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Lifestyle Journal

Summer Stripes: The History

Pablo Picasso in his workshop in Antibes in 1946.

The stripe has become synonymous with legends as diverse as Pablo Picasso and James Dean and nautically it is associated with sailors from Venetian gondoliers to the jet-set glamour on yacht decks. But it is not just the province of the globetrotting avant-garde, the stripe never entirely lost it’s connotation of danger and debauchery.

The relationship between stripes and the sea goes back a very long time. The striped top, what we know today as a Breton, has become a marker of effortless chic, It then became popular with navy workers, for its ease of wear and practicality.

The shirt was originally known as marinière or matelot. The original design featured 21 stripes, one for each of Napolean’s Bonaparte’s victories and the distinctive stripes made it easier to spot arbitrary sailors who had fallen overboard.

Sean Connery in blue striped poplin shirt 1965.

Ottavio Missoni 1990.

The striped shirt was still considered strictly workwear for a few more decades, until leisure time became an official concept in 1936 with the introduction of paid holidays. Coco Chanel favoured masculine silhouettes to empower her female clientele and high society soon adopted to these stripy jersey’s under blazers which in turn help to commercialise the stripe as a wardrobe staple.

During the pre-war Riviera years the stripe had become a firm symbol of leisurewear and a handful of emerging designers added their own influence to the distinctive pattern such as the Italian fashion house Missoni known for their bold knitted stripe, as late founder Ottavio Missoni revealed: ‘With the first machines we could only make solid or stripeknitwear’ - this unusual pattern caught the eye of the American Vogue, which made the brand into a household name.

Stripes have the power to make a surface highly distinguishable, a black and white stripewas once the uniform of prisoners and outcasts; to be striped was indeed to be barred, and marked detainees as socially excluded. “The horizontal stripes of black and white, applied in such broad widths, appear vulgar and brash, something undignified imposed upon the wearer,” write Mark Hampshire and Keith Stephenson in Communicating with Pattern: Stripes.

During the 60s and 70s stripes were seen as a rebellious, hipster pattern and were worn only by those looking to question the fashion authority with an artistic interpretation, thus creating their own sub culture.

James Dean wore his striped shirt in ‘Rebel Without a Cause’ in the 1960′s Beat Generation.

Luca Faloni: Italian Stripe

This season we have defined the iconic design by combining the stripe with our more casual linen shirt collections, the Forte and the Versilia, for fresh simplicity in true LF Classics.

To launch our Italian stripes we have opted for a vertical pattern for a more flattering look. Our stripe shirt collection is designed in pure linen to keep your cool in the summer and we have chosen crisp white and blue stripes for an iconic riviera look.