The great John Ruskin, English painter of the 1800's, founder of the movement "Arts and Craft", wrote in his italy travel diary a long series of short, dense notes. On March, 7 1847 he stops in Positano - he annotated: "Crowds of peasants go up and down in the valley - beautiful in the face and the skeleton - they are impudent, and the women are brazen. A smiling fourteen or fifteen years old girl, the finest face that I have seen in Italy - a perfect sea nymph. Peculiar dress: an oblique handkerchief on the chest, lively in the color, opened bodice, short sottane and big sandals to the feet".
The artist was astonished therefore of the fact that here the women did not walk with the eyes down to the earth, that they was smiling to the foreign peoples, that, at par of the local men, had those sure and brazen behavior, as sea people accustomed to the pirate incursions, to face the nature storms and the life watching straight in front of themselves.
The untied bodices, the short girls' skirts did not mean "indecent" but a simple life in tune with the warm Mediterranean ambient; if at the end of the 1800's Alan Walters was shocked observing mothers nursing in public theirs babies, in the 1950s the mass tourism changed completely the function and the image of the places: if previously the "high season" were considered the winter one, when Nordic travellers crowded lodge to Positano in order to benefit from the marine climate against the diseases taken in the rigid and dark origin countries, and the too much violent summer sun was avoided, which was believed was bad for the head, in modern years "the beach" has been revalued: not more a fishermen place who repair the nets and arm their boats to go to the sea, but new center in order to socialize, to undress themselves (of dresses and taboo), to change to skin (by tanning) and personality, to make aquatic sports and to show themselves ready to erotic adventures.
Positano with its splendid beaches ("spiaggia grande" and the beach of "Fornillo") represented clearly these characteristics, without violence, like in an ironic, solar and amusing game. The "young lions" of 1950s become "lions in sunlight" (from the title of the Vittorio Caprioli film), passing from the via Veneto nights in Rome to the immersions in the crystalline sea in "Li galli", while exotic hippies, painters, musicians, mystics constitute one colored community of habitués.
Positano fashion was born therefore in order to satisfy requirements of both the groups: the gild and outlandish "holidayers" and the sophisticated outsiders. Initially, in 1950s and 1960s, swimsuits, beach robes and other sea dresses proposed hawaiana inspiration colorful fantasies: then in 1970s the unique ink gauzes were dictate the fashion. A craftsmen community grew up and produced continuously, winter and summer, for the customers who often more returned to redo their vacation dresses. Very low prices, speed of execution and the use of the pure cotton made the fortune of local taylors, among them the famousest was "Maria Lampo" (Maria Lightning, ndt), so called because in her boutique it succeeded to make a pair of pants in an hour to an American tourist who renamed her: since her boutique is the most famous of Positano. 1960s colorful gauzes have been replaced by new burlap wovens or "rasatello" in policrome fantasies, also because the abuse of coloring powders (the famous "Superiride") used by the craftsmen who colored the wovens in enormous pots before cutting the models, provoked a dangerous marine pollution, where the drainages flowed under coast.
Actually Positano fashion does not indicate trasgression, hippism, dolce vita, but simple sport and atmosphere love: Mediterranean plants are reproduced on the special pattern of the models, lemons, oranges, flowers and leaves in most luminous fantasies that serve to exalt the tanning. Famous shoemakers, that together to those of Capri and Sorrento manifactured the cinema star shoes, continue to manufacture personalized sandals, in the unmistakable models: "spider", "fratino", "infradito", together to hooves made of comfortable wood or cork and shoes made of burlap with rope sole, copied and made again industrially from the Spanish people but never equaled.