Whether or not your summer plans include roaming European streets, capture the wonder of Italy’s inspiring structural marvels in warm-weather fashions infused with the elements of art, architecture, and design.
Centuries of scorching sun and lashing winds turn the stone of Europe’s bygone-era facades a whitewashed shade of nude, the sun-bleached brick taking on the faintest rose tint. The faded hue is a natural choice for summer’s delicate pieces, showing up in barely-there-pinks and tawny peaches, on everything from romantic frocks to palazzo pants. Accessories come in as soft taupe leathers and rose golds. In a particularly remarkable inspiration, the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II in Milan shows dusty rose walls topped with a lattice iron roof — a combination picked up by designers in playful additions of crochet or knitted detail.
Elaborate embroidery and sequined scrolls in tarnished silvers and blackened metallics glide across backgrounds of dove greys and creams, the intricately woven symmetrical details conjuring the artful metalwork and sophisticated sculpture of antique wrought-iron and carved-stone fencing. In a distinctive feature of Italian design, the contrast of metal against a beige stone backdrop is reinforced in the designers’ juxtaposition of heavier ornate detail gracing the airy lightness of tulle and organza.
The season’s richly patterned fabrics and tightly woven prints take their cue from the art of ornamental mosaic so prominently portrayed throughout the Mediterranean. Dating back over 4,000 years, Europe’s spectacular mosaics are a legacy of the ancient Romans and Greeks, with Byzantine and medieval collections embedded into Italy’s architectural heritage. Translated into vivid colours and masterful detail and paired with lustrous shine and crisp whites, mosaic-inspired styles exemplify resort boho chic, perfect for a summer on the Italian Riviera.
THE COOL ART OF AGING
A time-weathered patina that settles on antique stone and marble, turning historic ruins and ancient sculptures an earthy shade of burnished bronze, lends itself to a toughened, adventure-seeking, ultimately masculine look. Think worn, distressed leathers in shades of tobacco and cognac, which, like fine art, only get better with age; rough, rugged textures; relaxed desert-hued pieces in khakis and camels; and global-nomad accessories — comfortable loafers and aviators are a must, as is a smoky leather scent.
EMPEROR OF THE SEA
Summer’s traditional nautical influences sail into a distant past, steeped in the fanciful aura of myth and legend. Fabled Greek deities and undersea beings impart crisp marine styles with artful patterns and mythological motifs evoking classical illustrations such as Neptune’s battle with a giant sea creature. The sea’s breezy freshness is captured with lightweight fabrics in classic combinations of bright whites and navy blues, while longer double-breasted toppers, tailored trousers, and silk scarves add an unexpectedly elegant departure from the season’s casual boating look.
Sharp lines, geometric forms, and ingenious use of colour go from street to runway, bringing the art and science of Italian architecture to structural seasonal styles. Italian architects’ notorious experimentation with optical illusion and adherence to precise design, perspective, symmetry, and the divine ratio, all find their way into simple shapes, understated colours, and aptly applied patterns that play with our visual perception. Subtle stripes fool the eye into following their direction, and tightly tailored cuts keep a centred focus.
Text by Kate Missine; Translated by Tiantian; Produced by Many Ngom.