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Guest Post: Becoming Mr. Ripley, by Kevin Sciarra

This week I am beyond excited to be launching a new guest series which will be made of articles written by special collaborators for Maison Blaise. I am thrilled to start this series off by having my friend and menswear enthusiast Kevin Sciarra guest writing a special article sharing his insights on current trends. Find out more about him at the bottom of the page.

Not in the sociopathic-jealous-lover sense, as Matt Damon so chillingly embodies in his role in The Talented Mr. Ripley. Rather, some trends have been emerging in high fashion that draw on a mid-century aesthetic for inspiration, delivering the summer styles of post-war Positano to consumers globally.

Still from the movie "The Talented Mr. Ripley" (1999) directed by Anthony Minghella and starring Matt Damon, Jude Law & Gwyneth Paltrow.

Despite being a fan of thrillers and general Italophile, I watched Anthony Mighella’s 1999 classic for the first time just a few weeks ago. The importance of sartorial choices is obvious throughout the film, as they accentuate each character’s persona and help establish their respective roles. Tom, the Ivy League wannabe dressed in boxy earth tones in stark contrast to Dickie, the resort-casual jazz club rat. In Tom’s case they are also crucial for his development and eventual “transformation” into the former. Given the amount that has been written about this theme I’m certain that I have no new insight to offer; a more interesting trend is the collections today that are embracing mid-century styles just as costume designer Ann Roth did 20+ years ago.

These styles haven’t exactly made their way into the ultra-luxury fashion houses yet, and it’s not clear if they ever will. This season’s catalogues from Hermès, Cucinelli, and the like still favor simple colors, minimal patterns, and roomier cuts, as if they’re still trying to connect with the streetwear crowd. Sahara chic also seems to be in this season, as Loro Piana so luxuriously demonstrates.

Pictured above: Hermès (left) and Loro Piana (right) Spring Summer 2020 Collection

Rather it’s the younger brands who are looking further into the past; companies who are either still evolving, or went all-in on the niche to begin with.

It’s no surprise that European houses would lead the charge in this space. One offering that caught my eye was Orlebar Brown. Founded just in 2007, they’ve taken the throwback concept and presented it with an interesting twist. Their current release 007 Heritage Collection is based directly on classic Bond movies, emulating Sean Connery’s iconic looks. Resort casual staples such as the Dr. No terry polo and Thunderball swim shorts (a personal favorite; pictured below) bring lighthearted but reserved twist to this classic style. In doing so, Orlebar Brown has in some way bridged a cultural gap, applying some of James Bond’s stoic elements to a decidedly Italian wardrobe.

Pictured above: Orlebar Brown Summer 2020 Dr. No polo & Thunderball swim shorts

What did surprise me, however, was an even newer player in the upmarket fashion scene, originating thousands of miles from the storied European maisons. Frescobol Carioca, started by two friends from Rio de Janeiro in 2013, has been laser focused on the summer vibes since day one; their genesis wasn’t even clothing, but a paddle ball beach game. Their current lineup recalls similar mid-century themes with a distinctly Brazilian twist. They introduce the lifestyle as a draw and call back to their roots by still offering the original beach paddles; I’d guess that they barely even sell, but just having them on the site helps get the buyer in the right state of mind.

Pictured above: Frescobol Carioca Summer 2020 Collection

Attempting to tie in a social commentary or some grand cerebral theme seems like a stretch. It could be that consumers are leaning more heavily into throwback styles right now as we all collectively yearn for the past, for simpler times that most of us don’t even remember. But of course this summer’s lineups were cut and sewed well before the world changed so drastically earlier in the year. It’s more likely that certain newer fashion houses are working to establish their own trends. We can see them drawing on the past for inspiration as so many have done before, but using their own cultural X-factors to differentiate themselves and help frame the consumer’s mindset.

Written by Kevin Sciarra

Despite maintaining an extremely corporate career, Kevin has long been interested in fashion and the larger artistic world. His Italian heritage and family located throughout Europe have helped foster lifelong passions for travel, art, food, wine, and experiencing new cultures. When not stuck on Zoom meetings Kevin can probably be found on a golf course or a mountain - and not much else in between.

Instagram: @ksciarra

Email: ksciarra@gmail.com

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