My Style: Barnaba Fornasetti

Portrait of Barnaba Fornasetti

Portrait: Toni Meneguzzo

Which city has the best-dressed men?

It seems to me that Italy is the most elegant country in the world, but I cannot judge since I don’t travel all over the world that much. Having said that, I did notice a considerable decay going to London. It seems that elegance is becoming more and more a delimited niche.

Please describe your style in three words.

Unconventional, radical-chic, ironic.

What is the biggest mistake one can make when getting dressed?

To confuse extravagance with elegance.

Do you believe in role models?

I believe in expressing one’s taste only to realise that people like it.

What are your favourite fabrics?

I really like the wide corduroy that has been totally put aside by the world. Fortunately, it’s coming back — even though this is not enough for me as I believe it should be an everlasting classic. For example, I cannot find anymore the double cords with a wide and narrow wale, since the usual expiatory minimalists only produce a medium-narrow wale. For shirts, I go for classic fabrics with all-over prints which I can match with Fornasetti neckties with effervescent décors. For waistcoats, I love jacquard fabrics, particularly the ones in cashmere patterns. When it comes to overcoats, I really like bouclé, like the one that I have by Umit Benan.

Are there any style combinations that you object to?

I am not keen on technical garments that, using comfort as an excuse, put aside the aesthetic value of clothes. And don’t try to tell me that it’s a different aesthetic or a different way to interpret elegance. You can be casual and elegant at the same time.

Would you say that you are conservative or bold?

I like mixing different colours, different patterns. I hate following convention.

What are the rules in the way you dress?

I go for aesthetic satisfaction.

Celebrities and style...

Are two nasty clichés that I would prefer not to use.

Name one garment/accessory that you can never have enough of?

Neckties, I wear them even when I do some gardening or during a walk in the mountains. I obviously have a big collection of Fornasetti ties. However, my collection includes a lot more.

A man should always look like…

A man.

Who taught you what you know about style?

There are some things that I picked up from my father and the rest were self-taught.

How do you select your clothing every morning?

The first thing I do is match the colours of my outfit and then decide according to what I have to do during the day.

What is your biggest regret?

That I’ve never learnt to play an instrument.

The three essential things a man should know about style are…

Style is personal; fashion is imposed.

Do you have any shopping rituals?

I rely on coincidence, on occasions that happen. Truly, I don’t really need anything.

We will never see you wearing...

A classic blue manager dress shirt and sneakers.

The most stylish person you have ever seen...

I’m still waiting for him or her.

What is the first thing you notice on a man?

His face and then his shoes.

Which new designers do you follow and why?

Umit Benan, I share a common taste with him. I like his designs and the unique cuts of his clothes, as well as his approach to a contemporary re-invented classic style. I’m also deeply fascinated by his subtle Middle Eastern inspiration in his collections. I like to wear one of his wool bouclé coats during winter, and people regularly stop me, even in the middle of the street, to ask where I got it and who made it.

The only article of clothing that a man needs to pay close attention to is…

His shoes.

What are the most treasured items in your wardrobe?

My collection of waistcoats.

Is comfort an enemy of style?

Not necessarily. It could also be a friend.

Which fashion house never fails to impress you?

Comme des garçons. In fact, they are the only fashion house to which I’ve granted the use of some Fornasetti décors for a collection that is being available now.

Who would you like to recommend for My Style?

Sergio Calatroni.

The best words of advice you have ever heard?

I did not realise the exact meaning of my father’s advice when, during the student protests at the end of the ‘60s, told me “You get dressed as all the boys in your age do. You are a conformist”.

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