FACES OF ELEGANCE
13 January 2022
What is elegance? Is it a decision? Simpleness, excellence, taste, bravery, a non-intrusiveness? Is elegance evident in behaviours, looks, and movements as well? If we genuinely wanted to define elegance, we could say that it is a luxury that is offered to everyone. Indeed, it is a luxury enjoyed by people who choose to treat themselves and others better through their approach towards behaviour and attire. Every stroll through the city, serves as further confirmation of this. The object of my fascination thus stands for the elder, those who, as they become older, have the desire to appear lively, charming, and well-groomed and, as a result, take care of their mental well-being. Therefore, this article is a love letter to them (but also to young people), who are elegantly charming and live in their own microcosm, cherishing simplicity and, of course, quality in a world that is torn between speed and the perpetual discovery of the new.
Tones of Milan, photography Scott Schuman (@thesartorialist)
The encyclopaedias interpretation of elegance would be that an elegant person is to be well-groomed, polished, and exhibit sophisticated behaviour and attire. This idea is important because the person who is truly elegant is the one who is precise in their relationships with others, precise in their choice of words, and balanced in their behaviour. Nevertheless, the encyclopaedia lists refinement, grace as the first characteristic of elegance, which obviously relates to the material quality that is instantly apparent. When I think of elegant people, I understand that these two components are necessary for elegance to exist. In other words, elegance is impossible without generosity. Furthermore, the legendary Gabrielle Coco Chanel, creator of the eponymous brand and a 20th-century fashion icon, once stated that elegance occurs when the inside is as beautiful as the outside.
Gabrielle Coco Chanel in Paris, via Pinterest
Her beliefs are supported by Giorgio Armani, who, of course, revolutionized the way we dress and think about clothing. “I cretini non sono mai eleganti”, the title of the book devoted to the designer, is a summary of writer Paola Pollo's observations on the fashion industry. As the creator of Italian style, Armani frequently discussed elegance. He holds the opinion that wearing "elegant" clothes does not necessarily imply being elegant. Rather, he separates elegance from clothing and classifies it with style; a style that a person creates through life, a style that represents everything that an individual thinks about.
Giorgio Armani in Milan in 1985, photography Tim Jenkins
via @giorgioarmani Instagram
However, discussing elegance without mentioning formal attire would be incomplete. It is most strongly associated with dressing formal, which is distinguished by clean lines, subtle patterns, high-quality materials, and the appearance of it being suited to the wearer. Long dresses, shirts, coats, and skirts come to mind when we think of formal clothing, since it exhibits neatness and subtle tonal matching. We see scenes from early 20th-century black-and-white films swirl before our eyes. But just as there are numerous trends now, there was undoubtedly a trend at the time-and it was formal attire.
Joaquín Sorolla via @2020davidmiro Instagram
Édouard Manet via @2020davidmiro Instagram
According to Chanel and Armani, elegance and self-discovery go hand in hand. They conclude that elegance is the denial of fashion. As a result, when I go back to the people I'm writing about, I see that their sophistication, uniformity, and elegance are the result of avoiding the modern traps that pose a threat to us every day. Trends are not the product of what others offer us; rather, they are the consequence of us–those of us who immerse themselves in others' minds in search of approval and support, which we occasionally locate in the wrong places. Elegant people don't let themselves go on such adventures, but create their own style.
Elegance is undoubtedly not immediately obvious. We don’t want to adhere to this unspoken rule of conduct. Because it doesn't follow the rules of the era in which it was established, elegance as a choice—a combination of suitable behaviour and clothing—is timeless. Many people believe that elegance is less prevalent than it once was. But it doesn't mean it can't be found now; let's recall the streets lit up by people who walk joyfully, who wear layers of clothing tastefully, and who are exactly who they want to be.