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02.03.2017 | fondazione zegna

Sanremo: when tailors trod the red carpet

The “Festival della Moda Maschile” (men’s fashion festival) and the revolution in Italian style

High quality fabrics and high class tailoring: in 1967 it wasn’t only the contestant singers that trod the red carpet at Sanremo. In the golden age of Claudio Villa and Iva Zanicchi, triumphant Festival winners 50 years ago, the “city of flowers” wasn’t only an important stage for Italian music but also a must for top-end tailors.

The first Men’s Fashion Festival was launched in 1952 by Michelangelo Testa, editor of “Arbiter”, a monthly magazine for refined male readers, and showcased Italian elegance for the whole world to see. 15 years on, the importance of this Festival was already consolidated and the first issue of another magazine, TOP, ran a long piece on the September shows in Sanremo featuring the innovation in men’s fashion seen on its catwalks. At the end of the Sixties something new was happening: men’s suits were emerging from exclusive tailoring ateliers to be shown under the spotlights and catch the eye of the general public, thus becoming a matter of day to day costume.

Imagination, fine taste and improved quality of life were what international fashion was talking about in 1967: the “war on grey”, won by the colors of Italian fabrics, and new lines inspired by fin de siècle elegance were the trends of the year. The waistcoat came back in vogue, jackets with narrow shoulders and a prominent waist became longer, while “separates” aimed to oust the DJ, especially for young men. Lightweight fabrics, lively patterns, bold or intricate checks reflecting the creativity of top tailors symbolized an elegance that was asserting itself on an increasingly international scale. The UK was trying to escape from the classic tradition through innovation; Austria, which took to Sanremo a number of models specially tailored for lovers of good beer and food and inspired by Italian colors; Germany, Switzerland, France and Spain looked to Italy to disrupt the canons of men’s fashion.

With the Festival di Sanremo Italian style was able to assert itself throughout Europe thanks to its two underlying strengths: high quality fabrics and high class tailoring. And up on the runway alongside the models were the tailors themselves: the best testimonials for their own creations. For focusing on tailors also meant focusing on detail, quality and authenticity: this was Sanremo’s great revolution.