InStyle, March 2003, by Angela Matusik
Man of 

A great deal of fuss has been made over the clothes Colin Firth has worn on screen. A wet
  shirt that clung to his chest in the 1995 TV version of Pride and Prejudice set women  atwitter on both sides of the Atlantic. Then there was the reindeer sweater he posted in Bridget Jones’s Diary. "I actually wanted to keep that," says the 42-year-old father of two, who dons a more serious wardrobe for the new comedy What a Girl Wants. Befitting his charmingly accidental sex appeal, Firth doesn't take fashion too seriously. In fact fellow Brit Rupert Everett once kidded him that he was "far too heterosexual about these things."

You play Dad to all-American Amanda Bynes in What a Girl Wants. Was that a change of pace for you?
I play a lord who has decided to renounce his title in order to stand for an election. But basically it is a fairy tale about a father and a daughter. It's loosely based on a Vincente Minelli film that was made in the fifties called The Reluctant Débutante, with Rex Harrison [and Sandra Dee]. It's not blindingly surprising territory for me—my character is one of those men who's as much defined by his reserve as anything else.

Your wife, Livia Giuggioli, is Italian and you've lived in Italy. How would you compare Italian style with British?
The part of Italy that I know puts more of an emphasis on classicism, rather than on anything avant- garde. I don't know Milan. I see a lot of V-neck polo sweaters with the shirt underneath. They like stuff that fits; it's much more about that than being courageous. A lot of Italians come to London for the novelty of seeing the weirdness—the fact that people are prepared to forfeit elegance in order to make an impact.

Do you remember when you started experimenting with fashion?
Oh, yes. I was constantly trying to fit in. It was always a little bit out of reach, a little bit too expensive. But I think fashion is about that. There has to be something that is a little bit inaccessible about it in order for it to remain elite. If it is for everyone, it is pointless.

How do you like to see women dress?
It's so case-specific. I think the bare midriff thing can be absolutely sexy, or it can be ridiculous. I also like the sense of the unexpected, to see a woman dressed in a way that makes a mystery of what her body is like.

Did you worship any style idols growing up?
Well, seeing Marc Bolan [from the band T. Rex] on TV when I was about 8 was a big moment. I had never seen glitter under the eyes before on anyone. He was androgynous, and it was interesting to me because he was pretty like a girl but he was actually extremely masculine. And I liked his music. But it was also about watching him onstage being adored by people. It prompted me to take guitar lessons, which were spectacularly unsuccessful.

What's your greatest extravagance?
CDs. And I do own a lot of books, more than I can read. Books and music are the only things that I accumulate.

What CDs have you bought recently?
Solomon Burke, Aqualung. Badly Drawn Boy I've got. I keep at it. It is a continual area of obsession. I go through different phases of preoccupation. It's very juvenile in a way. I'll have a Caribbean obsession, then West African, and then it'll be jazz.

Is there anyone who makes you star-struck?
I think I would struggle a bit if I met Bob Dylan. Anybody who has had something to do with critical moments of your life would be tough. Dylan was probably playing somewhere the first time I fell in love or had a drink. The same with the Stones or the Beatles.

So how do you handle it when people gush over meeting you?
Sometimes it's delightful and light and easy, and people are just being complimentary in a very unassuming and pleasant way. Sometimes it's spooky and they're weird, and I don't really know how to deal with it. In the end I just try to be as civilized as possible. 

(Thanks to Silvie and Mari)
Photos by Julian Broad
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