THE ANCIENT PRE-CHRISTIAN WORLD
THAT HAS SURVIVED INTACT ON THE SURFACE
OF THE MODERN WORLD
Naples the passionate, inimitable, chaotic city, the seductress, the slacker, the monarchy, the citizens.
There is no single Naples and is almost impossible to describe it in a way that does not end up being biased or inadequate.
Naples is in its narrow streets, in the noble palazzi, in the gulf, in the tenements, in the luxury shops, in the artisan workshops, in its churches, its history, in its own style, in its personality and much more.
A city influenced by a sustained royal presence, by a succession of kings and courts that have left an indelible mark on the city: Normans, Swabians, Angevins, Aragonese, Spanish viceroys, Bourbons and Savoy dynasties. Naples is one of the few European cities whose historic centre is still inhabited as it once was. The belly of Naples is the beating heart of the city and embraces the gestures and knowledge of tradition, perpetuating the wonderful ability to transform the most simple and basic materials into fine art. Flour, water, yeast and salt; cloth, scissors, needle and thread, the ingredients change but the result is always sublime.
Naples was, and somehow continues to be, the capital of Italian elegance and, more and more, Made in Italy coincides with Made in Naples. Wearing tailored suits or going to the tailor in Naples was, and continues to be, an accustomed habit rather than an aristocratic prerogative. This is due to a tradition initiated in 1351 – with the establishment of the Confraternita dei Sartori in the church of Sant’Eligio al Mercato – and revitalised in 1800 when Naples was at the peak of its splendour, capital of the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies and landmark of style, on a par with London and Paris.
Naples was the favourite stop on the Grand Tour and welcomed young aristocrats, writers, poets and the European aristocratic elite. However, it was the big names and families of Neapolitan tailoring – De Nicola, Caggiula, Rubinacci, Attolini – who defined the standards of what is still recognised around the world as Neapolitan style and sophistication.
Until 1930 Neapolitan style coincided mainly with Anglo-Saxon taste but, in later years, in the hands of the Neapolitans, the rigor and inflexibility of British elegance began to loosen up, giving way to comfort.
The minimalist concept of Neapolitan tailoring eradicates anything that is superfluous and, instead, focuses on the most natural fit; the whole construction of the jacket is based on ease and fluidity. Thus, jacket shapes with shorter backs were created, "zompa arrèt", o enable the jacket to slide more easily onto the body and sleeves "a mappina"
without gathers in the armhole that enable ease of movement (especially important for a population who have the intrinsic need to gesticulate), also the neckline "a martiello" and the Neapolitan jacket shoulders without pads are just a few details that depict the Neapolitan style that is famous around the world.
Nowadays – despite infinite discrepancies, crises and problems – the creativity, craftsmanship and the innate elegance of Naples continue to be a model for others.
And despite those who try to unlawfully claim the Made in Naples label, tradition and history as their own or those who remain steadfast, grounded to their own past, trying to reap the glory, Naples manages to go beyond this and continues to astonish with its unique capacity for change and innovation, whilst always remaining loyal to itself.
In other words, Naples is probably no longer what it once was but Naples is always Naples.