When at Pitti

Some thoughts about the different aspects presented in the performances and in the imagery found in this particular men’s fashion fair: the cultural or subcultural aspect (spectacular aspect in subcultures), the economic (the promise for constant growth vs the growing group of creative pioneers in sustainability vs consumerism and commodification in the creative economy), the sociological (from covert male subcultures to overt bohemian dandyisms: the fair as a marketplace for the singularized postmodern individuals) and the aesthetic implications within these realms, domains, spheres, arenas, theater stages, performing stages. It’s a man’s world, but it would be nothing without a woman .,.

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(c) Nicoletta Subitoni Photographer

To live in a postindustrial postmodern economy implies adjusting to constant change. The challenges lie in the creativity imperative we submit to by accepting the rules of the creative economy. These are the premises to visiting this rather unique fashion fair.

The Pitti uomo in Florence is a fashion fair, men only. Walking your daily way to work you may wonder, what’s the impact of such an event on your kin. In our daily life, carefully or well dressed men are a rare find. Most seem not to care at all. Most 40 to 50 something seem to put on their twenty something sons wardrobe and forget, that in no way they can or should be like in their twenties anyway. So what’s the purpose when visiting this fashion fair? Is there any or maybe more then one? Checking out new trends? No. Looking at men dressed in a way you think your in a cosplay fair? No. Trying to describe the visual impact is easy, the eyes get the primary sensory input. The fair is first of all overwhelming barocque in the colors, styles and performances, it’s like visiting a Venetian carnival in some ways. So you have to prepare your soul, your spirit, your eyes and most of all your knowledge regarding the psychological meanings and impact of images you’ll get presented with. It’s a feast for your eyes. This tableau (color palette, theatre stage) is not the part of the fair meant for the buyers, it’s not the fair for the small community of fashion theorists and the sartorial community, enthusiasts, it’s the fair for the new bohemians, it’s their stage to perform their best, to show their unworldly costumes and the life associated with, the live you’re supposed to live when living in them. You may ask if the Florentine ancestors would have instigated with their spirit still vivid in the small streets in the city all those colorful aesthetics and representative poses. It surely could. The bottom line to this is:

We can find two central narratives in the contemporary menswear industry regarding the cultural history and socialization of men:

The Dorian gray / Oscar Wilde narrative and the Ernest Hemingway / the old man and the sea narrative.

The narrators present themselves in a neat opposition amongst them regarding their stand towards the consumption of goods, commodification of rituals, sourcing of materials and social positioning.

Once you identified these two narratives (made your way through this curtain) you can start to uncover the multifaceted realm of contemporary menswear production. The fact that the basics in men’s fashion hardly changed since the early 1930is is no wonder. The formal suit and the everyday workwear form the core pieces around which every designer shapes his collection. No need to experiment in underwear or accessories. This is also the realm where street stylists, researchers and passionate aesthetics come together to talk about the strings that tie together the future and the past.

Thankful and honored for their wisdom, open hearts and inspiration: Francesca Interlenghi, Gerold Brenner, Nick Clements.

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