Much has been written about the so-called Pitti Peacocks, the men — and a few women — found strutting around the Pitti Uomo trade fair in Florence, Italy, each season, lavishly dressed in perfectly appointed three-piece suits and abundant accessories. They have become as reliable in the city as unreliable wifi.
Even as temperatures reached the 90s and stayed there at the Spring/Summer 2018 edition of Pitti held last week, the peacocks — their identities and occupations often vague — were preening before photographers under the unrelenting sun. One wore an Ikea cummerbund; at least one other was spotted in a cashmere turtleneck underneath a double-breasted wool blazer. Their commitment to a look is so strong that you can imagine, in a post-apocalyptic, dystopian future, Pitti Peacocks will identify one another by face-scarves made of the finest Italian silk and the clinking of their turquoise rings echoing across the arid desert wasteland formerly known as Tuscany.
If that sounds bleak for a Monday, sorry! But, the good news is, there was a lot more to see at the fair than streetstyle thirst traps. Here are some highlights from the designers who brought their latest men's wares to Italy for Pitti Uomo 92.
As a general rule, I'm morally opposed to showing anything on the runway that you might wear to Six Flags. That's not what we're here for. But at the J.W. Anderson show, held outdoors on the grounds of the stunning Villa La Pietra overlooking the city, came look number 2, a plain white T-shirt, simple khaki shorts, and flip-flops (albeit studded ones). More surprising than one of the most eccentric and left-of-center-leaning designers in menswear offering up the most basic of basic looks at such a highly anticipated show is that its inclusion made sense. Anderson's Pitti presentation was something of a coming out party as a designer who can make a collection nearly entirely composed of wearable clothing — a collaboration with Converse drove that newfound democratic POV home, too. With the exception of that plain tee and shorts combo, the designs were still interesting, clever, and covetable, especially a series of beautiful moto jackets. And trust: that heart print Anderson sprinkled throughout will be everywhere once this collection hits stores.
Next to Anderson, Virgil Abloh's Off-White was the week's buzziest show. Abloh collaborated with the artist Jenny Holzer — a previous creative partner with Helmut Lang who is known for her text-based works — and revealed beforehand that he would be using his platform to make a political statement. Hundreds of guests squeezed into risers facing the city's iconic Palazzo Pitti, upon which Holzer projected two columns of scrolling text before and throughout the runway show, highlighting the written work of refugee poets and writers. Abloh said his collection was inspired by his father's journey from Ghana to the U.S. and also referenced the current Syrian refugee crisis. The statement and setting nearly swallowed the clothes, but there were highlights, including some soft tailoring in the form of jackets paired with billowing, wide-leg trousers, collabs with Vans and Timberland, and red sunglasses that, with any justice, could become as ubiquitous as those Adam Selman Le Specs shades all the Instagirls have.
Have more menswear designers loved making anything that most guys don't wear as much as they love crafting sheer shirts? It's a question the collection from Japanese designer Yoshio Kubo raised again, as visible nip after visible nip greeted the crowd gathered at Stazione Leopoldo. There were non-mesh shirts, too, although don't mistake opacity for modesty; this collection was built for men who want a little flash. Sometimes that was literal, with metallic fabric put to use in a bomber jacket, a pair of shorts, and a kimono of sorts. The strongest pieces, though, might be the shirts and coats in intricate, multihued prints, especially those with blue dye that bled into red stripes. You'd certainly be seen wearing that, even if your chest hair wouldn't be.
Italian designer Federico Curradi made his runway debut in Milan in January, but shifted to Pitti this season, closer to his homebase in the Tuscan countryside. Florence is known for marbled and paisley papercraft, and some prints that resembled those patterns were found here, along with draped shirts and sweaters dyed in a watercolor-like effect that added to the dreamy air of the collection. Models were barefoot, as they were in Curradi's Milan show and looked as though they had just arrived from a lazy afternoon guzzling red wine and eating cheese in a field — a vibe that is attractive and aspirational in its own right. If "meadowwear" is not yet a legitimate category of clothing, Curradi suggests that maybe it should be.
Richard James, the tailors from London's Savile Row, didn't have a show at Pitti Uomo this year. Fresh off of a presentation during London Fashion Week, the brand held court in a booth inside one of Pitti's sprawling exhibition pavilions, among many other labels offering traditional men's suiting for the grown and moneyed. But, their Spring '18 collection stood out with a preppy, 1950s-inspired collection that referenced the American artist Ellsworth Kelly. It was easy and breezy — not descriptors typically associated with classic suits — and had enough pieces, like a raglan-sleeve bomber and a knit polo, that could be pulled out and worn with more contemporary-looking items, too, if occasionally dressing like you're Don Draper four dark 'n' stormy's deep at a clambake isn't your thing. (But also: why isn't that occasionally your thing?)