Get the Positano Look
Fashion on the Amalfi Coast from the 1950s to Today
The Birth of a Moda
Italy's now legendary Moda Positano, or Positano style, was born in the late 1950s, when the tiny fishing village of Positano suddenly transformed into one of the world's trendiest tourist destinations. Until then, the village, like its neighbors along the Amalfi Coast, had been the haven of an exclusive group of off-season visitors: musicians, painters and aristocrats, primarily from Northern Europe, in search of inspiration, relaxation, and winter sun.
After the World War II, the Amalfi Coast was discovered by a wider variety of travelers, ranging from well-heeled jetsetters to hitchhiking hippies. This new set of travellers preferred to visit during spring and summer, and the beach - where fishermen for centuries had docked their boats and repaired their nets - was soon overtaken by a hoard of holidaymakers in search of sun, fun, and .... fashion!
From "Rags" to Riches
Visitors to Positano today are struck by the same painterly colors and resort atmosphere which drew those first waves of travellers in the 1950s, and which was the inspiration for the comfortable, light clothes which mark the Moda Positano. This interest in casual clothing inspired the seamstresses and tailors of Positano to use hand-dyed lengths of hemp and cotton (the so-called 'pezze' or rags) to create flowing, low cut dresses, lace-fringed skirts, and roomy blouses for ladies to wear over their bathing costumes, and also to design some of Italy's first bikinis, which were often knitted in wool or made from small pieces of cloth adorned with pearls and costume jewelry.
Both men and women discovered how amazingly comfortable the so-called 'fishermen's trousers' could be. These 'pantaloni alla pescatora' are cropped just below the knee and are the perfect attire for climbing up the steep roads of Positano or disembarking from a yacht!
Where Fashion is Anything but Fickle
Though the painter John Ruskin had described the "brazen" women of Positano as wearing "an oblique handkerchief on the chest, lively in the color, opened bodice, short skirt, and big sandals to the feet" already in 1847, when that very same 'look' was launched in the 1950s, it was as if a brand new fashion had been born.
Fashion may be fickle, but not in Positano - where the 1950s styles (only slightly modernized) are still selling like hot cakes, and where a summer shopping spree in the town's boutiques is an absolute must for every vacationer who passes through.
From Bandanas to Sandals: Head-to-Toe Positano
In the 1960s, a number of Positano's artisan shoemakers began crafting flat heeled leather sandals with either a single or spider web strap, fueling a fashion which was to spread the whole length of the Amalfi Coast and across the water to the island of Capri. And when style divas, the likes of Jackie Onassis and Brigitte Bardot, started sporting the sandals during their Italian holidays, business boomed!
The narrow cobbled lanes and steep flights of steps which characterize the town continue to make wearing high heeled shoes in Positano a fashion faux pas. Like Jackie and Brigette, you'll be much better off strutting your stuff in a pair of flat, artisan-made sandals!
Fashion in a Flash!
The name "Maria Lampo" has acquired legendary status in Positano. Immediately after World War II, Maria and her husband, Alfonso, opened a little shop in the center of the town, outside of which they put a sign: "MADE TO MEASURE TROUSERS". When customers asked how long it would be before their trousers were ready, they were told "just enough time for a leisurely swim!" Indeed, Maria was able to complete a pair of trousers from start to finish in under two hours,earning her the nickname "Maria Lampo" (Maria in a flash). Still today, their shop is the perfect place to pick up beautiful beach wear, from brightly colored bikinis to jazzy "bandanas".
Positano's Best Boutiques
via Pasitea 12-16 - Positano
Brunella is one of the best-known boutiques in Positano. The shop has been attracting a celebrity clientele with its lovely linen and cotton creations since the 1960s.
La Bottega di Brunella
via Pasitea 72 - Positano
Giacomo Cinque is a key player on Positano's fashion scene, famous for his beautiful beachwear. Cinque's bikinis, decorated with turquoise and coral, are already collector's items.
via del Brigantino 13 - Spiaggia grande - Positano
Carmine Todisco's father is said to have seduced Jackie Onassis with no more than a pair of toe-strap sandals! His son continues to make to-die-for, hand stitched footwear today.
via del Saracino - Positano
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