In my younger and more vulnerable years my father gave me some advice I’ve been turning over in my mind ever since…”, The Great Gatsby’s incipit helps me to present him, Angelo Flaccavento: journalist, author, style icon (but woe to tell!). An art historian with a passion for fashion, Angelo seems just jumped out from one of Fitzgerald’s novels… He is cultured, shrewd, ironic. His paradoxically classic look made him one of the most photographed men in recent years. His writing is at once courtly and simple, pulsating like a Canova’s sculpture. He loves printed paper but plays with the web, Angelo. Note a margine – GQ’s blog-not blog – has become synonymous with contemporary relativism, a tool to express a point of view while hugging the right to be contradictory because, you know, in your life you could also change your mind…


Fucking Young – Dear Angelo, I welcome you … You once mentioned a Closed spot of the 80s – directed by Jean Luc Godard – who sounded more or less like this: “From all eternity fashion fight against eternity”… Is therefore this short sentence , whispered by a female voice-over, to keep the principle, the essence, the very nature of fashion?

Angelo Flaccavento – It captures the most obvious trait of it. Fashion is constantly changing, sometimes cursed (positively). Giacomo Leopardi had already caught the essence in his Operetta Morale, Dialogo della moda e della morte… Fashion is an end to itself renewal and the spot by Godard gives the idea. It is rough, abrasive, of great impact.


FY – Fashion is change. What has been its evolution over the years? What is fashion today and what’s the difference with respect to two years ago?

AF – I do not regret the good old days… Of course, over the past thirty years, the fashion industry has lost some of its magic, its charm. That of fashion blossoms as an inner circle’s culture. In 1860, with Worth, Paris becomes its fulcrum. The Haute Couture was born, that is garments produced for a limited number of clients who had money to spend. It is, in short, a dialogue at the top of the social ladder. Things start to change after World War II. In the 70s the women’s ready-to-wear phenomenon booms but it maintains a very high standard quality. One for all, Walter Albini: a man who is elegant, sophisticated, intelligent as one of the Scott Fitzgerald’s characters. In the 80s the fashion system opens its doors to the company. The designers become superstars but with a still pioneering mood. In the 90s, with the arrival of the Bocconians (I refer to those who come, in general, from the business schools), the real change happens. At the top of the fashion houses there are now managers with the ultimate aim to market the product. The web bombards us with its images for months, and when an item of clothing arrives in store it has already lost its appeal. The fast-wear, which elaborates clothes created by others, does not help but, you know, parasites have always existed in nature. The buyer is often confused… Today we have lost the magic of purchase. In ’78 my aunt opened a boutique in Ragusa provided with the major brands. I remember in the parades, in the shots there was always an element of surprise. In the 80s the designers really dictated the rules, each with their own individuality: Krizia, Versace, Ferré.
From now on, I do not know what will happen. It will be necessary to eliminate the time lag between fashion on the catwalk and fashion in store. The world today wants, demands speed but fashion will be able to surprise us, she breaks the rules and that’s why I like it.


FY – What is instead elegance, man’s elegance, according to Angelo Flaccavento?

AF – I do not think style is very popular today. I cannot provide one single definition. Do not confuse elegance with the formalities. It depends on a person’s way of being, not just on clothes. It depends on the way to present yourself, to eat, to write, to talk to. Elegance is whispered and never shouted. There is no point dressing like a parrot…


FY – You are a journalist who deals with fashion or, more generally, with what are the current trend: from art to design… It’s often you yourself to track down, to launch, to “nurture”. What are the right requirements to take up such a profession?

AF – I am an art historian who since childhood has nurtured a great interest in fashion. Fashion is aesthetic language of expression. Fashion reflects social changes, anticipates them. One example is the concept of androgyny which Jean Paul Gaultier was an advocate and leader of in the 80s. Those who do this job should have curiosity, lack of prejudice and for prejudice I mean a beforehand formed judgment. I myself struggle with my prejudices. Project should be evaluated with less dogmatism. Let’s take the case of Kenzo. To Humberto Leon and Carol Lim is given the credit to have made the product more attractive to the public, especially to the very young people’s growing market share. Your personal preferences and tastes must remain personal. I love, for example, the extreme-design fashion as that of Comme des Garçons by Rei Kawakubo but it is just my opinion. Going back to us… Those who do this job should also know about the history of fashion, and even more. They should read a lot and not only magazines. They should have the ability to get surprised, to get carried away by the events’ unpredictability. They should never be superficial.


FY – Daily News Paper. Sole 24 Ore. Moda 24. GQ. Uomo Vogue. Hunter and Dapper Dan. Lots of important collaborations. You can move with ease from print to web-writing. What kind of writing do you feel most attached to, and which are the aspects of your job that you prefer?

AF – I am a Gemini. I love to write and I love to confront with different realities. I find it thrilling the idea to compare with ​more things and I am excited to speak to a heterogeneous audience. For example, when I write for Moda 24 I am aware of addressing to professionals (from lawyers to the managers) rather than to “insiders”. In this case, I’m interested in making them understand what really is behind the frivolity of fashion. In GQ it came out, although not consciously, what is my language. Someone said it reflects the way I dress. It’s like mixing courtly and street language. It is nothing but my style that I then key to Vogue, Il Sole 24 Ore, the Daily, etc.
That said, the aspect of my profession I appreciate most is not so much the creative process of writing but the editional one. I like to reduce the article, to soften it so to make it enter in the space assigned to me. As you know, in a daily newspaper these rules are more rigid while in a monthly there is a larger flexibility.


FY – Note a margine is a semi-serious blog, a diary where marginal notes about snapshots that block the “hic et nunc” are offered: fashions, manners, lifestyles, everything , from food to furnishings to clothes… In a time when the controversy between journalists and bloggers dominates you have succeeded with wit to find a happy medium… As the saying goes… Two dogs strive for a bone and a third runs away with it… How did you succeed? Is it always possible to do that?

AF – I’ve never considered myself a blogger. I do not want to be polemic. The blog can be viewed as a liberating way, a concrete instrument of freedom unencumbered by editorial groups. The beauty of the blog would be that of being an out of line voice. Some, especially the first ones, are high quality blogs. One example is the IreneBrination by Anna Battista. Many, most, have made the blog project go flat. They became too much personal. They did a great job of self-promotion. Note a margine I have not worried about. It was the means to express a personal point of view. To mix high and low with wit, with an unusual style, mine. Just me in a million (this is the concept of relativism). Just a self-critical me. Just me, ready to turn my mind and hugging the right to be contradictory (even this is nice!).


FY – We have to deal with the new media. Communication in general, fashion communication in particular, has experienced a rapid evolution (or involution according to someone)… Who will be the journalist of the future?

AF – They will be able to extricate easily between web and print media. With a personal and critical point of view. Ready to get the changes not so much the runaway’s but rather the street’s ones. Young people who do not allow the system to enmesh them.


FY – Which tool, of course related to your job, might not you give up?

AF – The pen in my pocket. If I impress on paper what I see, the images remain engraved in my head. I love the pressure of the pen on the paper… Instead, with my computer and my iPad I tend to distract me, to be concentrated on the keyboard rather than on what I’m watching.


FY – Where do you usually find the inspiration to write your pieces?

AF – I always take notes. There is something that inspires me more than some others. It can be a show, a movie, people on the street. I live in Sicily (for my sanity), away from the fashion system. Whenever I come back to Milan, Paris, Florence I succeed in amazing me, getting the changes, finding new inspirations, new ideas.


FY – A provocation… In 2013 is fashion Made in Italy, Made in France, Made in China or, simply, Made in the World?

AF – I am sure that creativity is global. The new internet language allows you to sample everything and then to rework it. As to the Made in Italy, I still believe in it. I really believe. But I would be sorry if, in the name of profit, some traditions were let die, as it was the case in England, where productions are no more inside.


FY – Your unique mood, vaguely British, made you an undisputed style icon. In no time, you became a true phenomenon – perhaps the first – of street-style. In The Sartorialist, Scott Schuman set aside for you the place of honor many times… How do you feel in this unusual – all the more “contemporary” – role?

AF – Surprised. It happened by chance. I do not know if I was the first but certainly I was one of the first whom Scott has focused his attentions on. I always enjoyed listening to people outside the fashion system’s points of view… My friends, my family, my mother… Once I asked my accountant: ‹‹Can I deduct the cost of clothes?››.
Why do they photograph me? I do not know. It is a phenomenon that began with Bill Cunningham. He had fun to “record” what was happening on the street. Scott Schuman was among the first. His taste for man is very close to the Italian style. After Scott, there have been a number of followers.
I am convinced that through clothes a person must convey his personality, his uniqueness… What you are is what you do. I could define myself as nostalgic, tending to the military rigor and the pursuit of a personal perfection, similar to the mood of certain old movies like Il Grande Gatsby.
Dressing up as a “moron”, in my opinion, is to kill the style. Having style does not mean wearing items from the summer collections in December. There are fashion houses proposing that, they did it with me, but I have always politely refused. I need to get familiar with my clothes, to know them. Just recently I was made this observation by KW Moon: “You are always dressed the same yet always different”, I think it is so. I can have wider or shorter pants, colored gloves but my style is always that. This winter they were very struck by the red cap I was wearing during the fashion-week. A very simple hat, bought a morning after reviewing The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou.
I do not feel an icon at all. I take everything as a joke, a great game and being out of the “system” helps me.


FY – Let’s stay focused on the phenomenon linked to the street style and to lots of young people we often see outside the parades primped in a too often extreme way and always waiting for a snapshot that, in their opinion, will change their lives. How do you live this and what advice would you give these guys?

AF – I cannot judge, if it makes them feel good… It’s a big spree circus. At first it was even funny but then it started to be annoying. The same many photographers crowded there very often take pictures without asking permission. I repeat, if you do it for fun is one thing but to work you need solid basis, seriousness… Not just a roll of toilet paper on your head. Chiara Ferragni, who has turned his blog into a well-structured company, knows it well.


FY – Lately we are witnesses of a real generational change. They are young, very young, the designers who come to direct the most renowned Maisons… Alexander Wang, JW Anderson, etc… What is, in your opinion, the effective contribution of these new recruits to the fashion industry of today and tomorrow?

AF – Today it is necessary to deal with the consumers’ new tools and with this new vision of fashion, a digitized one. A fashion with the purpose to communicate, to market the product. Less convoluted and more direct. I remain, however, pro gut-driven rather than head-driven purchase. We have already spoken of Kenzo’s choices. Balenciaga’s ones leave me more perplexed. Alexander Wang undoubtedly has a more commercial logic. Nicolas Ghesquière was pure invention, selection of materials and lines but there was a very serious difficulty in selling his creations… A different speech should be made for Comme des Garçons that even if potentially cannot be regarded as strictly commercial has managed to carve its market niche.


FY – Let’s go back to your work. Presented at Pitti Immagine Uomo, Vestirsi da Uomo aims at creating a unique wardrobe consisting of must-have items for the modern man. The project is now in its third edition… Can you talk about it?

AF – I had the pleasure to take care of this third edition – which is the first, among other things, in collaboration with – by trying to give it a disposition different from the previous two. The challenge was to imagine a wardrobe not according to a curator’s logic but by having just the audience in mind, by thinking of the strangers’ ideal wardrobe. Not everyone has bought all the items but each one has been able to draw inspiration from them. Pitti introduced me to the list of brands on display to which I have added others. To associate the items with the brands was a mental ping pong. So I tried to create an essential wardrobe, with some must-have garments representing the contemporary excellence. Here is the blue raincoat by Mackintosh, the unlined coat by Lardini, the shoes by Grenson. A wardrobe without dogmatisms. I wanted to offer a point of view aimed at utility. The previous editions – for example the splendid Marc Ascoli’s in Villa Favard – show a more dreamlike side. I imagined a wardrobe in which to enter, and then going straight to the point. My mental journey I rather did with that small manual, Thinker Dreamer Consumer, that handbook I have written for all customers who will purchase from the space on dedicated to the project and that I wanted intentionally vague, abstract.


FY – What makes you choose an item rather than another? What is really cool today?

AF – I hate the word cool. I prefer the term ” janitor effect ” to cool. I do not buy a lot and usually mine is not love at first sight. I am attentive to finishes, fabrics, the feelings that the items send me to the touch, their naturalness. I do not like “packaged” clothes. I like the deconstructed jackets and I like to work on clothes, rearrange them. I always say that we could do shopping in our closets for years. Sometimes I open a chest in the attic and I fish out an item from many years ago to change it and make it current. I do not throw anything away. Mine is a never completely renovated wardrobe but one to which I add pieces, it grows organically…


FY – Your favourite stylist. Your favourite artist, Your favourite book.

AF – Surely the designer I appreciate most is Rei Kawakubo. I discovered her as a child and she still manages to surprise me. Comme des Garçons is the only brand whose showroom I attend to review in detail the clothes of the collection. I also owe a debt of gratitude to Roberto Capucci on whom I wrote my degree thesis. My favorite artist… Baroque sculpture and Canova because those seemingly delicate marbles actually tremble, you can feel life vibrating inside them. As my favourite book I told you Trilogia della città di K. by Kristof Agota.


FY – What and how will Angelo Flaccavento’s 2013 Man’s S/S be? And 2013-14 A/W instead? Your vision? Your must-have, your colors?

AF – Next summer total white. I am fascinated by it because it is fragile (if we think of how easy it can get stained) and fortifying at the same time. So yes… I will dress in white as I can. I’ve already bought, and rarely happens to me, the designer Koeun Park’s clothes (Forme D’expression brand) that do not have the form but the consistency of pajamas: light, soft. Mine will still be a formal look with a touch of personality. The collarless shirt, my great passion of the moment that brings us back to that military rigor we were talking about.
The next A/W still see far away, I cannot tell. I like lightweight coats and elongated rather than skimpy jackets. In general, however, I begin to think about it just when the season begins. In September, for example, I never thought of wearing a red cap… Packing is complicated for me. I have to bring everything. I’m not like some of my colleagues who already have a notebook with all the looks of the day. My choices are impromptu. I decide in the morning, maybe while having a shower. I also like the error element, without errors there is no progress.


FY – Usually, what is the thing that makes you excited during a parade… the thing that makes you jump and exclaim: “How wonderful!”? And conversely, the one that instead makes you want to scoot?

AF – I hate forcing, stretched ideas. It irritates me to see designers who want to pass of as original while they are not. Helmut Lang, he, for example, was an innovator of style. Those who came later were just speakers but in fashion both are useful. Creativity must be cannibalized. The Devil Wears Prada is a light film but the famous Miranda Priestly’s reflection on the cerulean sweater worn by the young and inexperienced Andy gives the idea… It excites me, on the contrary, to see that ideas are still there. This is the case, I could seem repetitive, of Comme des Garçons: the lines, the cuts and the proportions, the use of materials are always revolutionary, groundbreaking. You have to reward originality, always. Valentino presented an incredible Haute Couture line in Paris. Beautiful dresses, made with care, attention to detail… This is the fashion I love.


FY – How would you define your style?

AF – Paradoxically classic. I like to play with proportions while choosing absolutely classic clothing.


FY – Your motto/Future projects?

AF – Future projects? I can’t say… Probably to write a book of style, an abstract one with the same concept of the Thinker Dreamer Consumer manual. Something that lasts… As for the motto, it occurs to me this: “It’s not where you take things from – it’s where you take them to” by Jim Jarmusch.

Thank you so much!