Pasta fagioli in Northern Italy is so thick a spoon can stand in it. In Southern Italy, it's much more soupy. Along the same lines, Italian menswear can mean the closed vent, glossy, grey double breasted, grey shoed fella, you see standing outside Boyds in Philadelphia. Or, it can mean the side vented, navy flannel, Anglo look that Italians do better than the English. Regardless of your preferred aesthetic, you can always count on texture taking a higher profile than anything English or American
Only the French make as big a deal about cloth and it's critical participation in communicating "oomph" -- If that's a word. The British suit of armor, a 6/4 db in dark grey or navy wool, depends on cut and balance with the occasional flash of a bright Bemberg lining. It's a soldiery look that can be as tight as their umbrellas.
The French and Italians use texture as if to say, "Come touch me." It's all about contrast through nubby jackets, smooth flannel trousers and cashmere scarves. Masses of layers: sweaters, shirts, chest hair and even wrists decorated with rows of multi-colored beads or, in France, Noir Desire tattoos.
I'm shown a rack of Italian looking apparel and am told it's a new line called, "Italy." And why not, I think. It makes all the sense in the world. Huge retailer that BB is, what with pipelines to vendors in Italy, it's a no brainer. Then I see the 'Made in Thailand' tag and I remember my favorite line from the 1965 film, Mickey One, where Warren Beatty asks, "What's not true?"
I just assume if a line is called, 'Italy' it's made in Italy. I look to see if it's all made in Thailand but nothing else on the rack is tagged. To be fair, it happens a lot during Fashion Week. Sometimes vendors are changed, styles dropped, goods replaced... Nothing is written in stone. Which makes, "What's not true?" much more difficult than it sounds -- Especially when you're talking to Mickey Two.
Check back here tomorrow for what Brooks Brother's is calling their Global Citizen line,
"Urbane and cosmopolitan, the global citizen feels perfectly at home wherever he goes. It is the blending of seemingly opposite ideas..."
I call it, "First Class Coach" and I mean that in a good way.