The signature of Luigi Albertelli signed more than 1000 songs, written for the greatest performers of Italian music. Amongst gold records, victories and successes at Sanremo Music Festival - and some of the most beautiful Japanese cartoons themes - Luigi Albertelli, 83-year-old, celebrates in these days 50 years of an unstoppable career. His songs survived every trend and succeeded to impose an enduring style, the one of things perfectly done, with elegance. About this indefinite concept, and fashion, we are talking today together with Luigi Albertelli.
Luigi, when was the first time the word “elegance” joined your vocabulary?
I belong to the age where parent’s garments were altered for the kids. It was 1948 and my first suit was made of vigogna. Originally it was my dad’s double-breasted suit: our tailor reduced it to a single-breasted because my father was twice as big as me. I was 14 year-old and already 6.25” tall. That one was my first suit with long pants, because before I was just wearing knickers, as they used to for boys in that period.
To me that was the entry into elegance, and I remember I was strutting around terribly with my schoolfriends, because so dressed up I really looked like a man, and back then we became virile soon. That suit marked my transition to virility.
Today’s fashion does meet your idea of elegance?
I love elegant fashion, also because it doesn’t fit many…me certainly.
I really like today’s fashion, especially I adore slim fit jeans, also because as former athlete I kept a pair of very toned legs. But I don’t like to see those skimpy jackets, that many times leave a zone that should be covered exposed. But it’s not a fashion fault, but instead the lack of awareness of fashion victims without any physique du rôle.
Just like the trench: in the past I wore it, but it’s not an easy garment to wear without conviction. But let’s not confuse style with fashion: it’s style that makes the fashion.
Mature models today are so much sought-after by designers, also because they have a strong influence on youngers over the social networks. Something you have experienced too landing on Facebook at the tender age of 82 few months ago.
I’m like Sean Connery, at my age I could easily start modeling as a mature and naturally elegant mannequin. Youngers love grey hair models, but well aged, because they infuse a sense of encouraging power towards an undefined future, that models their same age could never be able to instill.
In front of certain icons, generational jump is reduced to zero because it’s the person who makes the dress, not the opposite. It’s so true that this personalities are so strong that whether naked or dressed up they are always extremely elegant. They could also show up untidy but it’s the face, the expression, is what they keep inside and show outside, through the eyes, that it’s able to change the face to the dress too. That’s why they are called models.
And it’s a question of charisma, it’s a fascination that comes from self-awareness, and there’s always a sexual root in this gift.
You must attract women if you wanna attract men. The key is desire: if a man is desired by many women, other men wanna be like him, maybe just in a detail to wear, to drive or live. And the same is for women. Rules that advertisers know very well when it’s time to choose a testimonial.
Which fashion trend marked more your generation?
The 50’s of Marlon Brando and James Dean with their jeans, t-shirts, leather jackets and boots marked a new era, and still nowadays they’re imitated. But it wasn't about the clothes themselves, rather what these guys were able to instill with their personal legends to yesterday and nowadays dudes.
So it was cinema...
At that time among the actors there were innate class and charisma.
The strong virility of Burt Lancaster is an example.
But the most elegant of all, to me, was Peter Sellers.
The only one of the great Italian actors of that time that could be similar to him in fact of elegance was Marcello Mastroianni, but it was a mannequin elegance, while Peter Sellers was inborn. About nowadays Italian actors I think Kim Rossi Stuart is elegant, the others a bit less…
And then there is him, Sean Connery, the only one that for me has the two basic features together: he’s handsome and elegant. I mean, truth is that a beautiful man with no style is like he is not even existing. A ugly man full of style is the cool one who always wins the beautiful. And the difference between a simply beautiful man and a real cool one is enormous, and smart women catch it on straight aways, fortunately.
What kind of fashion trend better enhanced the male figure, for you?
So, yes, as well…
By memory? Nudity. If you are cool with no dress on, then you can wear them well.
Let’s talk about women’s elegance. Do you think - like many men do - that ballerinas shoes are to be banned from feminine feet?
Women, if feminine, are beautiful in any way, barefoot or wearing heels. I terribly love ballerinas, it depends on how they are worn, but it’s never a matter of accessories. Instead, I can’t stand short women wearing plateau or wedge heels…
Sadly, men have eyes to watch, and adapting to fashion is wrong. Absurdly, it’s better the Arab fashion, where you can image what’s under. A woman is too marvelous mystery to be so mistreat by a certain fashion.
You wrote songs for the greatest divas of Italian music, different women but with a rare elegance in common.
Mina was everything a man can desire: elegant, lively, dramatic, good to stand out and to sing. She was above all, together with Ornella Vanoni: all-beautiful, an actress, a voice, an extreme womanliness and a sensuality that no other one had.
Then of course Milva. When she sang mine Da troppo tempo she was experiencing an extraordinary moment of beauty and voice: both she and Ornella were women grown up by Giorgio Strehler, but he just succeed to shape Milva, completely. But he could never manage Ornella.
What kind of accessories make the real difference in men’s fashion?
Those necessary, like hats: in winter, I never go out without a coppola, in summer, in order not to burn my head I wear a panama that unfortunately makes me look like Francesco De Gregory, more beautiful of course, less good but more beautiful.
Bow tie is a trendy habit today, but it never convinced me. Instead, I collect socks of every color, I have a dresser full of socks, only to then going out barefoot since March.
What do you prefer to wear in your everyday attire?
I’ve been faithful to the rebels without a cause: slim fit jeans, leather bomber jacket, t-shirt, sometimes a polo shirt, plus a regulation pashmina. At night, if I’m invited, it’s easy: I remove the leather jacket and wear a tuxedo blazer, just that, not the full suit. If it’s a really elegant night, I surrender to a dress shirt: a white mandarin collar shirt and go!
I know you’ve got a weakness for shoes.
Yes. I think I’m like women.
I love derby shoes, Chelsea boots, and in summer sometimes I still wear espadrilles, easy and sexy. But there was a time when I surrendered to those dreadful heeled boots, furthermore white, like a true imperial boorish: I was also a longhair bald. But no woman ever told me I was bold. In conclusion, I had a trendy period in the 70’s. I remember that I wore those horrible ankle boots in Amsterdam, when at the end of the 70’s I found myself in one of the last hippies parties. With that embarrassing attire - today, back then we were not aware of - I showed up at the party bringing a jug of Colli Tortonesi wine, making friends drink straight from the hosepipe…
Let’s sum up in a sentence: what’s elegance?
Elegance, to quote someone, wears out those who don’t have it.
Above all, once passed the fleeting beauty of youth, elegance allows you to be still here to play hard to get, as I do.