In recent years, Pitti Uomo — the men's fashion trade fair held seasonally in Florence, Italy — was known primarily for its so-called "peacocks." The attendees who earned this nickname paraded outside the show for photographers, dressed to the nines (and tens and elevens) in flashy suits, accessorized within an inch of their lives. These were the types of guys you would hate to be stuck behind at airport security while they removed their rings, brooches, and handcrafted leather shoes.
Pitti has long offered runway shows as a supplement to trade show booths to help keep the focus on the clothes being previewed as opposed to the clothes worn by guests. Event organizers have been able to lure designers off of the established London-Paris-Milan-New York fashion week calendars with the promise of being big fish in a small Florentine pond. Last June's edition seemed to be a particularly high-profile turning point, with a trifecta of menswear giants in the lineup: powerhouse designer Raf Simons, Russian boy wonder Gosha Rubchinskiy and revered Japanese label Visvim.
Virtually anything that trailed that roster would be somewhat of a comedown, but for January, Pitti invited big names like Tommy Hilfiger and Tim Coppens, fresh off his debut as creative director at Under Armour Sportswear. That combination didn't quite match June in terms of buzz and industry relevance, but it did allow for some noteworthy moments. Here are the best looks from those shows, along with three other labels given prime slots on the Pitti schedule this season to showcase their fall 2017 collections.
Coppens held his Pitti runway show at a somewhat run-down horseracing track on the edge of town. (He also streamed it to Instagram Live, one of the first designers to do so, according to his publicists.) The setting was a good match for his men's and women's collections, presented together, both of which rode a post-apocalyptic, future-moto vibe all the way down to giant sunglasses made with Berlin-based eyewear company Mykita. There was a lot going on over the course of 43 looks, but some of the strongest were the simplest. To describe this shirt [first look in above gallery] — it's a perforated mesh, color-blocked, long-sleeve polo — makes it seem complicated, but the effect is easy to wear, especially when paired with straightforward black pants.
"Florence is the menswear capital of the world," Hilfiger told Fashionista at his cocktail party at the lavish Palazzo Corsini, where he presented his fall 2017 Edition collection alongside some high-profile millennial influencers. He used the opportunity to showcase a new, oversize silhouette that he says reflects how young people dress today (and that he admitted to the New York Times was inspired by of-the-moment French label Vetements). Still, some of the strongest pieces were those that weren't too far out of his usual wheelhouse, like this double-breasted coat with a plaid shoulder patch [first look in gallery].
Cottweiler for Reebok
Cottweiler had only shown its own fall collection a few days before during London Fashion Week: Men's, but designers Matthew Dainty and Ben Cottrell still had it in them to debut their latest partnership with Reebok on the final night of Pitti. Guests previewed the capsule collection on the lower level of the Museo Marino Marini, a fairly spooky setting that mixes old and new architectural elements. The effect, especially at night, is that of a well-funded crypt. Dainty and Cottrell apparently chose the space for its tranquility, though, as the Cottweiler for Reebok line was inspired by sports aftercare. (A model that I thought looked dead was apparently just having a spa day in a salt bath.) The collection was largely all-white, but a plastic pullover with subtle lace-up detailing [first look in gallery] stole the show.
PS by Paul Smith
Back in 1993, Britain's Paul Smith was the first designer to stage a runway show at Florence's Stazione Leopoldo, which has since become a regular venue for shows during Pitti. When given the opportunity to show the latest from his "newly redefined" diffusion line PS by Paul Smith here, he decided to go with a different format: acrobats and dance-battlers. The collection was modeled by an eight-man English dance troupe, who gyrated and did a complicated robot across a series of pedestals to demonstrate that these clothes were made for an active lifestyle. There were packable jackets and reversible coats and pants with enough stretch to allow one particularly flexible gentleman to do a handstand split about five feet from my face. Smith loves cycling, and you could imagine wearing these casual pieces on a weekend jaunt through Hyde Park. I don't recommend balancing upside-down on your friend's head, a move two models made look easy. But, the polka-dot, cropped rain jacket they wore while doing so [first look in gallery] was pretty nice.
One of the best things about going to a place like Florence is looking at what the city's residents wear while they're out walking to work or running errands around town. There's something very specific about the way a well-dressed Italian puts together an outfit, and it seems to be just that: it's well put-together. When it's cold, the topcoats alone are a feast for the eyes. There were plenty of outerwear pieces in the Sansovino 6 show that were worthy of the city's most stylish residents. Designer Edward Buchanan is an American based in Milan with an expertise in knitwear. His fall collection was luxe and comfy, an ideal combination. The diversity of models on his runway — including a fellow Milan-based designer, Marcelo Burlon — was also nice to see. The coat Burlon wore paired with a baggy cardigan was the definition of #cozygoals, but it was a wide-leg suit with a checked topcoat [first look in gallery] that earned top marks.