Magazine article The Spectator

Slipping the Ve Lvet

Magazine article The Spectator

Slipping the Ve Lvet

Article excerpt

I knew something was up when an impeccably tailored Italian of my acquaintance told me the most remarkable piece of news: Flavio Briatore had been seen out and about wearing slippers. He imparted this news to me with the full gravity that others might reserve for such trivia as the whereabouts of Osama bin Laden or the exact details of Iran's nuclear programme. I shared his concern and my mind ran riot with visions of a care-inthe-community-style Flavio shambling around the streets not just in his slippers but with a dressing-gown and a set of striped flannel pyjamas.

However, there was not a hint of the day-care room about the Formula One tsar's look. Admittedly it was in Les Caves du Roy in St Tropez, where even I would not dare to wear my string-waisted pyjamas; instead he was impeccably clad in the uniform of the private jet set: expensively faded and tastefully torn denim jeans worn with a shirt open a few more buttons than is normal St James's (but just right for St Trop).

And yes, slippers are indeed a part of the Flavio look. Flavio has a clothing brand called Billionaire, which showcases the design talents of one Angelo Galasso, and since becoming a fashion boss as well as nightclub impresario and motor-racing boss, Flavio has taken to wearing the sort of velvet slippers that are traditionally worn by gouty old codgers in BBC TV period dramas who dress for dinner each night in their stately homes.

The story is that the anglophile Galasso felt that there was a place for these shoes in the Billionaire wardrobe, embroidered with the logo of course, never dreaming that they would become a dance-floor favourite. 'Flavio wore them in his Sardinian nightclub Billionaire, cult location for international VIPs, ' explains Galasso helpfully, 'and because they are really comfortable they have become a fashion item, indeed the trend is to wear them with a blazer, perhaps with torn jeans.

The matching has to be very sober, ' he cautions, 'therefore the colour has to be either black, or dark brown, or burgundy with the logo in aged silver.' Thinking on his feet, so to speak, Galasso started taking orders for bespoke velvet slippers personalised with the wearer's zodiac sign.

Traditionally such shoes are embroidered with some crest or heraldic device to enhance the ancestral verisimilitude. I have a wonderful pair, bespoke, from Maxwell's, black with a black calf interior and decked out with a very handsome cipher in gold thread -- not mine, I must add, but ordered then not collected by some customer, and picked up by me in a sale some years ago. …

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