Every season the guest designer at Pitti Uomo, the bi-annual tradeshow Florence, sets the tone and marks the start of the official menswear calendar.
This season the honor fell to Martine Rose, the influential London-based menswear designer who had never before shown outside of the UK. For her big debut, Rose looked to Italo house music, which had washed over England in the 1980s and early ‘90s became defining for the British club scene of the time.
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The show, dedicated to the local community of Florence, paid homage to that era’s louche nightclubbing environment. (Italo inspired Balearic beat and scored the Italian dance floors of the late ‘70s, putting Italian music culture on a global stage.)
The show took place within the loggia of the Mercato Nuovo and was channeled the New Wave bands from Bologna and Italian club tracks from the '70s to now. A cast of Calcio Fiorentino footballers, everyday Florentines and friends of the brand from London stormed the runway.
Toy clothes were warped and wonky with stiff necklines and rigid cuts. There were overstuffed bubblegum puffer jackets, Western clothes with fringe, super low-rise bootcut jeans and knitwear in boiled merino cables, ultra-light fair isle mesh tops and fuzzy brushed merino kid mohair.
The shoes were warped archetypes of the classic men’s wardrobe: traditional gentleman’s boots and slippers had snout- or bulb-shaped toes with a square construction of chain-adorned loafers. Collaborations included her ongoing project with Nike — new blue and black colorway of the Shox MR4 trainer — as well as a range of UGG slippers hand-dyed for a club-era effect.
“When you think about rebellion and the rebels of the 80s and 90s, you envision power and a stance about them," Rose said of the UGG collab. "The shoes you wear transport you to new opportunities, new parties, new environments. Strength starts from the ground up, here I wanted to add a touch of softness to the feet.
Rose, who was rumored to be in consideration for the men's opening at Louis Vuitton and is adored by legions of music fashions (including Skepta and Kendrick Lamar), provided an escapist moment of fun and release in Florence as the menswear circuit takes off this season.
Photos courtesy of Martine Rose
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