Just around the corner from my hotel in Venice was a shop whose windows were full of cashmere sweaters. Passing it as often as I did, it was inevitable that I’d succumb and go inside to buy one, but when I did I was surprised to find that instead of smart displays, the interior was full of clothes rails and resembled a dry cleaners more than a boutique!
The man running the show explained that he was a wholesaler rather than a retailer, and I was reminded of the League of Gentleman as he tried to explain himself in English. A local shop? For local people?
His enthusiasm got the better of him and he went on to show me every style of sweater available (several) in every colour (many), insisting that I tell him which colours I liked and didn’t. I started to get the feeling he was looking a wholesale order. As he did so there were a number of colours that would never make it to my wardrobe, bright yellows, oranges and pinks. I reminded him that I was English! His response was that because I was from the north I would prefer more sombre colours; as a Northern Italian, he was wearing navy and grey, but those from the south of the country, or Spain and Portugal, they would love the brighter options.
Perhaps he was right, but back out on the streets a couple of things became apparent; Italians love black. (I say Italians, but I have no idea of the nationality of most of those in the images below). The black quilted jacket or coat was virtually everywhere this winter.
Many others still chose darker options
Fur was a very popular choice too, far more so than in the UK. I don’t know if it was real or not, though I’m pretty sure that they last woman in this group wouldn’t have accepted anything man-made:
Incidentally the young man who begins that group was introduced to me as an up and coming footballer playing in Serie A. They picked the wrong guy to try and impress and his name, which meant nothing to me was swiftly forgotten. If you recognise him, let me know and I’ll caption his shot appropriately.
Only one question remained to be answered. It was December and the light was subdued and flattened by the mist and fog. Why then, do so many Italians still wear shades?