Today in Westminster is cold, grey and wet; welcome back to London the weather says to me. And yet on Monday I was sauntering down the Via Camarelle on the beautiful island of Capri, rejoicing in the warmth and the beautiful blue sky of a southern Italian afternoon.
And what did I wear? Colours. All the shades of the rainbow I could dare to don. Here in London, under a leaden sky, the bright azures, salmon pinks, Ferrari reds and canary yellows just seem out of place. But on Capri, colour cocktails are the all-day uniform of the Caprese jet-setters. To wear greys and blacks without a significant dash of colour seems like a sin, and it is the one place one feels totally comfortable in wearing fruit-coloured jumpers draped over one’s shoulders. My bright blue Tod’s driving shoes, which normally attract stares of consternation or ridicule, were virtually unnoticed. Such is the wealth of colour and style on an evening in Capri that one need never feel that one is dressed in anything considered ‘too bright’.
There is a marvellous shop called Russo Uomo on Capri, near to the famous Quisisana hotel, selling some of the best menswear money can buy. A browse through the offerings which include Ralph Lauren polo shirts in the most unusual of colours, beautiful linen trousers from Italian manufacturers in such unusual colours as honeydew yellow and papal purple. Cashmere jumpers spill from the shelves in pinks, oranges, cool blues and fresh greens. It’s a breathtaking assortment of luxurious comfortable fabrics, brilliant colours and classic shapes. The staff are very knowledgeable and friendly, and the prices are not extreme.
The buyer for the shop has handpicked the items based on colour and style. Brands do come into it, but a lot of it is to do with selling the image of Capri; that of colourful luxury. Consequently, despite the presence of such prestigious names as Louis Vuitton, Dolce & Gabbana, Prada and Gucci, Russo Uomo is one of the most interesting shops on the island.
It’s difficult to tell whether the Caprese people shop there; in the evening, one never knows who is an islander and who is an Italian tourist from the mainland. They are similarly dressed in brightly coloured chinos and linen trousers, driving shoes, bright striped shirts and jumpers tied around their shoulders. This is why I believe a shop like Russo Uomo is not leading but rather following the style of Capri, and remaining faithful to it. It brings names like Ralph Lauren, Vilbrequin (which are worn by everyone it seems) and Creed to the island that has known true style for so long.
What I love about Capri is that you can never feel too daring in a particular colour of sartorial choice; so many men old and young are willing to take risks with the rainbow of colours in clothing that you are reminded when you return home that though the sky may be like sheet metal, one should be able to dress as if one has the vitality and the colours of Capri with them all year round.