When it comes to fashion, Europeans have always fascinated me. In my traveling days it was not uncommon to be mistaken for one of them, rather than an Ugly American, which was always taken as the greatest of compliments. While most of my articles and reviews focus on the ladies of fashion, whether it be collections or personalities, today is about a gentleman who impressed me no end before our meeting and soon became the reason that we did meet in NYC very recently. I speak of Alessandro Squarzi. If you are not aware of this man then you clearly have not been doing your homework when it comes to men’s fashion … Particularly of the Italian variety. The sartorialists! … il culto della moda!!!
If you ARE doing your homework, you already know that there is a “cult” of these fashion arbiters that inhabit the world of men’s fashion. They are the men who are photographed season after season at Pitti Uomo, walking in the streets of European fashion capitals, either separately or as group as they demonstrate the originality, panache and style that belongs to each of them in their own unique way. These men remind those of us in fashion that it is not only about trend but it is about style… To paraphrase what Mrs. Vreeland once said … fashion is what you buy in a store … style is what happens when you put it together in your own way! These gentlemen are the true definition of style … they exemplify swagger and exude confidence.
Upon meeting this Signor Squarzi in person one becomes acutely aware that he has a rare sense of style, a very particular style that includes a mix of high low. There are those silent signals that tip you off to the fact that this is him… no pretense, no ostentation except to those who can read these silent signals, whether it be a wallet, a pen, a lighter, a watch. He is layered, he is accessorized, he is slick but in a sort of dishabille way and he exudes an ageless kind of presence that most wish they could buy but only comes within those who own it … genetically or inherently! One might say he has charisma to spare but in the most complimentary and non-offensive way. There is nothing smarmy about this man!
He is a collector of vintage watches, he expresses a particular fascination with 50’s timepieces and in particular Rolex but yet he confesses to owning all the brands that watch aficionados collect. We both agreed that Ralph Lauren possesses a greater talent than most designers could only hope for. We both agreed that so many of the fresh crop of so called new designers are not designers at all… they are merely copyists and they don’t even do that well. What sets Signor Squarzi apart from so many of his ilk is that not only is he man who devours clothes but he is a man who wields a huge influence within the world of fashion and by that I mean, not only by what he wears.
In his showroom in Milan (there are 4 in Italy) he houses approximately 20 collections that offer any retailer a top to bottom approach to men’s fashion … Basically everything from shoes on up and everything in between. Each collection reflects his philosophy of “dressing” and then there is his own collection, which at lack of a better expression would be considered “luxe repurposed vintage.” A quick explanation would be that old army parka that you see in army navy stores suddenly becomes a chic luxury piece when lined in fur or possibly some leather vest that has been reworked to reflect the times we live in. As with most ”creatives” of his sort, he doesn’t want to literally sell in the showroom, he wants to offer his particular point of view to international retailers yet he is keenly aware it is not for everyone. He is a stickler when it comes to quality and it shows with the collections that he represents as much as it does in his personal appearance. He is proud of his Italian heritage and what he has learned during his life and he wishes the world understood more about quality and tradition rather than “of the moment” styles that are here today and gone tomorrow and fall apart soon after that.
One last thing we discussed and that is classics or more traditional designs that are never old fashioned or look dated when the interpretation is timely… so we spoke of timeless design that has no “expiration date” attached to it and we both agreed that there are far too many designers out there with too little to offer who receive far too much attention for no other reason than advertising dollars….