Despite the frantic nature of it all, there’s something quite languorous and low key about Pitti Uomo, compared to other events in the fashion calendar. By day three, as the fair starts to buckle under the weight of nearly a week of booze-soaked amaretti biscuits and countless glasses of wine. For journalists, just after London and before the menswear shows on the continent, it feels like the most solid opportunity to truly spend time with clothes rather than watch them whizz past you in a matter of seconds, but it also lets you reach back out into the real world. There might be dandyish layers of tulle and futuristic technical sportswear still to come, but here at Pitti, you’re faced with the reality of what people outside of the cognoscenti are buying. By turns surprising and garish, a final trip 'round the fair should always be on the cards, just to pick up anything you might have missed.
A later start than usual, it was Haculla who kicked off the shows of the final day. The designer streetwear brand, ran by creative director Jon Koon and inspired by street artist Harif Guzman, lifts most of its references from New York’s graffiti art scene. They took over a cavernous warehouse space in the center of the city draping it in black sheets and dousing it in darkness; the only bursts of color visible as the crowds were ushered in: the manic murals of cartoonish characters scrawled on the walls.
A series of screwed up showrunners, dressed in paint-splattered lab coats marched around the catwalk, before tearing down the center curtains to reveal a series of Basquiat-esque cartoon sculptures. As the show started, models marched out frantically, weaving through the sculptures donning heavy black, KISS face paint and manic manes of hair.
The clothes might not have been to everybody’s taste—imagine emo wear made luxury—but there were a few casual pieces that stood out. Their high top sneakers bore cherry red rock lips, with hanging threads of embroidery; a trend being embraced by the super cool likes of Doublet right now. Similarly, the checked chef pants adorned with the brand’s face insignia are bound to go down well with the streetwear crowd.
After the Y/Project show and now Haculla, the expectation for spectacle beyond fashion is clearly something that imbues Pitti Uomo. The beauty of operating on such a laissez-faire schedule, with just a handful of shows and presentations rather than a crammed calendar, means that there’s much more scope for artists to create something visionary. Having slept on it, the brilliance of Y/Project is still spinning in my mind.
The afternoon slowed down slightly, giving us the opportunity to sit down and have a conversation with Pitti Immagine CEO Raffaello Napoleone: a man so loved by the team here that he might just be their most long-standing member. Having started there back in 1989, before becoming CEO of the company just six years later, he’s witnessed some of Pitti Uomo’s most memorable fashion moments. He told us about the experience of witnessing Raf Simons’ visionary show in the warm summer of 2016, gushing about the designer and all of his trips to Florence for Pitti collaborations in the past, finding time to rave about JW Anderson and Craig Green too
Later, Astrid Andersen, the Scandinavian designer who's made her mark at London Fashion Week with her slick visions of futuristic streetwear, unveiled her latest collaboration with longtime stylist friend Elgar Johnson and the Italian sports brand Fila. But this isn't streetwear: it's “post streetwear”; the kind of collection that envisions a future in which the current trend has been laid to rest, while still shaped slightly by the traits that have made both Andersen and Fila so hot right now. In terms of color palette and cut, this might be the most clean, 'Scandinavian’ concept Andersen has worked with for a few seasons now, but it glows. Knit piumino tops glide into floor-length skirts in greys, whites, and creams. Cagoules are crafted from Arctic print materials. There's a beautiful uniformity to it all too, as you see the clothes and then try to envision what gender—If any—they're made for. But perhaps the most exciting components of this link up are the winter-ready sneakers that fit perfectly into the hiking boot stylings kick-started by Michele's Gucci. The presentation takes the cake for being held in the most regal venue too: a stately office building-slash-home tucked down a Florence side street, adorned with Renaissance art and mirrors with gold leaf frames. The real magic moment though? Andersen's icy, Scandinavian touch, encasing every wall, door and object in an icy and opaque recycled plastic as the theme for David Lynch's Twin Peaks echoed through the speakers. An apt end to a beautiful, bone-chattering Pitti Uomo.