Rikesh Chauhan heads to Florence for another edition of the iconic sartorial showcase, Pitti Uomo
It’s been over two years since I last travelled to Florence for Pitti Uomo. In fact, the last time I left the UK in general was for Pitti, all the way back in January 2020. As soon as our feet touched the ground back in London from that trip, we went into lockdown and subsequently remained landlocked. There were many things besides the trade show I was eagerly looking forward to when it came to the prospect of finally returning: bistecca the size of my head; copious negronis at Harry’s Bar followed by walks along the River Arno; photographing any and every corner of Florence; and seeing old friends with shared passions.
While Pitti technically restarted back in June last year, it never really felt like it was back in all its glory. All roads were leading to January of this year for the return to form, right up until it was announced that a new form of Covid was sweeping the country. In the build up to the trip, paperwork increased, tests were frequent and, frustratingly, all of the events (which is arguably what makes Pitti Uomo such a joy) were cancelled. And it wasn’t just the leisure that was affected.
Several brands, notably from South Korea, the United Kingdom and Japan, opted not to showcase, while others that initially were on the cards, pulled out — names including Brunello Cucinelli, Johnstons of Elgin and Ann Demeulemeester were significant blows for a tradeshow that has been aching to get back on track. Up until the day before the flight out to Florence, there were rumours that the entire show was going to be postponed. Alas, the staffers at Pitti Immagine are anything if not determined. The show must go on, and go on it did.
It may not have had all the brands one would expect to find, but it wasn’t lacking in any stretch of the imagination. The Fortezza da Basso was decked out with some of the finest names in menswear from across the world (although the large majority were of the European contingent). Green passes were an essential to access the venue (and anywhere in Italy, really), and added security measures were taken to ensure masks were worn at all times — and strictly KN95 masks, which was slightly disappointing as my colourful striped mask from Rowing Blazers is nothing short of epic and yet never saw the light of day. But I’ll get over it in time.
There was an air of optimism as we walked into the Fortezza, which was helped by the unusually warm temperature: while Milan and London were dipping into negative figures, Florence remained around the 10 degree mark. This allowed layering to remain at its best, without having to compromise. It’s always a shame when an overcoat conceals an entire outfit. The beauty of layering means menswear and tailoring aficionados can discuss fabrics, weights and colours with an unbridled passion, knowing they were in good company.
Due to a smaller showing, a lot of my favourite looks from this season remained within the classic vicinity — Fabio Coruzzolo of Anglo-Italian Company can do no wrong in my opinion. His look was simplistic and subtle, something that is a lot harder to pull off than one would imagine. Meanwhile, Götrich’s Simon Berg utilised contrasting colours to provide coherence and a genuine eye-catching ensemble in all the right ways. But it wasn’t just the men setting the standards. Gaia Rialti of Menabòh was just as effortless as tailoring royalty, Anda Rowland of Anderson & Sheppard.
Although this season’s Pitti wasn’t back to its best due to Covid-related restrictions, the surprisingly high attendance and camaraderie shared between brands, buyers and visitors makes me optimistic about the year ahead. Come June, when the summer edition is slated to take place, I hope events are a possibility and we get to be reunited with the rest of the world. There’s no place quite like Florence, and there’s no event quite like Pitti Uomo.