One ineradicable image of designer Massimo Piombo is a man alone in his library by a loch in Scotland: cultured, thoughtful, solitary. A man who was thrilling to the recent purchase at Sotheby's in Paris of items that might once have been worn by Oscar Wilde.
The other image of Massimo Piombo is the back-slapping social animal who invited a pack of like-minded Milanese to celebrate his new MP Massimo Piombo collection at Bar Jamaica, for years the hangout of choice in Brera for Milan's greatest thinkers and drinkers. Piombo's samples hung in one room of the bar while Aperol spilled in the other.
It was a good way to appreciate MP, in an environment where the men who are most likely to wear the clothes are most likely wearing them. It's not a collection that demands reassessment each season. Instead, a connoisseurial appreciation is what's really required for coats spun from a pure baby alpaca so soft to the touch that it practically cast a sleep spell. Same with a teddy bear coat in 100 percent mohair, and almost the same with a matching jacket and coat in a cashmere-and-silk check woven in Scotland. Such is the intimate geography of Piombo's business that he can weave a yarn about every single piece, literally and figuratively.
The silk merchants of Lyon we already knew about. Among the newer stories were the French corduroy that is usually only found in haute couture; the wool from Helsinki, which is favored by Finnish fishermen; the peccary suede, fallen from favor since the sixties. There was also a delightful cocktail jacket in baby-blue alpaca with a black silk lapel that made Piombo think of Vegas in the fifties. You could wear it in the daytime, he suggested. After all, as he boldly stated in the manifesto he distributed at Bar Jamaica, "I do not look for a new fashion but only for new images of life."