When Cafe Lago’s Carla Leonardi and her team contacted me about their Doposcuola classes and asked if I would help them put together an evening on Italian fashion, my immediate reply was, “Just one night? Let’s do a month-long series.”
Doposcuola (say “doh-poh-skwa-lah”) is an Italian word that refers to after-school activities; it puts me in the mind of extracurricular classes you’d take on to impress your advisor or appease your mom. But that was back when we were kids. These days, continuing education is a genuine, horizon-expanding good time.
Cafe Lago’s Wednesday night study halls are definitely a good time.
The format is simple: Expert guests on subjects such as Vespas, Italian travel, romance and scandal in Italian opera, and Italian hand gestures (!) come in, twenty or so restaurant clients (must be 21 or older) gather around the table (having all signed up ahead of time; the spots go fast), and everyone orders dinner (the class is free, dinner is regularly priced). As you all enjoy the meal, the expert unfurls his/her wisdom and stories, and a dialog ensues.
Now do you see why I insisted on the entire month of January, not just a single week?
Below is the schedule for our every-Wednesday January style semester. Evenings begin at 7; “students” are asked to arrive at 6:30. To reserve your spot at the table, call Cafe Lago at 206-329-8005. (Seattle Met is not handling reservations, please call the restaurant.) Again, there is no additional cost to attend Doposcuola; your spot is free with your dinner reservation.
Wednesday, January 4: Amanda Brotman from Amanda Pearl
Yes, her father launched the most ubiquitous big-box retail enterprise of our era, but Amanda is all about small batch accessories. The award-winning designer is perhaps best known for her clutches, which happen to be produced in Italy. We persuaded the former Seattleite and current New Yorker to tack a few extra days on to her holiday visit to come to Cafe Lago and talk about the process of securing and overseeing Italian manufacturers for the bags that celebrities love to carry. How are they made, and how does that famous Italian craftsmanship factor in? Shoppers, take note: This doposcuola will function like a trunk show, too. What, you thought Brotman would just talk about her Italian-made bags? No, she’s bringing in armloads, too.
Wednesday, January 11: Gian DeCaro from DeCaro Sartoria
Everything about DeCaro’s attitude toward Italian and American mens style can be distilled to this statement, which he made to me years ago when he appeared on our Style Counsel page ‘In Italy it’s the man who’s the peacock. It’s not considered effeminate to be well dressed. Have you ever seen a cop directing traffic in Italy in that starched white outfit? It looks like he’s in an opera. It’s all about appearance there, and it’s all about disappearing in America. You know Emanuel Ungaro? He wore navy blue suits all the time because he worked with color so much, and for his pocket square he would walk through the ladies’ atelier, cut a piece of fabric, and put it in his pocket. That’s sprezzatura. Studied nonchalance.’ DeCaro’s atelier, as well as his wit and charm, allows men in Seattle access to that attitude, and the made-to-measure traditional Italian suiting to go with it.
Wednesday, January 18: Me! Due to STORMWATCH 2012 we are postponing this event until Wednesday, February 8
Now, I have never been to Italy. Let’s get that out of the way right now. But I’m familiar with the Old World style of shopping, in which megamalls are irrelevant and it’s all about the dressmaker, the cobbler, the cheese shop, the stationer. You can shop that way in Seattle, and with an Italian twist, you just have to know which small, mom-and-pop boutiques carry the best straight-from-Italy merchandise. I’ll give diners a tour of our city based on the best Italian lifestyle and fashion lines—the ones that made Italy famous and the up-and-coming ones—and who sells them.
Wednesday, January 25: Michael Cepress
Do local, independent designers still reference the Italian way? University of Washington textiles and fine art scholar and menswear designer Michael Cepress will talk about his process of creating artful, wearable studies of fit and form, and how it relates to and references the world-regarded practice of Italian tailoring. Consider it Project Runway meets Work of Art, with both Seattle and Italy woven in.