I’m having a hard time understanding what Massimo Rossetti is saying.
The Italian fashion designer is filling my ears with information about Parajumpers, a line of parkas, vests and jackets available at Harry Rosen. But his English is broken and I don’t speak Italian. He wonders if I know any French. My answer is disappointing. So our conversation is stilted. Each of us is scrutinizing the other, hunting for that knowing tell of recognition. When he’s at a loss for the right English word, he’ll shout something in Italian to his wife. She’ll reply and he’ll say the right word. The thing I get, the thing that needs no translation, is that the military aesthetic is something Massimo loves.
“If I take my inspiration from people in the restaurant, I have nothing,” he says. “It’s only one idea. [Using the military aesthetic], gives me more to play with.”
His playground is littered with elements from the navy, army, and air force. Details stripped from his travels and chance encounters. He’s quick to point out that he’s no thief. “I don’t copy the same jacket. I use it as inspiration and then I change the details.”
Massimo leads me to one of his pieces, a slim-fit parka called the Right Hand Man ($1,280). It looks stylish and functional. He points to the large cargo pocket. This, he says, comes from 210th Rescue Squadron in Anchorage, Alaska. Pressed into duty to complete extreme rescues, these men require functional fashion that can survive harsh and hostile environments. Massimo tells me their jackets feature a pocket large enough to hold a helmet. He adapted the look for his jacket. You can stash a notebook or wallet inside and there are an additional three pockets for stowing your gadgets.
Massimo loves explaining these details. As we wander around the Parajumpers display, he shares the origin story for the signature element of his parkas—the parachute hook. He got it from those same Alaskan rescuers. For you and I, the hook’s a frill, a piece of flair, but it’s his fashion fingerprint.
On the Right Hand Man park, you’ll find a coyote fur trim. You can remove the down-filled liner. Real goose plumage not that synthetic shit. Other items in the Parajumpers line include a slim-fit bomber jacket, down vest and several other parka: the Gobi Bomber Parka ($1,135) or the longer Harraseeket Parka ($1,325). It’s a steep investment, but a good jacket doesn’t come cheap. Winter is coming.
Pierre Hamilton is a freelance writer from Toronto, where some of his best friends describe him as an acquired taste. He enjoys bourbon and scotch, but craves craft beer, overproof Jamaican rum and great non-fiction. He has a very limited style knowledge but knows what he likes. He also produces a monthly music podcast called Sound Considerations. Follow him, but not too closely, on Twitter.