Prospero Gianferrari (2° from the right) at the Alfa Romeo Headquarters
Yawwwwwnnnnn! Good morning my dear inferiors. Please hold on until the caffeine works its way to my central nervous system… Right, today John Cravatta will explain to you a thing or two about fashion fascism. Because rest assure on one thing: I don’t like fashion Fascists at least as much as I dislike men in T-shirts, shorts and sandals (and you know how much I dislike this sort of men). Now, Fashionable Fascists are people that constantly think about fashion and nothing else. Let me tell you something: that is not fashionable. All right, all right, I promise I won’t use the words “fashion”, “fashionable” and “fascist” for a while.
But, you see? In medio stat virtus, like the Romans use to say: virtue stands in the middle. It is important to be able to dress nicely, but please don’t brag about it. Nobody likes people bragging. Ok, so you can put colors together and you have the money that it takes to buy nice dresses? Wow, that don’t impress me much, to put it like my former sweetheart Shania Twain would. I have already stressed the importance of having some personality to go with your envelope of nice clothes, and John Cravatta, like Paganini, doesn’t like repetitions.
So, let’s put it this way: the people that are constantly concerned with what they are wearing are not proper gentlemen. All right: words have changed since I was born. Back in the good old days the term “gentleman” did not have a positive connotation. My late friend Clive Staples Lewis once wrote that “the word gentleman originally meant something recognizable; one who had a coat of arms and some landed property”, but today a gentleman is a good-mannered, Elegant, well-spoken man.
It’s all about Elegance. What a wonderful word, right? It comes from the latin “eligere” which means “select with care.” Can you select with care you clothes and accessories? Are you absolutely sure that you can actually clothe yourself with dignified grace? Understatement is elegant, simplicity, essentiality. Don’t drive an Audi, that’s trying to impress. A BMW is way too sporty to be also elegant. A Mercedes!? Hitler used to have one. An Aston Martin is too expensive, a Ferrari is way too fast and way too red. A Porsche is too much of a German car. German cars are not for gentlemen, they are for parvenus. Volvos are for people who worry about accidents a lot and Saabs are for dentists. Citroen, Peugeot and Renault are French cars and you don’t want to be found in a French car, no matter what. Drive a Lancia (elegance), an Alfa Romeo (masculinity) or a FIAT (essentiality), if you wish to be recognized as a gentleman. Don’t buy new cars, new cars are also for parvenu.
But, hey! Elegance is not just about what you drive and what you wear, actually it is about what you do and how you behave. In other words, elegance is an attitude. What would you do if you heard somebody screaming for help? Would you try to help them, or would you ignore them? We have a moral duty to help other people in trouble. If, given the circumstances, you decide to ignore the call for help, no matter how well dressed, it would be safe to call you a fashionable fascist, a.k.a. somebody who is more concerned with their external appearances than the well-being of others.
Being elegant means, first and foremost, being able to distinguish between good and evil, right and wrong, or black and white if you wish. Forget about Fifty Shades of Gray, that is a quintessentially non-elegant movie. People that are constantly concerned about sex are not elegant, they are animals. Now, don’t get me wrong: I love animals. My favorite Animal is the chicken, because it can be made into fried or roasted chicken. But animals are animals. Some have speculated that human beings have evolved from apes. It’s a stupid theory, of course, but even if it were true: the apes are still in the cage. Human beings are exponentially more intelligent than monkeys, regardless of what Charlie Darwin might have thought. There is nothing you can do about it. Get over it. It means we are better, in a way.
But this also means another thing: we have more responsibilities than Orangutans and Gorillas. They cannot be hold accountable for their behavior, but we can. My father used to say that elegance is not a dress you can wear, but it is something you possess. It’s a precious gift that must be taken care of. You must respect people, be kind to them, love them. Love you enemies, for Christ’s sake! Does this mean you are also supposed to love fashionable fascists!? In a way, yes. But that doesn’t mean you are supposed to let them be. They act that way because they probably just don’t know any better. Your duty as a gentleman is to gently try to make them understand. But if they don’t listen to you, by all means, give up. Don’t waste your time and energy on people that are not capable of listening. My dear inferiors, here’s the bottom line: fashionable fascists are bad enough, but deaf fashionable fascists are even worst. And now I need another coffee, I beg your pardon.
John “Morning Coffee” Cravatta
Filed under: Culture Tagged: elegance, fascism, fashion