Timeless Italian style

There’s some fashion trends come, go and maybe decades later are resurrected, others never go out of style. Classic, casual, elegant, chic and sporty, the timeless style of Capri has lived on beyond its heyday in the 1950s and 1960s to almost attain the status of a lifestyle. Even today, you can see pieces of Capri-inspired fashion in the collections of the world’s most famous designers.  I love how this iconic style lets me dream of leisurely days spent by the azure shores of the tranquil Italian island of Capri and warm nights under the stars with good friends. Everyone can recognize the signature items of Capri style, including the eponymous pants, but just how well do you know the story of this vintage fashion?

 

Capri

Capri

 

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Jackie O showing of classic Capri style while on vacation

 

Capri pants

Beyond Capri’s natural beauty and glamorous vacation life, hardly anyone realizes that the island has a long tradition of master tailoring. According to legend, the island’s namesake Capri pants were inspired by the pants of Italian fishermen. In 1948 the  the mid-calf length design, which allowed men to keep dry and have great freedom of movement when they worked in the sea,was given a graceful feminine interpretation by the fashion designer Sonja De Lennart.  While she wasn’t Italian, De Lennart loved vacationing on Capri and dedicated her collection to the island.

 

The French actress Bri

The French actress Bridget Bardot wearing capri pants on Capri

 

Capri pants were officially affirmed as a fashion masterpiece in the 1950s when they became extremely popular with the rich and famous tourists, including international celebrities, who vacationed on the Italian island. Glamorous women such as Bridget Bardot and Grace Kelly paired their Capri pants with chic flat leather sandals or classic ballet shoes, colorful headscarves or wide-brimmed straw hats and round sunglasses.

 

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Audrey Hepburn on vacation on Capri

 

Magazines and movies  such as Avventura a Capri (1958) made the beach style of Capri famous in Italy

Magazines and movies such as Avventura a Capri (1958) made the beach style of Capri famous in Italy

Emilio Pucci

The popularity of Capri pants and headscarves is also due in great part to Emilio Pucci who opened his first boutique on Capri in 1950. Pucci’s designs reflected Mediterranean colors, transforming them into a sophisticated kaleidoscope of color – lemon yellow, Emilio pink, lavender, Capri blue, tangerine orange and mint green – that quickly became the designer’s signature style.

 

Emilio Pucci and his wife on Capri in 1959

Emilio Pucci and his wife on Capri in 1959

 

A model shows of Emilio Pucci's 1954 collection

A model shows of Emilio Pucci’s 1954 collection

 

Jackie O

There is one legendary woman who epitomizes the timeless nature of Capri style: Jackie Onassis. Never a slavish follower of fashion, Jackie had her own style that was both classic and modern.  Casual and yet elegant, Jackie would stroll the island with her son in tow or next to friends such as the designer Valentino Garavani. Whether stopping in at small craft shops or picking out custom-made leather sandals at Canfora, Jackie always exuded an air of leisurely glamour that was immortalized in numerous photographs from the 1960s and 1970s. Thanks also to their attachment to the island, Capri became the destination for many tourists and celebrities, a chic place to spend the holidays.

 

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Jackie O on Capri

 

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Jackie and Valentino on Capri

 

Capri style today

Talking about Capri style makes me dream of spending my summer days on the island, strolling around in a pair of ballet flats, and rubbing shoulders with the glamorous stars of the 1960s.  Well, while I might never be able to ask Jackie where she bought her great sunglasses, I can still walk the same streets she enjoyed, all while shading myself from the summer rays with a vintage Pucci headscarf.

 

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