At Pitti, Fashion Leaned on the Past

19


FLORENCE — Fashion is on a dangerous trajectory: ideas are scarcer and quality keeps falling while prices continue to soar. There is only so much that marketing pyrotechnics can cover up. Indeed, it was telling that what was most compelling at the 103rd edition of Pitti Uomo, which ended on Thursday, was the Vintage Hub section: a tiny laboratory where visionaries such as Maurizio Donadi of Transnomadica, Roberto Lonoce of Re_javu and Luca Sartor of Riedizione Sartoria keep accumulating and reinventing cherished things from the past.

Upcycling and repurposing are nothing new in fashion and the output of its practitioners is often homogeneous in a crafty and patchy sort of way. But what set those featured at Pitti apart is, on the one side, the streamlined, taut approach to repurposing, and the sense of lived-in elegance that comes out of that; and on the other side, the contagious passion they ooze for clothing, not an ounce of cynicism or thirst for personal overexposure in sight.

In the case of Donadi, a vintage lover and hoarder with a blue-chip resume that includes long stints in product development at both Ralph Lauren and Giorgio Armani, Pitti served as a showcase for cherry-picked, rare pieces that are not even meant to be sold: the indigo-dyed smocks favoured by Henri Matisse and the fauves when painting. Donadi is also the curator behind the very interesting project Fay Archive, which was presented once again in the Fortezza da Basso: faithful reproductions of archive garments from the Diego Della Valle-owned workwear brand, meant as a reconnection to the original spirit of the label, which was born in the early 1980s when Della Valle discovered the jackets worn by a fire department in the US.

Archive feelings are all the rage at the moment. In discombobulating times, fashion becomes more nostalgic than ever. There is a decisive and widespread movement towards the easy elegance of the 1950s and early 1960s: think “The Talented Mr Ripley” and an insouciant brand of spontaneously put together masculinity. Rovi Lucca, a small yet perfectly formed line that caught my attention last season for its gardening ethos mixed with mild informality, went for cheerful visions of Tuscan countryside bliss and rustic elegance. DeNobiliaryParticle, the brainchild of communication wunderkind Paolo De Vivo, exudes a nostalgic and well-to-do feeling too, but it does so with uttermost concentration: the line is all about ribbed crewneck jumpers that look like a cherished family inheritance.

Paul Smith Spring/Summer 2025
Paul Smith Spring/Summer 2025 (Spotlight/Launchmetrics.com)
Paul Smith Spring/Summer 2025
Paul Smith Spring/Summer 2025 (Spotlight/Launchmetrics.com)
Paul Smith Spring/Summer 2025
Paul Smith Spring/Summer 2025 (Spotlight/Launchmetrics.com)

But it was at Paul Smith, who was back at Pitti after 15 years with an atelier-style presentation held in the gilded splendour of Villa Favard, complete with a makeshift Paul’s Bar, that the 50s feelings reached a peak, in a feast of lightness, multipurposeness, pale colours and just a tiny bit of floral embroideries. In other words, it was a playful take on effortless dress up: a quintessentially Paul Smith endeavour, and deliciously so, with the added bonus of Sir Paul himself explaining the looks as the models stood around him in a painter’s atelier situation. The cosy situation amplified the authenticity of the message, and it was a relief.

Pitti has become the occasion for a sort of mini fashion week in Florence, with collateral events added to the traditional calendar. There was nothing small-scaled to the graduation show held by Polimoda, one of Italy’s prominent fashion schools, in the marvellous scenery of the garden of Villa Palmieri. No means were spared, but the show was disappointing in the sense that, although perfectly executed, the collections — 18 in total — all looked cunningly redolent of what fashion is currently offering, with way too many homages to Rick Owens and Vivienne Westwood. Massimiliano Giornetti, formerly at Ferragamo and now dean of Polimoda, is doing a terrific job, but the school needs to divert the attention of the students away from what’s currently in fashion and widen their perspective. The other big fashion school in town, IED, ditched its fashion show in favour of an exhibition curated by photographer Michel Comte whose high concept was as discombobulating as it was stimulating.

With the best thing at Pitti being vintage and upcycling, Marine Serre’s turn as guest designer was well timed. Serre was an early champion of couture-worthy upcycling, but what started a few years ago as a layered exercise in utopian/dystopian dressing for a multicultural world has evolved into a chaotic puzzle of this and that with too little flavour and too much branding. This is a problem many small brands that grow too quickly face: the creative burst gives way to marketing. This was supposed to be Serre’s official debut in menswear, but the show was a co-ed thing as usual, with an emphasis on sartorial men’s pieces with a brashness à la Gianni Versace to them. The setting, however, was fantastic: the decadent Villa di Maiano in Fiesole, with a magnificent view of Florence. The show ended in total white in a plea for peace: a much needed message that nonetheless felt too easy.

Marine Serre Spring/Summer 2025
Marine Serre Spring/Summer 2025 (Spotlight/Launchmetrics.com)
Marine Serre Spring/Summer 2025
Marine Serre Spring/Summer 2025 (Spotlight/Launchmetrics.com)
Marine Serre Spring/Summer 2025
Marine Serre Spring/Summer 2025 (Spotlight/Launchmetrics.com)

More uplifting were those for whom dressing is closer to a form of art — more as an outward expression of inner sentiments than to grab attention — such as Mauro Simionato of Vitelli, an ebullient creative with a brilliant sense of colour, whose use of recycled cashmere fibres is outstanding, and Pierre-Louis Mascia, whose 15-years old label got its very first catwalk exposure at Pitti in the magical spaces of the Tepidarium del Roster.

A former illustrator, Mascia has been an early champion of the eclectic, multi-print look, but he has been very calm in reclaiming it from the copycats. This is why the show, albeit emotional and energetic, felt a bit déjà vu. It was a pity as Mascia’s sense of print is truly singular. Working it all into a different look would have made things fresher.

Paul Smith Spring/Summer 2025

Marine Serre Spring/Summer 2025



Source link

This website uses cookies to improve your experience. We'll assume you're ok with this, but you can opt-out if you wish. Accept Read More