Gabriele Pasini Asserts The Faults In Traditional Southern Italian Tailoring
Imperfection are natural.
BY Tan Guan Lin | Feb 6, 2017 | Fashion
“Have you watched The Great Beauty?” designer Gabriele Pasini asks. The 54-year-old Italian sits before me in a cream linen suit, his ginger beard incredibly arresting. “In Italy, we have so many beautiful towns, and our history is founded on beautiful things. Everything is beautiful—the sea, the food. I think we are educated from young to see the nice and the beautiful.” I ask him why Italian men dress the way they do-suited impeccably with a dash of nonchalance. He hums and explains that Italian debonair stems from the nation’s roots in all things art, architecture, film and music—that, as a young boy, he was baptised in Michelangelo, Giotto and Pavarotti.
Pasini’s artistic sensibilities manifested early. A young Pasini enrolled himself in one of the four Italian tailoring schools—the southernmethod of Naples and Sicily, the Roman, Florence and Milano. “I like and started with the Naples school. Right now, I still prefer its quality and form of jacket. It differs from the others!”
He is referring to the relatively warmer weather of the southern coastline. In the city of Naples and the island of Sicily, the climate has shaped the southern slang of a suit. The Neapolitan suit is distinguished by its relaxed, sloping shoulders, collapsed sleeve caps with small gathers called shirrings, breast pocket curved like the bottom of a boat, rounded hems and voluminous trousers.
“You know Modena?” he leans forward. “Yes, Bottura…” and before I can finish, Pasini throws his hands up in the air, crying, “Massimo, my friend!” And in that split second, I give thanks to the gods above for the Netflix series, Chef ’s Table. Three Michelin-starred chef Massimo Bottura was the subject of its first-ever episode. His restaurant Osteria Francescana and Pasini’s boutique are a seven-minute walk apart. “Maybe, in the future, he will wear my clothes,” Pasini continues on his unlikely friendship, “because we are talking about it—he does food, and I do fashion.” He stretches his hands out and clasps them together: “Food and fashion come together.” Fine dining and bespoke tailoring are banded by their all-consuming demand for the finest materials, while the aesthetics of plating is the overview of a collection.
His collections introduce a Southern Italian palate to his international following—Pasini’s suits are favoured in Japan and South Korea alike. The Neapolitan suit is a source of pride, and Pasini dissects its hallmark, the sleeve cap: “Neapolitans don’t use the rollino. We let it be natural and follow your [body] form, with no stress—we call it a shirt shoulder.” Rollino refers to a stiff, full and peaked sleeve cap—the conventional and Savile Row way of doing a suit jacket. The Neapolitans, however, remove the fullness and the severity of their sleeve caps—and tailor their jackets like shirts instead. Any excess fabric from the cap collapses into the shirrings, wave-like gathers that fall unevenly. Some even call it ugly.
“British tailoring is rollino—the perfect [way],” Pasini says, drawing a comparison. “But in Italy, we say that the jacket must have defects. Neapolitan tailors say that the perfect jacket must have imperfections.” He ponders the many incredulous looks around him before reasserting: “It’s true, and I agree—no perfect pleats, no perfect shoulders!” Just like a vintage suit, he adds. There can’t be a more befitting allegory to the landscape of Italian art—that the merit of art is found in the imperfection of human touch, as observed through the crevices of a flawless craft.