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In Italy, the Past Inspires the Future

November 2012

By Claudia Franco, Milan

Is the past the future? The Milanese are looking back, stylistically, while looking forward to the future. The meager economic situation, with its lack of job opportunities, suggests that the Italians must manage their vision of life in creative ways whenever possible. 

Driving a Fiat 500 with high-tech components is now considered chic. It also saves money, from the price of the car to a lower insurance premium. Vintage cars seem to multiply on the streets, and if you don't have your own garage you can rent one.

The mix of high and low-tech is also seen in art and music. Not only has the vintage mania brought a return to vinyl records, but many Italian movies are based on stories from the 70s.  And in Milan, punk is not only not dead—it’s very much still stylishly alive.

Started in the underground scene, recycling objects and ideas is today’s real creative source, as high-end luxury names and mass-market brands are both inspired by the past. The retro style, the beat style-- with colored geometric prints-- and the dandy style are again contemporary fashion trends.

The increase in popularity in biking in Milan is likewise a revolution of former cultural style and practice. Popular bike manufacturer Bottecchia created a new version of their retro La Graziella model, a folding city bike popular in Italy during the 60s. The style of the contemporary urban bikers is based on a mix of innovation and vintage design, and the French chain Decathlon, near Castello Sforzesco, is the eco-techno, low-price temple for urban sportswear.

But back to the underlying inspiration for the aesthetic nod to the past-- unemployment means leaner means for creative construction. Echoing that reality, United Colors of Benetton’s Unemployee of the Year contest (hosted in conjunction with Italian Rolling Stone) keeps the jobless hope alive. In the meanwhile, visionary writer Gianni Miraglia has many followers for his articles on his new, impulsive life on the road after a safe past with a regular daily job.

Fashion & Style

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