Words and Pictures by Jasper L
Tragically, capes are almost unheard of in America, being generally viewed as things that nerds cover with Cheeto dust and who knows what else after whacking each other with foam swords and comparing dice. Tragic, because they, in their bliss, understand something that you do not: capes are fucking rad.
Tabarrificio Veneto, another project from Barena founder Sandro Zara, makes some of the raddest capes around. Most are based on traditional Italian garments, and the racks at Pitti are bursting with fantasies: one cape is billed as a cape for “normal people,” the kind any Italian man might wear on a daily basis; another is a military cape; and tucked into a corner is a truly majestic Phantom-esque cape to be worn to the opera, masquerade ball, or the living burial of your greatest enemy.
My favorite model is the 1518, which is based on the short cloaks worn by Italian military troops. It is, as far as capes go, very wearable – by which I mean that it looks unexpectedly normal over a pair of jeans and boots, and unless you lead a far more exciting life than I do, you are unlikely to ever run into another person wearing the same outfit. The website has more options, including a highwayman-worthy hooded cape complete with a wheel brace for stability when outrunning furious merchants on horseback.
If tradition doesn’t make your blood sing, there are stranger choices. Pieces that might have been capes once, long ago, but have been morphed by the relentless pull of modernity into something not-quite-cape and not-quite-coat: Double-riders, Montgomeries, one-size-fits-all coats that are really just capes that have grown mutated, cape-like arms. Wonderfully, every offering has the same oh-so-slightly-gothic fairy-tale charm.
The look isn’t everything. No picture can fully communicate the magic of donning (yes, donning) a cape: one must grab it firmly but gently by the lapels, gracefully curl the spine, and then extend, swirling the cape about one’s shoulders in a motion that requires approximately twenty square feet of empty space if one doesn’t wish to endanger passersby. Once it’s on, you swing one side of the garment up over your opposite shoulder in a gesture so powerful it must be experienced to be understood. I did it one time and almost passed out. Muttering “Nemo me impune lacessitt” under your breath as you walk into the night gives +10 to vengeance.
Wearing a cape, even just putting on a cape, makes you feel awesome. Like a superhero, like a villain, like the man with no name seen through a lens of rain and cobblestones and Carnevale masks. Wear a tabarro to your D&D table if you like; better yet, wear it to the supermarket, the coffee shop, the barn and the theater. These are capes to be taken seriously; capes that are made to be worn, to be lived in and dreamed in.
Final image courtesy of Tabarroshop.com
To visit the Tabarrificio Veneto webshop and see even more capes, please click here.