With Pitti Uomo now firmly embedded as a must-stop on the menswear fashion calendar, the Florence-based tradeshow is a breath of fresh air between the show-heavy major fashion weeks. This year's Pitti drew three special guests; J W Anderson, Off-White, and HUGO (by Hugo Boss), with inspirations ranging from the voodoo street art of Jean Michel Basquiat, to bold political commentary on migration and war.
Milan Men's Fashion Week saw the return of veterans Prada and Fendi as highlights of the week, with Fendi exploring 70's-esque executive realness and Prada taking influences from the dualities of the real world and the virtual world. There was also a flurry of younger urban labels offering up solid sportswear-infused collections, including Palm Angel's who alluded to LA's laid-back surf culture and Sunnei who looked to nostalgia and whimsical spontaneity for their inspiration.
PITTI UOMO 92
The collaboration continues between Pitti Uomo and the Japan Fashion Week Organization, with a two year partnership that aims to focus on the most promising talents in the Japanese fashion scene. Showcasing this year at Pitti was Yoshiokubo, founded by designer Yoshio Kubo, which brought a sense of nomadic-chic to the Italian runway. The collection featured jackets, coats, trouser and tops with Japanese warrior and Samurai inspired cuts and silhouettes, as well and metallic rose-gold kimonos, wide cropped mesh tees, flowy linen trousers and patterned tailored suits with an unique draping elements. These was expertly infused with a blend of Indonesian Batik and Rajastani Sanganer inspired prints, amongst other floral motifs and patterns.
There was a subtle underpinning of 90’s nostalgia for Hugo Boss’ SS18 collection, featuring delicate spaghetti-strap slip dresses, chokers, drawstring pulls and piercing details. Inspired by 80’s street artist, Jean Michel Basquiat, the collection took on the painter’s wildly artistic spirit, with colourful scribble patterns and motifs printed on mesh or hand-painted on sheer silks, and leather overcoats encrusted with cracked white paint finishes. Citing Basquiat’s particular appreciation for all things Wicca and Voodoo, Boss teamed up with new kid on the block, Charles Jefferey LOVERBOY, to produce the unique prints, who brought an extra carefree attitude and heightened creative spirit (for which he is known for) to the collection. Although clothes were carefully and sleekly cut, unstructured shoulders, relaxed fits, purposeful creases and casual layering all added to casting the models in a nonconformist artistic light.
J W ANDERSON
This season marked a clear shift for J W Anderson - who is celebrated for his avant-garde conceptualism - opting for more wearable wardrobe essentials this time around. A fixture of London Fashion week, this was Anderson’s first showing abroad as a special guest of Pitti Uomo Florence, and although his playful, surreal streak was still alive and well, the collection felt a touch more personal and unassuming than usual. It boasted matching shirt and short sets printed all-over with primary colour hearts, and thick-knit vests, sweaters and oversized bags that softened the masculinity of the looks with a rustic edge. Not just a line of elevated basics however, many of the pieces also had a bold Americana aesthetic and questioned the idea of branded goods, featuring Pop-Art elements, Warhol-style prints and vintage packaging motifs and typography.
A special guest of this year’s Pitti, label du moment, OFF-WHITE, helmed by fashion disruptor Virgil Abloh, had a crisp political undercurrent to its SS18 collection, which was manifested through the clothing as well as the no-holds-barred runway display. The set-up was in collaboration with neo-conceptual artist Jenny Holzer, who is famed for her politically and conceptually fueled slogan projections. Words and phrases in bold typefaces were projected onto the runway wall and floor - referencing war, migration and the pricelessness of man - dwarfing the models as they paraded each of the looks. The label, which has become synonymous with streetwear in it’s most artistic form, had elements of tailoring laced throughout the collection - perhaps a nod to Italy’s rich tailoring legacy. Edgy jackets were given a nudge of formal structure and relaxed shirts received oversized collars. An infusion of warning bright orange appeared on shoes, hoods, zippers, sunglasses and bags - a colour reminiscent of life vests and lifeboats as a potential slant towards the crisis of immigrants fleeing by sea. Abloh, who grew up the son of an immigrant from Ghana, used the showcase to address and comment on volatile events occurring beyond fashion - an outspoken approach keeping his label one of the most relevant and forward-thinking in the industry.
MILAN MEN’S FASHION WEEK SS18
The highlight of this season’s Milan Men’s shows was none other than Fendi, who offered up a collection heavily imbued with the 70’s-esque sensibility of ‘Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas’. Sheer madras suiting with suspenders and ties worn nonchalantly made for a modern update to business attire. The collection, which was served in retro-chic shades of biscuit, blush pink, and mint green, was further elevated to contemporary status with sportswear staples such as caps with leather brims, shiny knee length hooded parkas, nylon bomber jackets, backpacks, denim jackets and silk shirts decorated with holiday motifs, for a hint of elegant weekend escapism. Woven throughout the collection (appliquéd to the back of jackets or on shirt fronts and pockets) were embroidered motifs of banal objects illustrated by artist Sue Tilley - such as cups of coffee, lamps, bananas and bottle openers - adding a touch of playfulness and spontaneity to the otherwise highly tailored and sophisticated collection.
Helmed by artistic director turned designer, Francesco Ragazzi, urban label, Palm Angels, debuted a solid SS18 collection, rooted in the laissez-faire attitude of sun-soaked, LA surf culture. The collection featured strong sportswear infused staples including nylon drawstring shorts, cropped wind jackets, kimono-style tees, matching nylon tracksuits, duster coats, bucket hats, sunshade caps and flared armed hoodies, all with lashing of dark, gothic twists, signature to the young streetwear brand. The surf/street inspired pieces were further pulled together with palm tree island motifs, zip-up tops and bodysuits fashioned from scuba diving material, waists tightly cinched with nylon belts with long dangling straps, and graphic Palm Angel logos cropping up in geometric patterns, and boldly labeling each of the pieces in true sportswear fashion.
There was a real pang of nostalgia and whimsical spontaneity for Sunnei’s SS18 collection which used Myspace founder Tom Anderson as their muse. The label, known for its youth-centric, artsy irreverence and quirky approach to street style wardrobe staples, continued their signature of off-kilter shapes and a laidback-cool schoolboy-esque sensibility. Roomy drawstring trousers, plasticized denim overcoats, striped and checkered oversized V-neck t-shirts, loosely fitted suits and slouchy two-piece denim ensembles were presented with graphic tees displaying photographs of their Myspace muse. "For us, this is an expression of total freedom," said designer Rizzo of the collection.
For their SS18 collection, Prada looked to graphic novels for inspiration, creating a dialogue between the virtual world and the real world. Enlisting the illustration skills of multi-disciplinary artists James Jean from Los Angeles and Ollie Schrauwen of Belgium, the label commissioned them to create graphic stories that covered the walls of the runway and were translated into unique prints for the collection. The backdrop included scenes of robot monkeys, giant spiders and abandoned cityscapes. Miuccia Prada was drawn to the way comics turn out bite-sized pieces of information, much like the way social media reveals little fragments of life. The contrast of dual realities was explored through utilitarian nylon jumpsuits, boiler suits and rompers, and matching sportswear inspired two-piece ensembles. These were worn with velcro strap trainers, homespun-looking knits, heavy overcoats and short-sleeved comic print shirts. Model’s wore wide collars upturned throughout the collection, in the style of retro futurist cartoon ‘The Jetsons’, with garments appearing in grounded shades of beige, navy and grey, with blocks of poppy red and aqua blue adding to the collection's playful edge.