My Style: Toni Rossi

Toni Rossi of Halston Naples

Photo: Courtesy of Toni Rossi

Are there any style combinations that you object to?

I hate all kinds of fusion, in my sartorial choices as well as in the culinary ones. A good shoe, or a good tie is always one that is not afraid of showing you its history — its legacy. Being modern is not about blending old words or making up new ones. Being modern is about knowing how to use old words to say new things.

Please describe your style in three words.

Cosmopolitan, ambitious, well-balanced.

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

Trying to say too many things at the same time. In order to be effective, one’s stylistic choices have to be simple and direct. Otherwise, if we try too hard, we end up giving into bad taste.

Do you believe in role models?

The art of dressing well is a language and, as such, travels around and makes encounters. We all use words that exist already. It’s the way in which we combine them to express our personality that makes this beautiful art such an interesting pursuit. At least in part, we are always looking at someone else for inspiration. The important thing is to never copy anybody or anything. We should always try to reinterpret and, to an extent, rewrite what we see around us.

What are your favourite fabrics?

On the one hand I am very fond of carded wools. They are so rich of light, and have an unmistakable metropolitan attitude. On the other, I would say carded cottons. Yes, those full-bodied fabrics that suggest adventure and independence.

Halston store in Italy

Which city has the best-dressed men?

I would say Milan for business-wear, then Naples when it comes to dressing for your leisure time, and certainly London for ceremonial attire.

Would you say that you are conservative or bold?

I am certainly a bold lad. For this reason, I am also very conservative.

What are the rules in the way you dress?

It took me fifteen years to learn the rules, and twenty to forget about them. The only rules that really matter are the ones that become part of ourselves, so much so that we no longer recognise them as such.

Celebrities and style...

Go hand in hand; because when someone is constantly under the spotlight, we can’t help noticing his style, since we all have one. Class is what really makes the difference. Class is a style that we all desire, unfortunately, celebrity status doesn’t buy it.

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

My army jacket. It reminds me that, even if I’m not fighting a war, there is always someone out there for whom you are a target. So it’s always best to be alert.

A man should always look like…

He’s self-assured, kind, with some small weaknesses: we are humans after all!

Who taught you what you know about style?

I have learnt the theory from my very dear friend Giancarlo Maresca. As for the practice, it comes from my city and my family, like for everybody else.

How do you select your clothing every morning?

That depends mainly on my mood. Then there’s what I have to do, the people I have to meet, the places I have to go and so forth.

Toni Rossi of Halston

What is your biggest regret?

When I was young, I spent one year in the States. I learnt a lot from that experience. I wish I had had the time to live in other countries, instead of visiting them in a rush.

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

We all have a certain style, and everything we do is a part of it. In order for it to become what we call ‘elegance’, there must be some spontaneity. That’s why the most important thing is to understand what we really like to do. The second most important thing is…to do what we like.

Do you have any shopping rituals?

No. It’s always best to drown without trying to swim.

We will never see you wearing...

The word “never” belongs to religion; it does not pertain to matters of taste, or, for that matter, politics. I will never wear something which is really wrong, like a pair of socks with too many stripes, or a shirt which could do with some extra ironing. Otherwise, what I don’t like today could be of my taste tomorrow.

The most stylish person you have ever seen...

I have met many elegant men. But really well dressed? Only a few. Among the ‘elegantly dressed’, I would certainly count Prince Charles and Giancarlo Maresca, as well as some other fellows, but they are not really known in the media, so I’d rather not mention them.

What is the first thing you notice on a man?

First impressions are really important — it's better to leave clothes out of them. As I have learnt from my profession, clothes are a very powerful and misleading mask. I’m more interested in how one moves around or looks at people. Then, and only then, I’ll listen to the story told by his clothes.

Halston boutique detail

Which new designers do you follow and why?

To be new and original doesn’t necessarily mean to be good. Ralph Lauren was someone who gave new meanings to contemporary style. Any great talents after him? I don’t know — probably Jeremy Hackett.

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

It’s certainly the shirt, but I won’t tell you why, you’ll have to find out.

What are the most treasured items in your wardrobe?

Once we buy something, we should forget about the price and treat all our belongings in the same way — with great care. True value is something that comes with time.

Is comfort an enemy of style?

Not at all. You can pursue beauty and make sure that it feels comfortable. Or pursue comfort and make sure it is beautiful.

Which fashion house never fails to impress you?

Pierre Cardin up to the 1960’s, Dunhill up to the 1970’s, Hermès till the 1990’s and Ralph Lauren and Chanel till today.

The best words of advice you have ever heard?

You should not just wear your garments, but live them with love. And I am always in love!

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