its own-label offering has become an in-the know favourite among the cognoscenti for its painstaking attention to detail. This reaches its apogee in the aforementioned Butterfly jacket – unstructured and unlined, and gossamer-light, but with a powerful presence, particularly in the sprightly summer colours, including a bright blue redolent of the seas off the Amalfi coast – which is exclusive to our collection.