The understated charm of Italy
Legendary Mediterranean style icon Marcello Mastroianni teaches us a lesson in effortless chic.
Rome, 1960. By a late deserted night, Anita Ekberg, unreal under Fellini’s loving eye, enters the tumultuous waters of the Fontana di Trevi. She invites Marcello Mastroianni to join her. The Italian paparazzo removes his shoes and, as an hypnotised puppet amazed by such daring attitude, joins Silvia in the sacred Roman fountain.
The scene is cult.
Audacious and provocative in a city where local aristocracy and the Holy See still had a firm hand on local cultural affairs in the 60s, this is the absolute expression of Mastroianni’s natural elegance.
He only wears a basic black suit, white shirt and thin black tie and yet, he’s Italian nonchalance personified, effortlessly measuring up to the gorgeous Anita Ekberg in her sophisticated black evening gown, golden hair floating in the Roman night.
A turning point in his career, this role will bring him international fame as one of the greatest actor of his generation but also as the typical Mediterranean playboy full of charming manners and seductive attitude - a cliché he would reject all his life.
However cliché that it may be, Marcello Mastroianni perfectly embodies this Italian sartorial tradition made from effortless elegance from black tie events to informal boat rides or lazy afternoons in the Roman countryside.
His clothes are rather basic, far from the flamboyant extravagance of some of his fellow Italians. He hardly wears colors, sometimes bringing a little texture to his attire through denim or a checked jacket but most of the time sticking to plain blacks and various shades of white.
Now and then, a light neck scarf brings an effortless touch to a suit or an elegant vibe to a beach outfit.
Beyond the formal aspect of what he is wearing, his elegance is all about attitude. The way he holds his hands, his deep, smooth and welcoming eye or the way he moves, everything about him speaks understated nonchalance, calm confidence and deep self-consciousness.
That's what allowed him to achieve absolute flamboyance through the most basic pieces of the man wardrobe, magnifying the rather uptight double-breasted jacket with a relaxed touch at the end of the 60s, pairing formal suits with sporty polo shirts and wearing loafers with tuxedos.
Mastroianni’s effortless elegance is the perfect balance between formal and informal.
In other words, style in its deepest essence, iconic and timeless.