The Suits of Vittorio De Sica

I had originally intended to write about Marcello Mastroianni for today’s post, but I realized that with Mastroianni’s reputation already well established, my words wouldn’t really have been revolutionary to anyone.  Plus how many more times can we all look at stills from 8 1/2 before they lose their meaning entirely.  And then I remembered a photo that has been stuck in my head for a few months now.  The photo is a narrow shot that shows Vittorio De Sica, the Italian Neo-Realist film director, departing a plane at London Airport in 1955.  If the photo sounds simple it’s because it is, and aside from De Sica’s wind blown tie and smirk, it’s a relatively static image.  But what keeps me going back to the photo is De Sica’s attire.  His suit’s soft shoulder, wide lapels, and button stance are all simply perfect, making De Sica’s outfit arguably the quintessential example of Neapolitan tailoring.

Raised in Naples, as a kid De Sica worked his way through menial jobs to support his family, although he always had his sights set on acting.  In the late twenties De Sica began performing in comedies and building up a decent reputation in the Italian film world.  Yet, it was in the forties when he turned his focus toward directing that De Sica truly found his calling, becoming a crucial figure in the burgeoning Italian Neo-Realism scene.  Films such as The Bicycle Thieves (probably one of the greatest films ever made) and Umberto D. made De Sica legendary for his graphic portrayal of all aspects of Post War Italian life.

Throughout his life De Sica always remained an ardent follower of the Italian tailoring tradition, a subtle nod to his own Neapolitan background. Yet, De Sica did not work solely with tailors from Naples such as Rubinacci, (who created the suit in the photo above from London Airport,) but he also frequently wore suits from Caraceni in Rome, and ateliers throughout Florence.  Photos of De Sica’s suits and sportcoats are still referenced today as some of the finest examples of Italian tailoring.  The cut, details, patterns and overall look of De Sica’s wardrobe are what so many of us continue to strive for today in our own attire.  De Sica is proof that when it comes to the Italian cut, the past still prevails.

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