In my last post I got a little giddy over the colour combinations at Domenico Vacca. And with good reason. Whatever the value-for-money of his clothes, he is a master at combining the brights of menswear with background pieces that provide just enough support and just enough distraction.
Cesare Attolini deserves similar praise, though in his case the genius is combining autumnal and muted colours in a way that constantly rewards examination.
Patterns that complement each other add depth. Colours that complement each other add depth. Imagine the contrast with a simple navy suit, white shirt and grey tie. Elegant, certainly, but it bats off your attentions – it is a finely made background to the face but little more. It is the outfit to wear when you are on stage or when you are interviewing for a job; it is the outfit to wear when nothing should distract from you.
Those at Cesare Attolini, by contrast, suck you in. Is there green in that scarf as well as grey? How similar are the little touches of red to the silk handkerchief? The interaction of colour is fascinating.
These remarks refer to the first image above, on the left.
It’s a very brown outfit. Coat, tie and even (possibly) shirt stripes are brown. Much of the scarf is brown. But your eye goes straight to the red handkerchief, a deep russet that sits comfortably amid brown. Like a small fire in a forest at dusk. And the pattern, the visual interest, is here and in the scarf. We are looking at red and at grey/green against a background of brown.
Also notice how much more extravagant the outfit is with its outerwear: coat (with handkerchief) and scarf. The suit underneath is grey, plain and double-breasted. Coatless, it is sober and ready for business.
Outerwear is often an opportunity in this way, evidence being the gloves featured in recent posts.
Combination number two is more brown, if anything. Brown jumper, brown shirt, brown jacket. The scarf looks similar and provides visual focus, among its reds and mossy greens. But the two keys here are the pattern on the coat and the sea-blue handkerchief. Without pattern, the coat would be drab alongside other browns. With its Glen plaid, everything underneath is background.
And the blue/brown handkerchief is genius. Not an autumnal colour and not the first or second I would have thought of (those would be orange/red and green). But it works.
Green comes into the equation with combination number three. The dark colour, striped in the tie, goes well with brown and particularly against a blue shirt. That tie against white would be too stark.
I don’t know if I will ever end up owning anything by either Domenico Vacca or Cesare Attolini. But I feel indebted to them for inspiration.