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Luciano Barbera at Pitti Uomo 83, Part I

Discussion in 'Classic Menswear' started by unbelragazzo, Feb 13, 2013.

  1. unbelragazzo

    unbelragazzo Senior member Dubiously Honored

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    If there is a living legend in menswear today, it is Luciano Barbera. He is admired and revered by internet celebrities from pocketsquareguy to dieworkwear! to Will. Pictures of him are able to resolve debates at a single posting. And yet he never looks like he's dressing to resolve debates on the internet.

    He is to the modern interest in men's clothing what Doyle Brunson is to the poker, what Muddy Waters was to blues-rock music of the 60s. Signor Barbera has been living and creating men's clothing since 1971. He was Tumblr-famous 40 years before Tumblr even existed. It is as if hordes of tight-trousered, short-jacketed, multi-patterned Pitti casualties, stricken with #menswear fever, have arrived in his living room, find him relaxing after a hard day's work, rakishly but never egregiously dressed. He looks up from his snifter, bewildered and a little alarmed. “Buona sera...please, have a seat, all of you. Can I get you a drink? You look like tired. Are you traveling street performers?”

    The Luciano Barbera style is notably more English than the other Italian brands at Pitti, who are mostly in a contest to see who can produce the lightest jacket and stake the most righteous claim to representing true Neapolitan style. The contrast to the dramatically lit Kiton stand across the walkway was notable.

    As an attendant showed me through the collection, out of the corner of my eye I see...yes, it is the man himself. He talks to a buyer for a while until my handler sees an opening to make the introduction. He greets me warmly before another buyer demands his attention. Later the attendant says he'll see what he can do to set up an interview, and tells me to come back the next day.

    Invigorated by the possibility, I skip over to the Belvest stand, wondering what tomorrow may bring. In the middle of admiring a Belvest coat, Signor Barbera walks up to me. “Did you want to do an interview? We can talk now if you like.”

    Nobody I met at Pitti was more composed and more comfortable in his own style than Signor Barbera. His clothes present the same easy, but not brash, self-confidence. A presence that, in his own words, suggests a respect for oneself as well as a respect for others.

    This interview will be published in bite-sized chunks. Here is the first.

    StyleForum: How do you think menswear has changed in the last fifty years?

    Luciano Barbera: It's our lifestyle that has changed. People's lives having changed, and there being less rigor in dress, people feel more free not to follow the customs that existed once upon a time. Everything is – don't misunderstand me, but – a little more vulgar. Because unfortunately, often when one goes beyond some form of rigor, one ends up in the ridiculous, the obvious, and the banal.

    SF: Is your intent to introduce more elegance into the world?

    LB: Certainly. And at the same time to follow modern culture. But to educate people that, even in a new world, there's always a way to be respectful of yourself and respectful of others. So with our collection we try to offer a wardrobe that's accessible, use extremely beautiful materials, treating our jackets with great care, without falling into the trap of “glamour”. Because this lasts only for a moment, while with our jackets, understanding that men today wear jackets only in rather formal circumstances, we remain faithful to the traditional roots of men's clothes.

    SF: What are these roots for you?

    My family. My grandmother, a wonderful woman with a unique allure, from whom I have always drawn inspiration. From her way of doing things and carrying herself. Also many other gentlemen of her generation whom I met as a boy. But of my grandmother I remember her voice, her decency. Her elegance and style was in her actions.

    It may seem strange to say these things here at Pitti. But here there's not just beautiful fabrics, but also a desire to express oneself. Whether it's successful or not, is not easy to say. But there's an attempt to say something. Whether it's a suit, or a jacket, or a pair of shoes, there's always something to notice. I've always understood the details of an item of clothing to be very important.

    SF: In men's clothing in particular, it seems to me.

    LB: For a woman, one day she wears something, the next day she throws it out. For men instead, some things remain. Things that are chosen with care.

    SF: How should a man choose these things?

    LB: The style of a man's clothes grows out of the style of the man himself, as an individual, rather than the other way around. A man has to understand himself before he can understand his style.

    I work for these men, not for myself. A man has to understand if a jacket that we make is going to work for him. The more you choose things that represent you, the more they adapt to you, rather than just being objects that adorn you. Instead some people dress only to please others.

    [​IMG]
    Texture.

    [​IMG]
    Incredible fabric.

    [​IMG]
    Patch ticket pocket.

    [​IMG]
    Gun club check and paisley fabric. Flower optional.

    [​IMG]
    Ties.

    [​IMG]
    Ties!

    [​IMG]
    If you find a more beautiful scarf, let me know.

    [​IMG]
    Jackets.

    [​IMG]
    LB fabrics.

    [​IMG]
    Me and Signor Barbera.
     
    9 people like this.
  2. FlaneurNYC

    FlaneurNYC Senior member

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    Very interesting to hear from a living legend, as they say. Thank you. I will be anxiously awaiting installment two!
     
  3. poorsod

    poorsod Senior member

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    The quotes regarding the need for rigor and understanding oneself are fantastic because they touch upon some issues being debated on the good taste thread.
     
  4. Ivar

    Ivar Senior member

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    +1
     
    Last edited: Feb 13, 2013
  5. TRINI

    TRINI Senior member

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    ISTHATFOLDEDSILKISEEINHISPOCKET?
     
    1 person likes this.
  6. unbelragazzo

    unbelragazzo Senior member Dubiously Honored

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    No. I have another pic that shows better, will post later. It's just kind of a pointy puff.
     
  7. in stitches

    in stitches Senior member Moderator

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    I want that gun club sportcoat so bad it hurts.
     
  8. Dorothea Brooke

    Dorothea Brooke Member

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    Nice to hear two elegant men having a conversation.
     
  9. in stitches

    in stitches Senior member Moderator

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    finally got a chance to really read the article. great job, unbel. he seems like a warm, friendly, knowledgable and fascinating man. i look forward to seeing the rest.
     
  10. CaymanS

    CaymanS Senior member

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    Not to mention charcoal odd trousers...that's two StyleForumFAILs in one outfit.

    That said, he's one of the best dressed men who ever walked this earth, so I think he gets a pass.
     
  11. fassbinder

    fassbinder Senior member

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    They look like mid grey on my monitor, not charcoal.
     
  12. unbelragazzo

    unbelragazzo Senior member Dubiously Honored

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    Yea they're mid grey. You can see they basically match my suit, which is mid-grey.

    Take note that you don't see any shirt below the buttoning point of his jacket.
     
  13. unbelragazzo

    unbelragazzo Senior member Dubiously Honored

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    He's definitely all those things, but also has a level of gravitas that nobody else at Pitti really approaches. He is having a great time, but considers this serious business.

    I remember the last thing he told me as we said goodbye was [paraphrasing], "please, educate people about this, even if they don't buy my stuff, because it's important."
     
    Last edited: Feb 14, 2013
  14. mack11211

    mack11211 Senior member

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    "Vulgar"...yes! What an apropos word.

    I gather you did this in Italian and then translated?

    Very good interview; please post more installments.

    I read on the LB blog that his father Carlo died last month at the age of 101. May LB live at least as long.
     
    Last edited: Feb 14, 2013
  15. unbelragazzo

    unbelragazzo Senior member Dubiously Honored

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    Mack,
    Yes, I did the interview in Italian and then translated. LB speaks perfectly good English, but I wanted him to be able to speak as comfortably as possible, and also I prefer speaking Italian anyway. Thanks so much for the link to LB's blog, which I didn't know about. And hear, hear, to your closing thoughts.
     
    Last edited: Feb 14, 2013
  16. Digmenow

    Digmenow Senior member

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    Congratulations!

    Why am I not surprised to learn that you speak fluent Italian? Stitchy didn't ask, so I will. No shoe circle?

    No. I suppose not.
     
  17. unbelragazzo

    unbelragazzo Senior member Dubiously Honored

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    Thanks Dig! Great to see you back around these parts.

    I would have asked, but I didn't know the word for "shircle" in Italian.
     
  18. in stitches

    in stitches Senior member Moderator

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    he is awesome. i am now even prouder to own some of his wares. i want moar.


    you speaka da italiahno?

    also - pants look mid gray on my monitor.
     
  19. in stitches

    in stitches Senior member Moderator

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    lastly, props to unbel on taking a pic standing next to LB, and still looking good. i imagine he would make many look less than stellar, comparatively, lol.
     
  20. unbelragazzo

    unbelragazzo Senior member Dubiously Honored

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    Grazie, Signor Estitchy! It's a photo that I hope to look back on fondly for many years to come.
     

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