The Return of the Peacocks – The New York Times

FLORENCE, Italy – Darwin hated peacocks. The sight of just one of their feathers made him sick. (True, he was a hypochondriac.) Yet the man who described the laws of natural selection well understood the evolutionary purpose of demonstrations which, in humans, are often dismissed as mere vanity. The same goes for the peacocks who historically flock to European menswear fairs and congregate at the major menswear fair, Pitti Uomo.

“I don’t usually indulge in sentimentality,” said Raffaello Napoleone, managing director of Pitti Imagine, the fair’s parent group, at the end of June, as he reviewed the number of men (and they were for the most men) returning to an event which, like many Italian companies, had been all but canceled by the pandemic. “We have managed to keep around 10,000 people safe. So I see this as a symbolic or real reboot for the entire Italian fashion system. “

The peacocks seemed to agree.

“Pitti is this great opportunity to once again express my individuality and my vanity, but as a strong and positive provocative message,” said Antonio Gramazio, a Florentine hairdresser with a shaved head, a neat beard and sunglasses with glasses the size of saucers. Mr Gramazio, 36, had stepped out for the second day of the fair wearing a double-breasted white silk blazer worn over a pleated skirt from one of the second-hand clothing shops that seem to abound in Florence . At her feet were Zara’s vintage taupe suede pumps.

“Men are starting to feel more comfortable emphasizing their feminine side,” Mr. Gramazio said, downplaying the case somewhat. “Above all, my gaze must be free.

Cold relaxation, if not exactly liberation, characterized the latest edition of Pitti Uomo where in place of the social media label demons who tend to parade for street photographers in matching Gucci outfits (mules, bags, hats and pajamas) or patterned shorts, we saw plenty of men improvising on what they already had in their closets or dressing in things they had bought second-hand or made themselves.

“I dress like this every day, every morning,” said Christian Degennaro, 31, editor at Switch, a digital lifestyle publication.

While he’s unlikely to please the heart of a Pitti Uomo exhibitor (not a stitch he wore was bought in a store, other than his Yankees cap), Mr. Degennaro – a fringed cowboy shirt, gray insurance adjustment pants, and obligatory Nikes – captured the spirit of fashion’s most vaporous terms. It was directional.

Management had less to do with clothing trends than a major attitude change. In the Puritan West, the pursuit of sartorial beauty has almost always been linked to the mortal sin of pride. Still, pride does have its uses, especially when we’re trying to relearn what it’s like to find ourselves in real life after far too many months of having disembodied heads floating against shimmering Google backgrounds.

“I totally believe in vanity,” Mr. Degennaro said. “But, in the sense that you have to be proud of yourself and the way you leave the house in the morning, the way you take care of yourself, the way you present yourself in public.”

His friend Emanuele Tumidei intervened. “There is a real difference between confidence and pure ego,” said Mr. Tumidei, a designer who had created his own crotch jeans with deep cuffs and a laser-printed vest / apron. (His mounted police hat and stylish t-shirt were Internet finds.)

“Vanity is a double-edged sword,” said Tumidei, who is in his 30s. “It’s important to love yourself. It’s only bad when you start to love yourself a little too much.

Just days before Pitti Uomo’s debut, a Hermès men’s fashion show had closed the official return of Fashion Week to Paris (Giorgio Armani in Milan, who preceded him, gets the credit for the kickoff) and an enthusiastic return of both an industry and a pursuit which, despite all its shortcomings, remains one of the most powerful engines of contemporary culture.

Almost no area of ​​modern life is untouched by fashion, as anyone who even knows TikTok, hip-hop, YouTube, or the NBA might tell you at a glance. As the pandemic has pushed the world inside for more security, an evolving desire to smooth out has proven difficult to quell.

Behind the scenes of a national furniture depot on the outskirts of Paris, Hermès designer Véronique Nichanian said: “We are all ready to meet again.

Either way, when we do, we’re wearing the super-refined versions so largely inaccessible (by mere mortals) of Ms. Nichanian’s wardrobe staples – many of which are made using the fashionable precepts of recycling. – there is no doubt that everyone, regardless of sex or gender, is sick with dull pandemic plumage.

“In the middle of the pandemic, we approached Patrick Boucheron and asked him to think about the lessons that this plague will teach us”, told this journalist Axel Dumas, the descendant of the Hermès-Dumas dynasty, trained at the Sorbonne, then as the guests gathered for the outdoors. show. M. Dumas spoke of a fashionable scholar of medieval history. “He said that when we come out of there, we will have to reinvent beauty,” he said.

This idea was as encouraging as it was welcome. And perhaps this influenced the lens through which this particular watcher entered Florence, where twice a year the males of the species congregate for an event the enforced absence of which made Pitti Uomo look like one of those rare and beautiful endangered natural phenomena – like the migrating monarch butterfly.

“Being too comfortable in your clothes is kind of a trap,” Cosimo Innocenti, a 20-year-old student, told the Pitti Uomo reporter.

Getting caught up in your own effect also comes with its own set of pitfalls. Still, there was something beautiful about seeing a young man like Mr. Innocenti in the sub-Saharan heat forgo comfort for style as he strolled through the fair grounds in a chalk-striped summer suit. , her hands capped with silver rings and a casually cocked fedora on her durag.

“Honestly, elegance at the end of the day is in the heart,” said Defustel Ndjoko, 45, an extremely stylish designer from Cameroon. “The exterior is only a small part of it.”

Mr Ndjoko’s point of view was shared by Luca Lisandroni, 42, co-managing director of luxury goods supplier Brunello Cucinelli, who made a commitment to Pitti Uomo’s future by setting up his usual lavish booth despite having shown his collection of men’s clothing weeks earlier in Milan. .

“I don’t see it as vanity to take care of your appearance and dress properly,” said Lisandroni, whose impeccable outfit was far, he said, from his pandemic wardrobe. “I spent 28 days alone in the apartment, so it’s a magical moment to have a reason to get dressed. I didn’t even wear underwear, to be honest. But two years of hoodies and sweatpants is enough.

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