OK Benedict Cumberbatch, We See What You're Doing
Venice is brilliant. It's also absurd in that continental, emotional sort of way. Only Europeans, with their grand designs and nine-course dinners, would deem a lagoon a solid foundation for a city-state empire. No roads, just canals! No cars, just lovely lacquered boats! No Aperol Spritz, just Venetian ones, silly! We could never. And for somewhere so comically HBO fantasy sci-fi series, it makes sense to dress up for your surroundings.
When in Venizia, do as the Veneziane do. Or, do as Benedict Cumberbatch does. For as card-carrying members of the glitterati descended upon the city for its annual film festival, the 45-year-old leaned into that whole Italian half-arsed flair thing. Which has a name, by the way: "sprezzatura". In translation: the studied art of carelessness.
Because effortlessness has been a valued commodity for some time. To be fully made up is to be fully obvious. But with sprezzatura, there's a dialing down of the legwork. That old pocket square? Just stuff it in. Forgot a tie? Open the shirt and let that Clark Kent chest breathe, baby! The result is something that panders to the dress code without looking too try-hard, and in that regard, Italians absolutely do it much, much better.
Cosplaying a young Federico Fellini is also, well, a bit much too. So in lieu of exporting American Gigolo to the Dalmatian Coast, Cumberbatch did sprezzatura on his own terms. That means a sky blue suit (very wearable is sky blue, y'know) dressed down with a white T-shirt. Below, an espadrille driving shoe hybrid. When you're nursing a hangover in gondolas all day, it makes sense to go a bit comfy and nautical.
Cumberbatch has ultimately struck the perfect balance for these such events. Because, while film festivals so often lack the high beam shine of an awards red carpet, there's still a glister. A semblance of effort is needed. What's more, the dress code is by no means prescriptive. For every Kirsten Dunst in louche, silky tailoring, there's a Matt Dillon in jeans and a Cuban collar shirt (which was great, by the way). Both options are more than permissible. But to really impress, hit the halfway point – and perhaps opt for a strain of menswear to which more conservative brands from Mitteleuropa subscribe. Hugo Boss. Giorgio Armani. Dunhill. That sort of thing.
So get on that speedboat, pull the Wayfarers down, drink a tank of champagne, buy an overpriced bowl of penne and, most importantly, sprezzatune your go-to suit. You're in Venice now, mio figlio.
This story originally appeared on Esquire.co.uk. Minor edits have been made by the Esquiremag.ph editors.