FLORENCE--It's that time of year again. We've landed in Italy for Pitti Immagine, the biannual trade show featuring the best of men's fashion, as well as up-and-coming women's designers. This season's highlights include a Band of Outsiders runway show this evening and a Rodarte event tomorrow night, where the sister duo will launch a new collection as well as their first book: Rodarte, Catherine Optie, Alec South.
But as the young ones from Los Angeles prepared to take the stage, Pitti 80 kicked off with a particularly cool exhibition, curated by fashion historian and critic Olivier Saillard, whose most recent work includes the Madame Gres exhibit at the Palais Galliera fashion museum (where he is director). To uniquely highlight several of the standout menswear brands at the fair (including Brunello Cucinelli and Church's), Saillard envisioned "Dress Like a Man," a runway show/exhibition where female models twisted and reshaped traditional menswear into body conscious skirts, jackets, and dresses.
Saillard chose veteran models Violeta Sanchez, Amalia Vaireli, Axel Doue, Claudia Huidobro for the challenge, and their slim yet shapely bodies, covered in black catsuits, were perfect canvases for everything from wide leg pants transformed into a caterpillar skirt to a suit jacket morphed into a wide collar shrug. These models came up in the '80s and '90s, so it was fantastic to see them walk the runway. They actually play to the camera, sweeping down the aisle smiling, posing, using their bodies--something today's models are custom to repressing.
Our favorite piece of the show was the dressing room, which was exposed to the audience. Saillard and his assistant dressed the women in front of us, which added an entirely different element to the runway. It may not have been the most practical way to show off the latest in menswear, but it was certainly the most captivating.