Italian Style 101
According to Italian-Australian fashion designer and businesswoman, Carla Zampatti, La bella figura (which literally means ‘the beautiful figure’) is an essential philosophy that rules the lives of gli Italiani, yet is a difficult concept for outsiders to comprehend.
La bella figura can mean many things, but at its core is presentation – how one looks, how one carries oneself, and how one makes the best possible impression in all things. It is no surprise that such a concept is hardwired into the Italian psyche: what else could be expected from a country that’s been creating beauty for centuries? Beauty is revered in Italy, whether expressed grandly through art and architecture, or more simply by the perfect cut of a suit.
La bella figura goes well beyond image, visual beauty and presentation – it also is defined by behavior: knowing how to properly and graciously interact with others in any social or public situation. Exhibiting good manners, tact and gentility is an essential component of ‘cutting a beautiful figure’.
Carla Zampatti should know, after all she has been given accolades for her contribution to La bella figura in both her birth country, receiving the Zampatti Commendatore (Commander) Order of Merit of the Italian Republic in 2004, and in her adopted homeland, being named Designer of the Year in 2004, anointed the Australian Fashion Laureate in 2008, and was more recently made a Companion of the Order of Australia.
The good news is that you don’t need to be in ‘the first flush of youth’ to cut a La bella figura – just look at the age-defying Monica Bellucci who, at 51, was cast as a ‘Bond’ girl in Spectre – the latest 007 offering. I’ve seen the movie and, personally, I think Monica’s role could have been ‘fleshed’ out and given more depth, but there’s no argument about her La bella figura!
Photo courtesy http://www.the007dossier.com
I recently purchased a pair of Dolce & Gabanna red velvet Mary-Janes, which I fell in love with at first sight, and was delighted to see Monica Bellucci also sporting the same sumptuous shoes on her feet.
Photo courtesy http://www.fashiongonerogue.com
The red shoes cannot be seen in this photo but they were Monica’s shoe of choice for this campaign.
It is important to remember that La bella figura is not all about fashion, it is also the effort that goes into giving a good impression – what Italians do to show that all is well in their world and that they are doing just fine – even if they are not! And that’s part of the secret of La Dolce Vita! (The Sweet Life).
I know, I know – Léa Seydoux is French (and privy to her own countrywomen’s beauty secrets), but you must agree that her Spectre character, Madeleine Swann, is a magnificent example of La bella figura too.
Bellissima sì! And bellisimo for James Bond (aka Daniel Craig) because great style has no gender barriers!
Photo courtesy wall.alphacoders.com
Italian life is undeniably lived with a constant eye toward aesthetic beauty, dignity and civility. Learning to enhance the body and mind one is born with is more important than having been endowed with genetic perfection.
Want to know more? I know I do and am going straight to the source to read:
- My Life, My Look – Carla Zampatti
- Carla Zampatti 50 Years of Fashion.