Nighttime in Rome is breathtaking. It’s also lively, exhilarating and quite adventurous—sort of like the Mission District. And like the Mission District the people are pretty chic. Oh yeah—did I mention that I’m in Rome this week. And this being my first time here I can’t help but compare it to what I know—New York and San Francisco; more specifically the Mission District. Someone who has been to Rome before is perhaps reading this and rolling their eyes, sick to their stomach that I could actually compare a place so old, so cultural and historic and so fashionable with any city in the United States. But if you pay enough attention to people’s clothes as I do (I was even checking out Kadafi’s gear at the UN World Summit on Food), you notice the similarities just like you see the differences.
Every time I see a guy in skinny pants (not just jeans, skinny transcends just jeans here) with a cardigan and slinky jacket (love the dressy cardigan with casual jacket combo) I think Mission hipster. Every time I see a woman in high boots on a scooter I think Mission fashionista. And of course every time I see a banana seat bike I’m taken back only to the Bay—we haven’t ridden those in New York since the 80s. Not only are people dressed so suavely riding their bikes; even the actual bikes are stylish. They look custom made like the ones you can get at Mission Bicycle Company on Valencia Street.
It’s no surprise that I can see so many similarities between the chic of the two cities. Besides the fact that fashion is global and certain fashion staples—jeans, t-shirts, outerwear, footwear—are universal, Europe is the birthplace of high fashion. And Italy is a front runner in all things avant garde. Gucci (founded by Guccio Gucci) has been a thriving Florentine fashion house since 1921. Dolce and Gabbana, Armani and Alessandro Dell’Acqua are among other top fashion designers and companies that continue to keep Italy on the fashion relevant map. And in footwear it doesn’t begin to falter. When I see a pair of shoes from Giuseppe Zanotti, Cesare Paccioti or Prada (Miu Miu included) I shed a tear—partly because the beauty of the art and partly because I can’t afford them. These fashion heavyweights are not cheap. And in Rome my dollar goes even shorter than at Shoe Biz or Shiekh. I’ve been contemplating a knockoff Prada bag being sold by Trevi Fountain, and a pair of high combat boots. The vendors are rigid unfortunately. So I might not be buying any gorgeous Italian fashion while in Rome, but for the rest of the week I can at least admire fashion the way the Romans do it.