A luxury brand becomes flamenco in Seville and in Florence events are precipitated. The butterfly effect of fashion has fully reached Pitti Immagine Uomo, the salon of ready-to-wear of Florence with the highest prestige in the sector (by number of participants and volume of business), which in its one hundred and second edition promised them very happy with its definitive return to the old normality. The usual four-day program, from Tuesday to Friday, has had to be condensed into two. A deference of the organization with the international agents required by Force Majeure this Thursday in the Andalusian capital that has caused the consequent collapse of the planned agenda of presentations, parades and special events. The chaotic consequences of that April Fair orchestrated by Dior.
Still, the economic news is good, which is what matters here. The expectations generated by this call, between June 14 and 17, have been fulfilled after the two previous test seasons in the middle of the pandemic (the very restricted appointments of June 2021 and January of this year). The exhibiting firms already total 682 and the number of buyers, 10,000. “These are figures that double those of the last edition, a very positive balance for what it means in terms of market recovery”, values Raffaello Napoleone, CEO of Pitti Immagine. “The brands that have bet on the fair again are the ones that have struggled to remain in these very difficult years for the industry. In January and February, Italian fashion exports have also increased between 8 and 11% worldwide, including China. And we are noticing a notable interest among buyers in emerging markets such as South Africa and Latin America,” continues the executive, who insists on the importance of preserving the Florentine show in person: “There is no digital formula that can replace relationships, exchange of knowledge, energy and emotion of physical contact”.
The scene of firsts and premieres, Pitti Immagine Uomo is the Cannes of fashion. Laboratory of trends, testing ground for what is about to be worn and a forum for ideas, the joint exhibition of men’s and women’s collections —even in the case of a fair eminently dedicated to men— and even the erasing of gender boundaries are pioneering practices here , as well as the commitment to sustainability and to giving visibility to new voices in design, from Africa to Asia. Those who come to his call, every January and June since 1972, do so because they know that it is an inexcusable appointment, under penalty of missing the zeitgeist. And then there is the appeal of its attractive location: Pitti is Florence, because its program extends throughout the city. And all of it gets involved and is part of its expression, putting enclaves of its heritage at the service of the fair in an unparalleled fashion-art-culture symbiosis. What he receives in return is not negligible either: the economic impact of the show in the Italian town is estimated at 400,000 million euros, according to a study by the Bocconi University, the prestigious Milan Business and Law school.
The Medici Riccardi Palace, which houses the chapel of the Magi with Gozzoli’s frescoes, has been one of those historic-monumental enclaves that contributed to the splendor of the Pitti Immagine Uomo 102. For its Renaissance courtyards intervened by the Ghanaian artist Ibrahim Mahama has paraded the mixed proposal for spring/summer 2023 by Grace Wales Bonner, who wanted to amplify the sociocultural message of her creative discourse by claiming for the occasion the forgotten figure of Duke Alessandro, the mestizo Medici who happens to be the first head of state colored in the West. “I felt that I had to react from my position to the meaning of this place, which it symbolizes as a center of power, but also of elegance,” explains the British designer (of a Jamaican father) to EL PAÍS. The result is an overwhelming technical and textile richness, which unites the London sartorial tradition of Savile Road cut by the tailors of Anderson & Sheppard and the Parisian haute couture of Maison Charvet and its jacquard silk with crafts from Ghana and Burkina Faso in a cross-cultural story. New sneaker models from his collaboration with Adidas’ Originals line added urban (and commercial) value to Wales Bonner’s return to a catwalk from 2020.
Ann Demeulemeester is also back. The eponymous firm that she founded in 1981, at least. The legendary Belgian creator, a member of the so-called Antwerp Six —the gang of designers from the Royal Academy of Fine Arts in Antwerp who put the country on the fashion map—, came to Florence as Pitti’s guest of honour. Uomo to give support to the reactivation plans promoted by Claudio Antonioli, brains of the New Guards Group, who acquired the banner in 2020. The poetic retrospective montage in the monumental Stazione Leopolda, with emblematic pieces from its collections until 2013 (date on that Demeulemeester left his ensign) honored a legacy so relevant that it escapes any temporary consideration/review.
Meanwhile, in the Fortezza da Basso, a Renaissance mass where the show’s exhibitors are located, there were presentations such as that of the UTO project, the latest creative recycling effort for the health of the oceans by the Spanish brand Ecoalf; conferences about the Web 3.0 revolution and the metaverse, the new promised land of fashion, and demonstrations of solidarity such as that of Ukranian Fashion Now!, which has brought together a selection of Ukrainian creators. The icing on the cake was put on Thursday by Gucci, which opened Giardino 25, a café-bar a stone’s throw from the Gucci Garden space in Piazza della Signoria, launching its first spirit, the Elisir d’Elicrisos, a collector’s bottle cocktail devised by Giorgio Bargiani, deputy director of mixology at The Connaught Bar in London, which those who stayed until the end were able to sample for the first time. It is already known, whoever went to Seville, lost his chair.
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