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Style Wars: European Cup Finals Edition

by Hollie Moat
Italy’s shock win over Germany last night, in what was one of the more entertaining matches of the Euros tournament, means that it’s the Azzuri who will be facing Spain (who beat Portugal on Wednesday to qualify) in the final on Sunday. Spain, as the current world champions have what is considered the stronger team (with a Barcelona and Real Madrid heavy squad), but Italy is not without it stars (Pirlo is a tough talent to beat). But if they were competing based on their fashion credentials, who would win? We investigate…



Guccio Gucci and Gucci S/S 12

In this field, with Italy, it’s hard to know where to begin, given that they have at enough iconic designers to fill an entire football squad, let alone team. So let’s start with one of the most typically Italian and dramatic – Gucci. Founded by Guccio Gucci and his three sons in 1920 it went from humble beginnings as a classic leather goods shop, to the world’s biggest luxury brand via family feuds and murder mysteries and a star-making turn from Tom Ford, who established the label’s unapologetically sexy aesthetic. It’s currently in the safe creative hands of glamorous Italian designer Frida Giannini.

Miuccia Prada and Prada S/S 12

Equally slick and Italian, but in a more cerebral, intellectual way  is the label re-invented by Miuccia Prada, who took the reins of the luggage company started by her grandfather in 1913 and turned it into a fashion power-house at the cutting edge. Her first design hit was a range of black nylon backpacks in 1979 and since then has gone on to show collection after collection with chic, architectural properties and eccentric details, such as robot motifs, clear plastic panelling and retro Americana prints.

Stefano Gabbana, Domenico Dolce and Dolce & Gabbana S/S 12

And lest not forget design duo Domenico Dolce and Stefano Gabbana, who use their homeland as a fertile inspiration ground for their sensual, exotic collections, which often celebrate the voluptuous curves of passionate Italian women and make the most of the country’s delicate lace and colourful prints. In last week’s Dolce & Gabbana menswear show the pair even used real Sicilian men as their models.

This list could go on for some time, but let’s condense it down to some of the other big fashion hitters on team Italy – Marni, Valentino, Armani, Emilio Pucci, Roberto Cavalli, Fendi and Versace.


Sophia Loren

When it comes to all-out glamour, it’s hard to out-do Sophia Loren. A screen legend, Loren was best known for her feline looks and curvaceous sex appeal, but she was actually an acclaimed actress too – picking up an Oscar for her role in 1961’s Two Women. Rome-born Loren, with her tight, form-fitting dresses, big hair and eyeliner flicks was a blue print for a bombshell, a style picked up by modern stars like Eva Mendes, Scarlett Johansson, and fellow Italian Monica Bellucci.

Anna Piaggi

At the other end of the scale is Anna Piaggi – fashion darling and style enigma, still going strong at Vogue Italia at the grand old age of 81 and always a target for street style photographers. Writer and editor Piaggi spent the Seventies partying on the arm of Karl Largerfeld and has kept true to her own sartorial rules her whole life, basically she never met a rainbow coloured fur, mad hat, piece of macramé or enormous cape she didn’t like and if she wants to wear them all at the same time she will because she’s Anna Piaggi.


Caterina Ravaglia, Mariacarla Boscono and Eva Riccobono

As you’d expect from such as fashion-obsessed country, Italy have managed to pull together a very decent model pack over the years, with the current lot being led by Roman born Mariacarla Boscono, muse to Givency’s Riccardo Tisci, and former face of Pucci, Moschino, John Galliano and Hermés. Following her are Eva Riccobono, a Vogue Italia and Elle cover-girl who has been shot by Testino, and 17 year old Caterina Ravaglia who has walked for Prada, Yves Saint Laurent and Dolce & Gabbana.  



The designer Cristóbal Balenciaga and one of his classic designs on show at New York's Met Museum

The Spanish get off to a phenomenally strong start by counting one of the greatest couturiers of all time amongst their number. Cristóbal Balenciaga was born in Guetaria in 1895 and went on to become renowned for his mastery with cut, and for creating directional yet elegant silhouettes. The eponymous fashion house he founded remains one of the industry’s most important.

The Loewe S/S 12 campaign

The country’s subsequent major designers have been fewer in number, and none have quite reached the heights of Balenciaga, but still Spain have produced several big names in style. In the leather goods market they have Loewe, which was founded by Enrique Loewe in Madrid in 1846. In a similar story to that of Louis Vuitton and Hermés, Loewe used supple, high quality leather to make luxurious bags that over time evolved into objects of desire for the fashion crowd. In 1997 they capitalised on this new status by drafting in Narcisco Rodriguez to design a clothing collection. Stuart Vevers is currently at the creative helm.

Classic 1960's Paco Rabanne designs

In terms of impact designers, Spain have a strong contender in Paco Rabanne, who burst onto the scene in the Sixties with his metal disc dresses and wire panelling – unlike anything anyone had seen before. Inspired by his architectural training and the global obsession at the time with rockets and the moon, his fantastical space-age designs are among the most recognisable of that era.


The Duchess of Alba

With far too many names to list here, let’s just simply say that The Duchess of Alba is Spanish aristocracy of the highest level. When she married in 1947, the New York Times dubbed it ‘the most expensive wedding of all time’, but it’s only now, at the grand age of 86 she has started appearing on best-dressed lists, with her candy floss hair and mix of jeans and couture and controversial marriage to a PR exec some three decades her junior which has outraged her children and the Spanish royals.

Paloma Picasso

The daughter of the famous Spanish painter Paolo Picasso and writer François Gilot, Paloma Picasso was one of the Seventies’ most prominent style icons, a party girl about town, and close friend to Yves Saint Laurent, who helped her start her own jewellery line. The bold, colourful pieces were so popular that Tiffany’s commissioned her to create a range, but what she is most recognised for is her glamorous attire and complete devotion to red lipstick.


Andres Velencosco and Esther Canadas

Andres Velencosco, aka Mr Kylie Minogue, is one of the world’s most successful male models, with Chanel Allure and Louis Vuitton (with J.Lo no less) campaigns under his belt, but on the female side of things Spain just can’t compete with supermodel heavy Eastern Europe. Their most famous runway export was probably Esther Canadas, who at the turn of the Millenium was ubiquitous, walking for the likes of Gucci, Chanel, Givenchy, Calvin Klein and Yves Saint Laurent, and appearing in films like The Thomas Crown Affair.


Spain put in a valiant effort which was bolstered greatly by the inclusion of design hero Balenciaga. But they should take comfort from the fact that they remain the bookies favourite to lift the football trophy on Sunday because when it comes to fashion Italy made the win quite comfortably. Not only does is it home to one of the industry’s key four cities, Milan, but several of the biggest names in style call it home. Names like Gucci, Prada and Armani are just too weighty to beat, even with the inclusion of models and style icons (thought its unlikely many could topple Anna Piaggi in that arena). Well done Italy!
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