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Suzy Menkes Международный редактор VOGUE

Florence: Art At The Heart

18 июня 2016

THE MANIC SCRIBBLES of a Jackson Pollock pattern on a necktie, photographs by Robert Mapplethorpe printed on Raf Simons outfits, and intense handwork from students at the Polimoda Fashion School… Art is at the heart of fashion in Florence this season.

Raf Simons' S/S 2017 collection featured photographic prints by Robert Mapplethorpe Picture credit: Raf Simons

Displayed in majestic Renaissance buildings or, in contrast, a derelict 20th-century train station or Fascist-era factory, the shows had an urgency that was rooted in menswear, but encompassed the current fashion move for merged genders. The result? The presentations that surrounded Pitti Uomo, Florence's mighty menswear trade show, were much more powerful than an appendage to the main act.

Raf Simons: Celebrating two decades of style
Raf Simons applies final checks to his models before sending them down the runway at his Spring/Summer 2017 show at Pitti Uomo Picture credit: Raf Simons

"Twenty years… I didn't tell anyone, but I wanted them [the clothes from the past] to be like fragments, looking like a gathering of people," Raf explained, describing the vintage mannequins on the vast floor space where his show was held. He called them "puppets" and they appeared like ghostly figures under the iron scaffolding in the empty space that was once the Stazione Leopolda.

An installation of vintage mannequins displayed pieces from the Raf Simons archive Picture credit: @SuzyMenkesVogue

So many mannequins had originally been intended for female clothing, so the result was to make Simons seem clairvoyant about mix-gender clothes in his early menswear collections.

Oversize cuts and asymmetry were key motifs of the S/S 2017 collection Picture credit: Raf Simons

The menswear for Spring/Summer 2017 could not have seemed further from even Raf's most avant-garde offerings for Dior. The cuts were over-size, asymmetric, off-kilter and would often slip up off the shoulder to reveal a photographic print of Laurie Anderson, David Bowie or Debby Harry as Blondie, but primarily the work of Robert Mapplethorpe.

An ensemble with a Laurie Anderson print Picture credit: Raf Simons

These photographs also appeared at the side of the body or the hem of roomy shirts - perhaps a prequel of what Raf might be thinking in his rumoured new role as Creative Director at Calvin Klein.

A Mapplethorpe print on an apron-front top Picture credit: Raf Simons

Whatever the thought process, the show - with its electronic music from Jean-Michel Jarre and also the stately strings of Henry Purcell, re-worked in the 1980. The different musical experiences both suggested angst and urgency. 

Talking to Raf at the after-show dinner on a long refectory table in one of Florence's hidden cloisters, I remembered his earliest collections of boys as young as he was then; of his first time at Pitti eleven years ago, with the models striding down the hillock in the Boboli  Gardens.  He is a powerful and thoughtful menswear designer. And that is what he delivered in Florence.

Raf soaks up the applause at the finale of his S/S 2017 show at Pitti Uomo Picture credit: Raf Simons
Gosha Rubchinskiy: truth of youth

The frightening, but compelling, video of "A Day in the Death" of a post-Soviet young man seemed to summarise the inspiration of Gosha Rubchinskiy, the Russian designer who seems to reflect the truth of today's youth.

Gosha Rubchinskiy referenced Eighties logos in his show, presented at an abandoned factory in Florence Picture credit: @SuzyMenkesVogue

Hooked on football - expressed in references to tribes from the past, such as the 1980s Fila logo - Gosha's message was clearly expressed before a single scarlet or yellow sweatshirt and joggers arrived on the circular, outdoor runway space.

Rubchinskiy's models were chosen from Instagram Picture credit: @SuzyMenkesVogue

In front of the audience was an abandoned cigarette factory from Italy's period of monumental Fascist architecture. This setting and the skinny teen "models" chosen from Instagram, increased the feeling of purposeful anger and even violence that was embedded in the video of an ugly Soviet world.

Rubchinskiy celebrates the street looks of Eastern Europe in the wake of the Soviet Union's collapse in the Nineties Picture credit: Gosha Rubchinskiy

Since the logos were mainly in Cyrillic lettering, I could not fathom, only feel, what was spelled out. But there were some clothes a step away from sportswear: suits and jackets, hanging on wirey bodies, as if borrowing outfits from an elder brother's closet.

Picture credit: Gosha Rubchinskiy

Since Gosha's raw talent was spotted and supported  by Adrian Joffe of Comme des Garçons and Dover Street Market,  the Russian designer has built a cult following. And this strong show will only increase his power.

Adrian Joffe of Dover Street Market (left), with actress Renata Litvinova and Gosha Rubchinskiy Picture credit: @SuzyMenkesVogue
Fausto PuglisiI: unisex gladiators
Fausto Puglisi's Spring/Summer 2017 show featured tough his'n'hers looks softened by floral fabrics Picture credit: @SuzyMenkesVogue

Is the menswear world ready for Fausto Puglisi's world of seductive women with gladiator references? The designer believes so, and his colourful creations, competing with body-covering tattoos, produced a unique his'n'hers look. In a presentation that had his women flicking their circular skirts and stretching their patterned leggings in the direction of males who, Fausto said, had been cast for the part from ex-convicts, the outfits made a powerful statement. But too much of the show looked like costume, rather than credible male clothing.

Fausto's tattooed models resembled 21st-century gladiators Picture credit: @SuzyMenkesVogue
Сьюзи Менкес · мужская мода ·