Crossing design disciplines comes easily to creative director Carlo Brandelli, and the latest example of his interdisciplinary prowess is Pitti Uomo's S/S 2016 'designer project', having been extended carte blanche by the Firenze men's fashion fair to flex his creativity.
'For me Florence is the sculpture capital of the world,' explains the Italian designer, standing within the central courtyard of the original Medici ancestral home, now a museum. 'There are bronzed sculptures everywhere and of course many of them are without clothing, so I started to think about what I could do and how an installation could work.' Brandelli's sculptural response is an ambitious artwork composed of 3-metre sheets of glass and mirror that refract the same exacting geometry as his bespoke tailoring. 'It's quite rare for somebody to give you this type of freedom,' he adds of the open brief and resulting installation that will provide the backdrop for his S/S 2016 collection campaign.
Titled 'Reflective 3', the project's inception was a familiar architectural blueprint: 'It's partly a homage to the paper pattern', he explains of the cartamodello that is also the backbone of his Savile Row atelier. This Florentine work leads on from 'Reflective 1', a film project with photographer Nick Knight for Kilgour's rebirth, and 'Reflective 2', which set the scene for an earlier brand campaign.
The commanding 6 x 6 metre square unites 20 rectangular glass panels, encased by 25 bronze mirrored podiums, and explores the notions of reflection, transparency and narcissism. 'Questioning the idea of image, and what man is and what man should be,' he elaborates, adding, 'Transparency is also key to the S/S 2016 collection: this idea of perforation and light', seen through his sherbet hued mohair tailoring.
With colour crowned as the official theme of this season's Pitti parade, Brandelli captures a spectrum of natural pigments - from the salmon pink of the Florentine sunset over Ponte Vecchio to the field green of the Tuscan hinterland - within the piece's giant glass sheets. 'It becomes something else when the sun hits it,' he says, pulling out a series of iPhones films from earlier that day, which capture its environmental immersion from the morning's rain shower to the afternoon's penetrating rays.
'It's not site specific,' Brandelli adds of the work's modular components, 'because the dimensions are variable, but I did produce the geometry to be correct for the space. This is a perfect 12-metre,' he says of Brunelleschi's courtyard blueprint. 'He was obsessed with detail, so this is a perfect 6-metre geometry. It is very accurate.'
As it turns out, art was Brandelli's first obsession: 'I wanted to be a sculptor when I started to do any kind of work,' he continues, rather in awe of the fact that Donatello's 'David' once commanded the same space. 'But the first things that I made were about fabric, that's how it all happened. I made more, and more and then it lead to a collection. To me whether objects or material - it's the same - it's about having good geometry.'