The Smalto Suits – Absolute Icons of Cinematographic Elegance

Charles Aznavour dedicated him a couplet in “Je me voyages déja”… Something along the lines of “J’étais certain de conquérir Paris / Chez le tailleur le plus chic j’ai fait faire / Ce complet bleu qu’était du dernier cri” [I was sure of conquering Paris / At the most chic tailor in Paris / This latest blue suit]. Throwback to an icon of the genre. 

Once again, Calabria in Italy was the crib for a talented couturier. If his style is less flashy than Gianni Versace’s, it is because Francesco Smalto was formed at Harris, president Kennedy’s tailor. Discretion and luxury in the details being at the centre point, Smalto would later on inject a high dose of refinement, but just like that as if it were nothing. “My goal was to be a couturier different from the others, which is to say to offer something that can’t be seen anywhere else…”

Settled in Paris, rue de La Boétie, in 1962, Francesco Smalto’s boutique would not take long to attract the eyes of the artists of the time. Claude François and Charles Aznavour appreciated the mastery of the suit to such an extent that he made it an indispensable piece for the chic and  ambitious man just arrived in Paris. In the song “Je me voyages déja” he is referring to a Smalto suit after all!

It must be said that Francesco Smalto works the art of the suit like no one else. Inspired by the sportswear trend which was in vogue in the 80s, Smalto conceived light and flexible suits. Made of jersey or wild silk, these double-breasted suits or suits with flat pockets and sewn flaps would become the symbol of important men. In real life, politicians swore by him. Françoise Sagan also, “He is one of the rare men that is able to mix luxury and sobriety, daily life and brightness. He is an artists and a god”. 

At the cinema, the wildly elegant pieces help the most emblematic of characters like Alan Delon, Jean-Paul Belmondo or even Sean Connery. In Bernardo Bertolucci’s “The Last Emperor” the characters wear Smalto suits – and the play on the brightness of the materials only adds to the fascination!

The Smalto signature? Flower in the button hole, rolled shoulder, Milanese button hole, simplified finishings, lighter lining. The “foulard” tuxedo in crêpe de Chine weighs only 380 grams giving the house a world record…Talking about champions, Smalt is today the official wardrobe for the French football team. Off field, of course. Each of their suits is made under the exact same process as the one invented by Francesco Smalto. The maison details “70 hours of work, 33 steps, 20 artisans are indispensable to create each suit by hand through a traditional technique”. A magnificence  that drives Smalto to receive the title of the label “Entreprise du patrimoine” delivered by the french state. A prodigy both discrete and iconic!

The Louis Vuitton Malle – An Icon Made Ideal By Its Versatility

Made to measure orders and insanely practical innovations – the Louis Vuitton trunk goes beyond expectations to reach the wildest dreams. Since 1854. 

The history of Louis Vuitton is incontestably linked to that of the rise of transport at the turn of the 20th century. It is because Louis Vuitton had an eye, and a good one at that. During his apprenticeship, the founder of the most luxurious house in the galaxy knew how to observe the movements of the time. In 1854 curved trunks are out – Louis Vuitton invents a flat trunk, practical and ideal for stacking in boats, emerging cars and trains. But not any! The voyages on the Orient Express were at their prime. 

The Maharajas and Kings of the Orient became unofficial ambassadors for the Vuitton house. But at the end of the 19th century, and the beginning of the 20th century were also times of great explorations – archaeologists and explorers make no wait to make special orders at the house. And the house undertakes them with brilliance!

In 1868, Louis Vuitton created the Lit trunk for the Exposition Universelle in Paris. A short time after, the explorer Pierre Savorgant de Brazza made it iconic. In 1872 it is the sultan of the Ottoman Empire Abdulhamid II that ordered a trunk for his undergarments. In 1886 Georges Vuitton revolutionises the comfort of travel by inventing an unlockable lock. The Vuitton trunks become well and truly treasure trunks. 

Paul Poiret is charmed and ordered trunks to be made both for his plays and for his personal use. Jeanne Lanvin does the same for her toiletries. The fashion world truly embraced the innovation but in 1911 the explorer Albert Kahn brings in the dimension of adventure. 

He orders at Louis Vuitton a travel trunk to transport his photography and video kit and personal belongings. Thanks to these trunks, he was able to bring to Europe one of the largest collections of autochromes in glass consecrated to the diversity of peoples and cultures…coming from five continents and more than sixty countries!

The traveling spirit of Ernest Hemingway found in the Louis Vuitton trunk an ideal companion for his dreams. Foreign correspondent settled in Paris in the middle of the 20s, he orders a version of the trunk for his library where he keeps not only books but also a typewriter. This trunk would follow him his entire life before disappearing. Found again in the basement of the Ritz, it contained the manuscript of A Moveable feast  – his posthumous masterpiece!

It is then not surprising to learn that painters such as Matisse and Picabio trusted Louis Vuitton for their painting trunks. Promise of eternal security – at once chic and practical! Louis Vuitton, who, in 2019 imagined a mini-trunk for Apple AirPods. To each century its desires and priorities. Louis Vuitton is there to create them. 

Chanel’s Métiers d’Art 2020 Show

Around the mythical staircase of the rue Cambon, the entire grammar of the double-C house has – once again – been magnified. As its star the little black coat, tweed suit and the N°5. in a sautoir version. 

Since Chanel has started to preserve the French savoir-faire that is nearly disappearing, the group is lucky to have some of the most skilled and beautiful artisans of the hexagon. Lesage, Massaro, Maison Michel…they have contributed to a collection unique in its type since it only belongs to Chanel. The Métiers d’Art 2020 collection has been for Virginie Viard an occasion to orchestrate her magnified vision of the Chanel icons. The result?

A plethora of silhouettes just as suave as they are desirable, passing around the mythical staircase of rue Cambon specially reproduced with the participation of Sofia Coppola. This staircase resonates today as a starting point for the Chanel collections by Virginie Viard: “I think first of the staircase: I imagine a girl walking down. With what dress? Which shoes?” But it is the first Métiers d’Art collection post-Lagerfeld, it is still the nave of the Grand Palais that holds the event. Hence, on the podium the eminently precious craft of French luxury marries with  elation the codes of Chanel. 

The iconic tweed suit finds a new equilibrium around a lower waist than usual. While the little coat reduces itself into more graphic lines. The camélia, thanks to the genius Lesage and Lemarié finds itself sculpted onto evening bombers, where it is printed on aerial feathers. Better yet, the legendary bi-colour slippers imagined by Massaro in 1957 for Chanel are here ornate with little knots of gold leather. “The Métiers d’art bring me their savoir-faire. They sublimate our creations” clarifies Virginie Viard. And it is true that this collection has something more essential; like a desire to let the talent of the artisans coming from the thirty-three maisons that make up the Métiers d’art speak for themselves. “There is a form of simplicity by coming back to the the ABC’s of Chanel. There is no need to go overboard” explains the current artistic director of the house. 

In the end a very Parisian conception of allure – this spark of madness that we recognise with a bird cage … a frank and efficient wink at advertisement that is nonetheless iconic imagined by Jean-Paul Goude. Vanessa Paradis as a Chanel bird. And even, the N°5 inspired by the shape of the Place Vendôme, robbed of its size, this time as a sautoir. The spirit of Chanel, magnificently. 

Fendi’s Peekaboo, The Baguette and The Dolce Vita – Spring/Summer 2020

A first collection without Karl Lagerfeld that promises happy times for the Fendi house – even just by having a look at the new Baguette and Peekaboo!

“Reality. I always start from reality. Given that I am a woman, I want to give real clothes. That is why I don’t call this pret-a-porter but vrai-a-porter. I think that the greatest homage is to see your clothes on people. That’s why I wanted to start by simple things, like emotions, for example: the feeling of a sunny day, when you feel really free, ready to go out and when you meet people and you are an optimist towards life”. The vision of Silvia Venturini Fendi for Spring/Summer 2020 breathes everything that is Dolce Vita. Exquisite pieces, a concept of Fun Fur worked in a light and delicious streak – Fendi distills a soft and aristocratic attitude. 

In this spirit, the iconic Peekabo bag is cut on green raffia and scratched with glitter. Concerning the Baguette, the first it-bag of the modern era, it is thought up in a combination of pearls – in tones inspired by the sunset of Southern Italy. But don’t be fooled – the women of Fendi Spring/Summer 2020 are not candy sweets. 

They have style, a lot, a true attitude. “I wanted to have fun making small Hawaiian shirts in shearling, retro bathrobes with thermobonded mink on the Lycra of Bikinis, power dressing tailored vests in cushioned sponge” says Silvia Venturini Fendi. The result? An endless amount of desirable silhouettes! Glam and cool, simple and most of all decluttered of a certain austerity. 

The Hogan Sneakers, The Pioneers Shine For Christmas

 The iconic Hogans trade their habitual discreteness for a much more dashing look.

We all know the Iconic H of the Hogan house for being the first luxury sneakers imagined for life in the city. In 1986, the Tod’s group innovated around a pair of sneakers that were at once understated and exceptional – a genius melange between Italian refinement and the indispensable practicality of urban life. 

Since a few seasons already, the Hogan sneaker has been able to adapt to the style and audacity of the times. Inspired by the world of cricket, the icon titillates between genres going from glitters, to galaxies and to the more funky while always keeping its eight metallic eyelets and its contrasting sole.

For the end of this year, we have then the dashing and shimmering Hogan – a perfect echo to the marvellous aesthetic of Christmastime. In store? Two pairs for women baptised Maxi.I.Active and two for men.. the first being called Active One – in black and gold. The second taking the popular H365 but this time revisited in black with a gold heel. A glamorous and festive vision of the functional … to grace the most chic of soles this year!

Prada And Adidas – A Meeting Of Icons

When Prada and Adidas collaborate around an exclusive capsule collection, it is to better revisit two of their icons. 

The Bowling bag from Prada. The Superstar from Adidas. The capsule collection of two of the most innovative houses from the past decade promises to please a number of aficionados. It must be said that the concept has a lot to offer – not two separate pieces but truly two pieces that are imagined and sold together.

The Prada Bowling bag and the Adidas Superstore cannot be bought separately, the pack constitutes a limited and numbered edition of only 700 pieces. Here, the Prada name engraves itself on the legendary Superstar from Adidas while the iconic Bowling bag of the 2000s is declined in a broken white – the iconic shade of the Superstar!

All that’s left to do is wait until December 4th to try to acquire the result of a much awaited collaboration. When the most avant-garde house of elegance meets with the brand that was able to inject youth into the daily silhouette – it creates something truly desirable!

Tod’s, The Imperturbable Gommino

An icon of fashion is judged by its ability to adapt itself to the times and the Tod’s Gommino is one of those!

Last October, the Italian house Tod’s presented the nomination of its new artistic director – Walter Chiapponni! Diego Della Valle, president of the Tod’s group announced “Walter Chiapponi is a talented Italian designer  who is capable of combining the Italian art de vivre true to Tod’s with a touch of modernity without losing from sight quality and savoir-faire which are representative of the brand’s DNA”. The piece that incarnated the quiet strength of fashion in the Italian style is of course – the Gommino. 

The key piece of the house, according to the very words of Diego Della Valle, wears like “a glove for the foot”. Inspired by the anti-slip slippers, especially appreciated by race-car drivers, the Gommino has since conquered the world with its 133 rubber pebbles. Symbol of Italian elegance, the Tod’s Gommino is also a fruit of savoir-faire. Exclusively produced in the ateliers of Brancadoro some kilometres away from Milan, it is conceived from one single and same piece of leather. Hand-sown and doubled with the famous rubber soul made up of 133 iconic pebbles, The Gommino lends itself to all creative visions. 

From Alessandra Facchinetti to Alber Elbaz and then passing again to new creative director Walter Chiapponi, the Gommino adorns itself in the most beautiful of materials, distilling to perfection the imperturbable refinement proper to Italians. The Gommino has been at once playful in bright acidic colours, serene and noble in more sophisticated leathers and a collector’s piece in a version collaborated with Ferrari. Since 1978, the signature piece of the artisanal heritage of Tod’s is an elegant ideal – chic and creative! For men and women. Re-explored and reviewed in a chunky version for 2020, it will embrace a bestiary aspect (leopard, zebra) for the woman of Spring/Summer 2020. While waiting until then, the new Milanese boutique recently inaugurated on the famous Via Montenapoleone offers a new shopping experience. Baptised Tod’s Studios, it brings together the pieces of the season but also a personalisation atelier and exhibitions. A way to better understand the impact of the Gommino on Italian culture! 

The Prada Bowling Bag – Return Of An Icon

The graceful return of a key piece from the “Sincere Chic” wardrobe of Prada – seen for the first time in 1999. 

The anti-conformist Miuccia Prada has often created some of the most desirable items in fashion from the past thirty years. After the return of the Pocono, the Italian maison surprised the entire world with its 2020 Resort show through its latest remake to date – the iconic Bowling bag. 

September 1999, Prada is a figure of a new luxury vocabulary: the “jolie laide”, a silhouette that is uninhibited and earnestly desirable, finding its culmination point in the Spring/Summer 2000 Collection. Baptised “Sincere Chic”, the show showcases the codes that have now become iconic for Prada. As it’s star – the unexpected and curved Bowling Bag. 

It is an immediate success. The Prada store have to put in place waiting lists to manage the high demand for the Bowling Bag. Now reedited for it’s 20th birthday, the it-bag has also been reimagined. 

In a color-block version that is more pop – the Bowling Bag preserved its silky-effect leather – a true savoir-faire of the Prada maison. A new vision of the icon, refined and extremely cool!

Houndstooth And Tailleur Bar : The Sustainable Vision Of Dior For Spring/Summer 2020

Maria Grazia Chiuri wanted a collection wear creativity and sustainability are fused – Miss Dior and the coupe bar in the forefront! 

From Christian Dior, we know of the femme-fleur, his own love for the rose and the softness of the Miss Dior perfume. What we know less is that Catherine Dior, his sister, was not only a decorated resistante after the Second World War, but also found her reminiscent in botany and gardening. Nature and the beauty of flowers have a resonating effect on this exceptional woman. It is exactly this that Maria Grazia Chiuri wanted to underline for Spring/Summer 2020. 

The result? A plethora of silhouettes inspired by this gardener, but also all the iconic codes of the Dior house injected here and there. The houndstooth motif, present from the very first collections of Monsieur, makes more than apparition – they are interweaved to the H line, tightened by the Bar cut, it gives an unexpected charm to the Spring/Summer 2020 silhouette. Better, it is coiffed with a bob cut reclaiming the mythical carnage of 30 Avenue Montaigne that Maria Grazia Chiuri gains in pertinence!

Created by Stephen Jones, “The hats for Dior this season are made using straw collected in Switzerland, Italy, the Philippines and France. It is the United Nations assembled into a straw hat” jokes the famous hat-maker. An ode to nature, this Spring/Summer 2020 collection from Dior goes outside of the frame of desirability to give to today’s women eternal pieces. A sort of fusion between heritage and future, under the guise of Mother Nature, carrying environmentalist statements. No need to make functional fashion to respect the planet!

See-Through Blouse, Smoking And Hippie Spirit For Saint Laurent’s Spring/Summer 2020

“Saint-Laurent is dangerous elegance” according to the maison’s artistic director Anthony Vaccarello. 

Paris, September 2019. The gardens of the Trocadéro are home once again to the highly scripted runway show of Saint Laurent. There, with the Eiffel Tower as backdrop, the YSL women strut sleekly under a roaring but poetic rain. All in legs, these goddesses of the night wear the iconic gimmicks of Yves Saint Laurent initiated in the last century. The Smoking, of course but also the hippie-glam inspiration!

It must be said that the revolution brought on by Monsieur Yves consisted largely to magnify the fashion-gimmicks of a street that was once brimming with freedom. We find the turbans and the bohemian spirit of the Rive Gauche which were adorned by Loulou de la Falaise. This time, however, it is combined to entirely different key motifs of YSL fashion thought up by Anthony Vaccarello. The bohemian dresses embrace the see-through effect, while the iconic blouse of the house reappears on the shoulder of Freja Beha in a version all close to the original.

The beautiful credit to the seventies opulence carries the very contemporary simplicity of the cut out débardeur when it is made almost transparent! And that is where all the merit of such a house lies – to meddle with elegance and refinement the sulphurous with the distinctive.. but as resumes Anthony Vaccarello, “Saint Laurent is dangerous elegance”.