A brief history of the varsity jacket

A brief history of the varsity jacket

Andrea Tuzio · 1 year ago · Style

It is undeniable that if there is a garment that carries with it the entire American sports imaginary – and not only – this is undoubtedly the letterman jacket.
Yes, because originally, what we know as a varsity jacket, the wool jacket with leather sleeves and pockets to match, also had a large letter on the chest, hence “letterman jacket”.

Lately, the popularity of the varsity jacket has come back to prominence thanks to operations such as that of NIGO and his HUMANE MADE brand, giving his closest friends a pink varsity jacket with white sleeves with the words “I Know Nigo” on the back and the name of the recipient embroidered on the chest.

Worn by the likes of Elvis Presley, James Dean and Michael Jackson, a symbol of many subcultures over time, today the varsity jacket is back to being a must in the streetwear world and we decided to tell its story.

The first time a letterman jersey was ever worn was by the Harvard University baseball team in 1865. That first distinctive garment and that marked the appearance to a certain group was definitely different from what we know today: it consisted of a very heavy wool sweater and legend has it that it was the players themselves who decided to embroider in the center of their uniforms, a large “H”, thus giving life to everything. 

In the beginning, the uniform had an enormous value and was very prestigious as well as elitist, in fact, it was given to all the members of the team but only the most deserving could keep it, the others – those who sat on the bench for example and played little – had to return it at the end of the season.

In 1891 they began to wear black jerseys off the field, always distinguished by a large “H” embroidered on the chest. This move led to the creation of “Letterman” pullovers and cardigans that had the basic idea of showing pride in belonging to that particular university, something that still happens at all school levels in the United States.

In the early 1900s, the football team of the same university also began to wear their uniforms distinguished by a large embroidered “H”. Here, too, there was a rule that those who did not play had to return their jerseys, while those who were on the field and playing for the good name of the university against historic rivals Yale and Princeton could keep them. 

From then on, a real “regulated customization” of uniforms and jerseys began: other embroideries were adopted to establish the player’s rank – such as a star on the chest to identify the captain – or the result of the matches.  

In 1930 what we know today as the varsity jacket was born.
Athletes were demanding heavier clothing to combat the cold and leather sleeves and buttons were added to the wool jersey, with the letter moving to one side and the letterman jacket became a status item within universities.
Not everyone could have the letter, you had to earn it through performance on the field. Once you got it you could sew it onto the jacket, it was very serious.

This custom had by then taken hold in all Ivy League universities – a group of the 8 most prestigious private universities in the United States (Harvard, Yale, University of Pennsylvania, Princeton, Columbia, Brown, Dartmouth College and Cornell) – in high schools and all other colleges in America. It was during this period that the term “varsity jacket” was born and became popular, and all athletes at the various schools (college or high school that they were) wore one. 

It was in the ’80s that the popularity of the varsity jacket exploded definitively thanks to the attention it aroused in the professional franchises of American sports. The suppliers who produced the merchandising began to make a satin version of the varsity jacket in such a way as to contain costs and expand the catchment area. The Los Angeles Raiders in football, the New York Knicks and the Boston Celtics in basketball made their own versions of the varsity, achieving enormous success.

In this way, pop and mainstream culture became acquainted with the varsity jacket, and in 1983 the varsity jacket became a sought-after item: Michael Jackson wore a red and gold one with an “M” on the chest in the video for “Thriller”.

varsity jacket

Hip-hop artists such as Run-D.M.C. and N.W.A. often wore one, transforming it into one of the street items par excellence and making it independent from sports issues.

varsity jacket

The fashion and streetwear world that was emerging at the turn of the late ’80s and early ’90s did not miss the opportunity to “appropriate” that model of an extremely cool jacket.

varsity jacket

In 1987 Stüssy made varsity jackets using old production methods and traditional materials (wool and leather), the Homeboy Jacket and the 1989 One Love are just two examples of reinterpretations of an absolute icon that we are sure will never go out of fashion.

varsity jacket

Read also: The story of Willi Smith, the designer who invented streetwear

A brief history of the varsity jacket
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A brief history of the varsity jacket
A brief history of the varsity jacket
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“The Prince of Prints”, the story of Emilio Pucci

“The Prince of Prints”, the story of Emilio Pucci

Andrea Tuzio · 1 year ago · Style

If Made in Italy and Italian fashion in general have become a point of reference all over the world, part of the credit must be given to the “Prince of Prints”, Emilio Pucci.

A story of nobility, charm and refinement that began in 1914 in Naples where Emilio Pucci, Marquis of Barsento, was born into a family of Florentine nobility.
Designer, aviator, multi-decorated Italian politician, military ace and expert skier – to the point of being selected by the national Olympic skiing team and participating in the 1936 Winter Olympics, Emilio Pucci represents the Italian eclecticism of the beginning of the century that has distinguished the history of our country.

Because of his skiing ability, he won a scholarship to Reed College in Oregon for which he designed the uniform of the university’s ski team where, in 1937, he completed his master’s degree in social sciences.

Immediately after this experience he embarked on an old ship and went around the world, in defiance of the Italian military authorities who accused him of renunciation of military service.
Once resolved the quarrels with the justice, he became passionate about aviation and joined the Royal Air Force in 1938 for which he served from 1938 until 1943.

After the Second World War, he moved to Sestriere where he began working as a ski instructor, but soon left Piedmont to return to Florence. His predisposition for drawing and the sketches he made for the Reed College ski team, led him to take an important interest in the world of fashion, revealing almost immediately the incredible genius and infinite creativity that will distinguish the entire life of Emilio Pucci.

His career exploded almost by chance when, in December 1947, the well-known American fashion magazine Harper’s Bazaar published a shot of him by fashion photographer Toni Frissell, who immortalized him in the ski suit he designed for a friend of hers and distinguished by fluorescent colors, incredibly modern for the time.

The success was practically immediate and led him to create women’s clothing, opening his first boutique on the beautiful island of Capri in 1950.
He participated in the first fashion show ever organized on February 12, 1951 by Giovanni Battista Giorgini at Villa Torrigiani in Florence.

Prints with unique and original motifs and bright colors, optical patterns, bold colors, fabrics of the highest level, as soft as organza, silk and gabardine, were from the beginning the peculiarities of Pucci’s work.
Jacqueline Kennedy, Elizabeth Taylor and Marilyn Monroe were in love with Emilio Pucci’s different and innovative aesthetics – Monroe was even buried wearing a dress signed by the Florentine designer.

The headquarters of the maison that bears his name is still the old family palace in Via de’ Pucci, symbol of refinement and aesthetic sense.
Emilio Pucci defined the aesthetic canons of his maison and became an absolute reference point of international fashion until 1992, the year in which he disappeared and the management of the maison was entrusted to his daughter Laudomia.

In 2000 came the acquisition by the LVMH group which triggered a series of changes of creative directors who over the years have tried to re-interpret Pucci’s original vision by contextualizing it from a temporal point of view without ever forgetting the starting point: from Stephan Janson to Christian Lacroix, from Matthew Williams to Massimo Giorgetti up to seasonal guest designers such as Christelle Kocher.

Emilio Pucci was a giant of Italian fashion, a forerunner of the times that laid the foundation for what we now know as sportswear, nothing to add but THANK YOU!

“The Prince of Prints”, the story of Emilio Pucci
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“The Prince of Prints”, the story of Emilio Pucci
“The Prince of Prints”, the story of Emilio Pucci
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Romeo + Juliet by Baz Luhrmann, style as a narrative device

Romeo + Juliet by Baz Luhrmann, style as a narrative device

Andrea Tuzio · 1 year ago · Style

147 million dollars grossed, Garbage and Radiohead as the soundtrack, Leonardo di Caprio as Romeo, outfits signed by D&G (Dolce & Gabbana line now set aside) and Prada suits, Hawaiian shirt, pink hair, Shakespearean language, weapons and feuds between gangs/families. 
Baz Luhrmann’s 1996 Romeo + Juliet’s colorful contemporary retelling – immersed in a world inspired by folkloric, religious imagery and overflowing with pop culture – of William Shakespeare’s immortal masterpiece Romeo and Juliet.

This context “provided production designer Catherine Martin – Oscar for Best Production Design – and stylist Kym Barrett with an incredible amount of aesthetics to refer to, while always remaining anchored in Shakespeare’s words”.

Everything is set in a fictional Verona Beach – a mix between Venice Beach, Miami and Mexico City – out of time in a constant succession of cultural references of all kinds.

We all know the story of Shakespeare’s tragedy: two noble families of Verona in conflict for generations, the Montagues and the Capulets, and that “from the fatal loins of two enemies descends a pair of lovers, born under a bad star, whose tragic suicide will end the conflict”.

In Lurhmann’s adaptation, one of the most important things to bring out was to clearly differentiate the two rival families at the center of the story. Kym Barrett characterized Romeo’s Montagues through bright and strong colors, Hawaiian shirts, dyed hair, workpant cargo pants paired with Chuck Taylors or amphibians. 

The young Capulets are instead represented by real D&G uniforms: simple silhouettes, black pants, shirts and bulletproof vests/jackets both in leather and red satin, prints and decorations embellishing the gun holsters. They are all extremely well-groomed and haughty, rejecting the 60s/70s Yves Saint Laurent-style tailoring of their older relatives, an aesthetic ploy to underline the contrast and the generational split within the Capulet family itself. Juliet herself, played by Claire Danes, “dissociates” herself from her relatives by wearing softer colors and softer fabrics.

Leonardo Di Caprio’s Romeo is different from everything and everyone, for him as well as for Juliet, Barrett chose something that was “as simple as possible, clean lines and no decoration” as for the dress worn by Romeo to celebrate the secret wedding of the two lovers, a beautiful blue Prada suit, cotton shirt, and a tie with a floral pattern.

The combination of all these aesthetic features, studied in detail by Kym Barrett, and everything we described to you at the beginning of this article, made this unforgettable film one of a kind and absolutely unrepeatable.

Romeo + Juliet by Baz Luhrmann, style as a narrative device
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Romeo + Juliet by Baz Luhrmann, style as a narrative device
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The style of Johnny Depp, a contemporary pirate

The style of Johnny Depp, a contemporary pirate

Andrea Tuzio · 1 year ago · Style

Unless you have been on the International Space Station for the past month and have just returned to Earth, I imagine you are aware of the trial of the year-at least in terms of relevance and media attention-the one involving ex-spouses Johnny Depp and Amber Heard.
We won’t go into the specifics of the trial quarrels here, partly because you only have to scroll through any of your feeds to get as much info as possible, I’ll just tell you that final arguments are scheduled for today, so we’re in the home stretch.

I have never been attracted to the morbidity that is unleashed around certain issues but I chose to take my cue from the story of the moment and try to tell the evolution of the unique and timeless style of one of the most eclectic actors in Hollywood show biz, John Christopher Depp II.

Ever since his big-screen debut, which took place almost as a joke and to support himself in his career as a musician, in the first episode of the cult horror saga dedicated to Freddy Krueger and created by Wes Craven, Nightmare on Elm Street, Johnny established himself to the general public as a handsome, charismatic actor and potential teen idol. This status was later solidified through his role in Oliver Stone’s Platoon and especially in the TV series 21 Jump Street.

The rebellious boy aura acquired in 21 Jump Street was further fueled by his off-set lifestyle and consummate rocker aesthetic that “cost” him his bad boy reputation.

Charismatic, eccentric, eclectic, versatile, shameless, over the years Johnny Depp has set a standard of style that is inimitable (partly because he is the only one who can afford to be Johnny Depp) linked inextricably to music and precisely to rock – he started out as a musician and continues to play guitar in the Hollywood Vampires – building a style that fully reflected that mood: long, shaggy hair, tattoos, leather jackets, ripped jeans, boots, vintage items, worn-out T-shirts etc.

Charismatic, eccentric, eclectic, versatile, shameless, over the years Johnny Depp has set a standard of style that is inimitable (partly because he is the only one who can afford to be Johnny Depp) linked inextricably to music and precisely to rock – he started out as a musician and continues to play guitar in the Hollywood Vampires – building a style that fully reflected that mood: long, shaggy hair, tattoos, leather jackets, ripped jeans, boots, vintage items, worn-out T-shirts etc.

A contemporary pirate who also delineated his style through his experience as the protagonist of the saga Pirates of the Caribbean as Jack Sparrow, his alter-ego on the big screen, and a character almost completely inspired by the legendary guitarist and founder of the Rolling Stones, who became his friend and mentor. 

Depp has consistently ignored the fashions of the moment, expressing himself and preserving his eclectic and distinctive aesthetic throughout the years. He has never enlisted the help or advice of stylists and is always conscious of what he expresses through his extremely divisive looks, just as the person is.

There is only one unique and inimitable Johnny Depp.

The style of Johnny Depp, a contemporary pirate
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The style of Johnny Depp, a contemporary pirate
The style of Johnny Depp, a contemporary pirate
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The “shocking life” of Elsa Schiaparelli

The “shocking life” of Elsa Schiaparelli

Andrea Tuzio · 1 year ago · Style

It is news of a couple of days ago that, starting from July 6, 2022, at the Musée des Arts Décoratifs in Paris will open its doors a brand new exhibition dedicated to Elsa Schiaparelli who, along with Coco Chanel, is considered as one of the most important and decisive figures of fashion in the period between the two world wars. 
Shocking Chic: Les mondes surréalistes d’Elsa Schiaparelli, this is the title of this retrospective on the designer – of which you can buy tickets here – costume designer and dressmaker Italian naturalized French, which will be open until January 22 next year.

I take advantage of this interesting and wonderful initiative to tell the life, history and career of one of the most influential women in fashion history.

“Designing clothes, let it be said in passing, is not a profession but an art. It is one of the most difficult and disappointing arts because as soon as the dress is born, it already belongs to the past. A dress does not remain attached to the wall like a painting, nor does it lead the long intact and preserved existence of a book”. 
The words pronounced by Elsa Schiaparelli to define her work is a perfect summation of her way of seeing fashion and the world. Art first of all, codified through her non-conformist and very original style, which began to manifest itself right from the start, but let’s start from the beginning. 

Elsa Luisa Maria Schiparelli was born in Rome, in Palazzo Corsini, on September 10, 1890 in a family of Piedmontese intellectuals: her mother, Giuseppa Maria de Dominicis, was of Neapolitan origin while her father, Celestino Schiaparelli, from Piedmont, was the first librarian of the Accademia dei Lince, one of the oldest scientific institutions in Europe. Not to consider his uncle Giovanni Schiaparelli, famous astronomer and his cousin Egyptologist and senator, Ernesto Schiaparelli.

When she was 6 years old, in order to answer to her mother who constantly told her how ugly she was, Elsa decided to cover her face with flowers, or at least that was her intention. She managed to get the gardener to give her some seeds and she put them in her mouth, in her ears, in her throat because she thought they would grow with the heat. Obviously this was not the case, he risked only to suffocate. 

She studied philosophy and dreamed of becoming a poet – she also published a collection of poems – but her family was against it and she was sent to a Swiss convent. The passion for philosophy, however, allowed her to meet in London, during a conference of the Theosophical Society where she traveled in 1913, Wilhel de Wendt, a count now fallen into disgrace passionate about philosophy. 

Radha aka “Gogo” in 1920 and where Elsa met the likes of Marcel Duchamp and Man Ray. The marriage ended in divorce in 1922, due to her husband’s constant cheating, and Elsa was left alone with Gogo. 

After returning to Europe and settling in Paris, she met stylist Paul Poiret by chance during a walk, and became his pupil almost immediately. It is the same Schiap, her nickname with which she was accustomed to refer to herself, to tell of the encounter that changed her life: “One day I accompanied a rich American friend to Paul Poiret’s small and colorful tailor shop. It was the first time I had ever entered a maison de couture. I wore a loose-fitting, soft-cut coat that could have been designed today. ‘Why don’t you take it Mademoiselle? It looks like it was made especially for you’. ‘I can’t afford it,’ I said, ‘it is certainly too expensive, and besides, when could I wear it?’ ‘Don’t worry about money,’ replied Poiret, ‘you can wear anything in any situation’”.

Her first works as a model designer were not very successful, the companies with which she worked did not want to deal with a beginner, but she decided that she would not give up and in 1927 she opened her studio in an apartment at 4 rue de la Paix in Paris.

His creations were incredible and crazy: His first sweater, completely black and with a large white trompe-l’oeil bow; the “chic melancholy of Italian softness” knit, so defined by Janet Flanner of the New Yorker; the themes of his garments such as pierced hearts, the typical tattoos of sailors were a first; the “X-ray pullovers”, so called because they traced the bones of the body; the “crazy hat”, a small knitted hat that could take any kind of shape; and his first iconic evening dresses.

Her popularity grew by leaps and bounds, so much so that on August 13, 1934, Time magazine put her on its cover – the first woman designer to receive this “honor”, describing her as “crazier and more original than most of her contemporaries, Schiaparelli is the one for whom the term ‘genius’ is most frequently used. Even to her closest friends, the lady remains an enigma”.

Come dicevo all’inizio l’arte ebbe sin da subito un ruolo fondamentale nell’atto creativo per Elsa As I said at the beginning, art had a fundamental role in the creative act for Elsa Schiaparelli from the very beginning and in fact, since 1935 she started to realize collaborations with Christian Bérard, Léonor Fini, Jean Cocteau, Salvador Dalí, Alberto Giacometti, Mere Oppenheim and Pablo Picasso

His presentations were not mere parades, but performances in their own right as in a kind of new theatrical form. The theme of mask and play were very present in his work of the time, experimentation of all kinds dominated his provocations. 

The invention of shocking pink came precisely from his ability to experiment. It was launched in 1937 and was used in many collections. 
In ’35 came the first accessory made together with Dalí and designed by him: a compact compact in the shape of a telephone dial on which you could “write your name”, a true work of art.

Elsa Schiaparelli was also the first designer to come up with themed collections such as: Papillon of 1937, Cirque of ’38 and Fall Pagan of 1938, inspired by Botticelli’s paintings. 

World War II led Schiaparelli to move to the United States, where her daughter Gogo lived, but she continued to keep her Parisian atelier open, relocated to 21 Palace Vendôme. 

The great success of Christian Dior and his New Look and the end of the Second World War, began the twilight of Elsa Schiaparelli’s incredible career. Traveling began to be an inescapable part of Elsa’s life: Rome, Hammamet, New York were fixed stops.

Despite the fact that Hubert de Givenchy had started to work in his atelier, the fame of the brand slowly faded, also due to the distance of Elsa, who had decided to spend her life between Tunisia and Paris, farther and farther away from the world of fashion. 

Elsa Luisa Maria Schiparelli died on November 13, 1973, at the age of 83, leaving an indissoluble legacy that has decisively inspired geniuses of the caliber of Yves Saint Laurent, John Galliano, Alexander McQueen, Miuccia Prada, Rei Kawakubo and so on and so forth.

Extravagant, eccentric, dreamer, artist, Elsa Schiaparelli was an atypical visionary and tremendously forward so as to make her work untouchable even to the passage of time, making her creations immortal. 

The “shocking life” of Elsa Schiaparelli
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The “shocking life” of Elsa Schiaparelli
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