The Dandiest Shades
For those of you who don't read every magazine, Lapo Elkann is a young man (in lots of mags lately) who is often referred to as "the Fiat heir." Lapo was a golden child, born with a titanium spoon in his mouth, and he had a great career going with that famous company—with projects like reviving the Fiat 500 (in the manner of the Mini and Beetle) and creating cool Fiat brand merch—when he was interrupted by a severe attack of partying, and wound up in rehab mode.
Well, Lapo's back, and we ain't seen nothing yet. The man has big plans, and I have no doubt that he will realize them in a groovy and spectacular manner. The guy is brimming with energy and ideas and he projects a splendid vibe.
It is often pointed out that Lapo inherited some great clothes from his famously suave and sartorially splendid grandfather Gianni Agnelli, but that's not why Lapo is on the ballot for the International Best Dressed List. He's on there because he is very much like his grandfather in his sense of style, and probably in some other excellent ways as well. There aren't too many guys you can talk about tailoring with. I can talk about it with Lapo and our mutual pal Wayne Maser. Lapo is the guy who got Wayne to switch from Anderson & Sheppard of Savile Row to Caraceni of Rome. Now he's working on me.
I was up at Lapo's penthouse on the DMZ between Chinatown and Little Italy the other day, and he showed me a white suit with navy stripes from Caraceni with fantastic details. The button holes were very subtle, almost invisibly sewn with thread in the colors of the Italian flag. It sounds a little twee, but it totally worked, as did the belt in the back of the trousers. I'm ready for a visit to Caraceni myself. I'm thinking about Irish buttonholes. Substitute orange for red.
Anyway, I don't want to talk about Lapo's new company Italia Independent too soon, but my friend Andy Spade and I did get a preview of their new line of carbon fiber sunglasses. They are excellent. Like the rest of the products Lapo has planned these will be offered, with customization, through the Internet. I think Lapo really understands how boring the same old must-have "it" items have become, and that intelligent people want things that reflect their own personality and style and not the glory of some company with a ritzy logo. His amazing shades are just the tip of an iceberg of cool, conceptual products that will eventually roll out of the company. Check out their website. If you have a webcam, you can actually see yourself wearing the product.
Here's Andy Spade, CEO of Jack Spade, wearing eyewear from Italia Independent.
And yours truly:
Lapo is only 28, but I think he shows the potential to become a dandy for our age. He personifies what a dandy can be. A dandy in the true sense, like Beau Brummell or Oscar Wilde or John Wilmot, the Earl of Rochester, is a philosopher who uses style to express himself, to bring about political and social change. A dandy is not a fop, but an artist of living. Stay tuned to Italia Independent.