Dylan Jones: If you ask me

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The Independent Online

If you ask me (chaps), Angelo Galasso should be made the patron saint of office workers. Galasso (born 48 years ago in Francavilla Fontana, near Brindisi) is largely responsible for what you probably wore to the office yesterday, and what you'll probably wear to work on Monday. He's the reason you're not wearing a limp lettuce leaf round your neck, the reason you look halfway decent without a tie in the meeting you had yesterday, the reason you can get away with looking so casual at work. He has not been without celebrity patronage – his shirts have been worn by everyone (well, not everyone) from Sirs Paul McCartney and Michael Caine to David Beckham and Tony Blair – although his most important influence has been at work. Essentially, the Italian designer is the man who made open-necked, high-collared shirts fashionable, and you can see his influence in every office in every town in the country.

If you're a chap, you probably don't wear a tie to work these days, and probably use Dress Down Friday as an excuse not to bother to get dressed for work anymore. Spurred on by its apparent success in the US, eight or nine years ago British companies began telling their employees to slacken up a bit. Sir Peter Bonfield, then chief executive of BT, even ordered his 135,000 employees to "wear what you like". Which is what they did, coming to work in corduroys and Wellingtons. What Bonfield didn't grasp was man's basic inability to think for himself, not knowing that when Wall Street law firms did the same thing, they asked the likes of Ralph Lauren to come in and show them how to do it.

Galasso saw through this immediately, and understood that if you're going to forego subtleties like the tie, then you need to make a statement elsewhere, namely with your shirt. These days Angelo designs the clothes for Flavio Briatore's Billionaire Couture label, the sort of extravagant clothing you're unlikely to see the men in your office wearing (not unless your office is a nightclub), but the high-collared shirts are still there, poking above the madness, and drawing attention to themselves in a way that shirts never really have before. Men, if we still wore hats I'd suggest you doff yours in honour of our Italian friend, and give thanks every time you pass the tie drawer.

Dylan Jones is the editor of 'GQ'