Hot tickets: the designers getting our temperatures rising at Pitti Uomo 2018

Pitti Uomo guest designer JW Anderson showed his S/S 2018 collection at the spectacular Villa La Pietra.
(Image credit: press)

Like the soaring temperatures in Florence, the biannual Pitti Uomo trade fair, now in its 92nd edition, rose in global excellence this week, its rotating roll-out of international designer guests featuring London designer JW Anderson, German label Hugo Boss, who presented its younger counterpart label Hugo, and Virgil Abloh’s New York-based label Off-White. Abloh’s show marked a moving collaboration with Jenny Holzer, who recently worked on a limited-edition cover for our July issue (W*220).

Guests were also treated to Christian Louboutin’s staging of a Bike Polo tournament in the centre of the city, and even popped to a sneak preview of ‘The Ephemeral Museum of Fashion’. The exhibition, held in the spaces of the Galleria del Costume of Palazzo Pitti, and curated by Olivier Saillard, features nearly 200 pieces from the 19th century to present day, by designers including House of Worth and Gucci.

Hugo's collection

Hugo's collection drew inspiration from the concept of the artist as an outsider

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In fitting with Hugo Boss' guest status, Bart De Backer, senior head of Hugo menswear design, and Jenny Swank Krasteva, Hugo Woman senior head of creative, explored the status of the artist as an outsider for the label's S/S 2018 collection. The nighttime show, housed in a huge disused cigar factory, featured a long concrete catwalk sprayed with graffiti and illuminated with hundreds of suspended candles. The space was fittingly bedecked with brushstrokes and sketches, while the collection – featuring artful raw edges and loosely tied floral motifs, overall silhouettes and loose coats – veered towards an arty palette of of neutral shades and splashes of bright yellow, Hugo red and blue.

‘When we were working on the collection, we found a lot of photographs of Basquiat wearing designer brands,’ the Hugo designers explained. ‘He was wearing them in a very unconventional, non-precious way. This image of the artist wandering around in his own bubble, creating his own fashion aesthetic, was the starting point.’ This sense of personal style culminated in a play with proportion – for men, doodle print bags were blown up to XL size and for women, embroidery details had a DIY edge. The collection itself acted as a canvas for the London designer Charles Jeffrey LOVERBOY, whose prints featured on mesh t-shirts and hand-painted organza dresses. ‘His unique style and strong vision of things fits in so well with the ideas and DNA of Hugo,’ De Backer and Krasteva explain.

From an emerging London label to a renowned name on its schedule, JW Anderson presented his Pitti debut in the gardens of a Villa La Pietra, a Renaissance villa in the hills outside Florence. Guests walked through its gardens, populated with lemon trees, topiary and geometric flower beds, before nestling on the floor on cushions. Behind them in the evening sun, stood grand figurative sculptures covered with dust sheets, and on the catwalk stood seven fabric sculptures by the Loewe Craft Prize finalist Anne Low (Jonathan Anderson is also creative director of the Spanish luxury house).

JW Anderson's collection

JW Anderson's S/S 2018 collection showed a fresh riff of pared back pieces, debuted in the gardens of the Villa La Pietra.

(Image credit: Daisy Walker)

A grand location yes, but the collection marked a more pared back version of the designer’s aesthetic, honing in on beige chino shorts, roll-up jeans, cable-knit sweaters, Breton striped jumpers and a collaboration with Converse. Prints riffed on the Coca Cola logo and came in multicoloured panel love hearts. Anderson’s three year stint as the creative director of Sunspel marks his malleability to move between more subversive and commercial design. His guest status at Pitti marks not just a move in show city but a move towards a new customer.

A cellophane wrapped orange t-shirt acted as the invitation for Off-White's S/S 2018 show. It not only highlighted designer Virgil Abloh’s collaboration with Jenny Holzer, but also featured printed instructions for securing a lifevest- a hint at the political connotations of the show, in particular the Syrian refugee crisis. For the hour and a half long nighttime spectacle, held outside in the enormous front courtyard of the Palazzo Pitti, Holzer projected huge scrolling texts onto the walls of the vast renaissance building, taken from writings documenting war and conflict. Moving excerpts were taken from texts by Omid Shams, Ghayath Almadhoun and by current voices on on the Syrian and Palestinian conflict, living today in exile in the EU and US. Scrolling texts also included thirty verses by the Polish poet Anna Świrszczyńska, who was a military nurse during the Warsaw Uprising of 1944.

Off-White collaborated with artist Jenny Holzer

Off-White collaborated with artist Jenny Holzer on a moving outdoor show at the Palazzo Pitti

(Image credit: press)

Utility wear references in the collection, like bright orange lace up boots, eerie hooded-shirts and wide-collared cagoules resembled both lifeguards uniforms and the apocalyptic protective gear worn during a nuclear fallout. Oversized plastic shoulder bags, flat bottomed and in searing orange, resembled miniature lifeboats, while puffer-jacket gilets and paper nylon jackets riffed on the life vests alluded to in the brand's show invitation. The clothes, illuminated in spotlight against the palatial backdrop, acted as a stark reminder of the world’s present political climate, contrasted in stark detail to grandiose architecture of a time gone by.


Christian Louboutin: The accessories designer staged a Bike Polo Tournament in the centre of Florence, it’s male contenders clad in new Louboutin footwear designs, including a ‘Love’ logo men’s slipper, a deep red leather derby shoe and panelled high-top Aurelien sneaker

(Image credit: press)

Hugo Boss

Hugo Boss: The brand combined its men’s and women's offering for S/S 2018 with a show in a vast disused factory

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Rossignol: Grenoble-based brand Rossignol celebrated the innovative prints and heritage logos in its roster. Its rooster logo featured in maxi size or a tiled micro pattern, while its performance outerwear and knitwear was imagined in the label’s primary colours – blue, red and white. These hues were fused with urban inspired tones, like khaki, grey and black

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Parajumpers: The luxury outerwear brand offered eight new capsule collections – we’ve got our eyes on the Kegen line. Featuring a collaboration with longtime guest designer Yoshinori Ono, the capsule collection fused urban and tech-inspired details, breathability enhancing design, a concealed hoods and laser-cut perforated finishes

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Brunello Cucinelli

Brunello Cucinelli: Desert hues and sun-ripened plains inspired Brunello Cucinelli’s S/S 2018 collection, one comprising sporty silhouettes and formal lines. Its earthy inspiration is embodied in natural and stone washed fabrics, while jackets tailored close to the body and pleated trousers feature oversized pockets

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Tommy Hilfiger

Tommy Hilfiger: The American label looked into its own archive, reimagining quintessential classics for today. Preppy varsity jumpers came with horizontal striped sleeves in patches of reds and blues, and button up sporting sweaters featured asymmetric block colours and regimental stripes. Sneakers were finished with chunky colourful soles, and bought a modern flair to the label’s archival elements

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off white

Off-White: A moving show alluded to the Syrian refugee crisis, featuring a collaboration with artist Jenny Holzer

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PS by Paul Smith: Sir Paul Smith frequents Japan multiple times a year and this season the designer harked back to its 1970s counter culture. The collection nodded to surfing, musical sub-cultures and the Japanese interpretation of American military clothing. They also boast the brand’s new octopus mascot, whose tentacles spread over brightly coloured shirts, shorts and sweaters

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Z Zegna

Z Zegna: The brand set sail for summer, as sea-ready models came clad in performance-focused pieces, inspired by vintage regattas. Equipping the Zegna man for the work desk or the deck, the collection blended active wear with contemporary tailoring. Double-breasted suits were layered against waterproof Techmerino hooded sweaters and rubberized leather boots, while overcoats paired with knitted sailor hats. All aboard!

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Herno Laminar Bike

Herno Laminar Bike: A six-piece, all-black capsule collection paid tribute to the world of biking, including a trio of jackets, a parka, a raincoat and a vest. In tune with Herno’s performance-focused aesthetic, the styles are breathable and windproof, created using ultrasound stitches and thermotaped details

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Colmar Originals

Colmar Originals: Urban cityscapes inspired Colmar Originals’ S/S 2018 collection, which featured a range of high-performance fabrics, from shiny nylon-insert Japanese denim to water repellent two-way stretch fabrics. The collection also nodded to the 90s, featuring nylon jackets, sweatshirts and t-shirts with exaggeration logos and proportions

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Tiger of Sweden

Tiger of Sweden: Coming into bloom, the label looked to Swedish springtime for inspiration. Hues in the collection nodded to rolling meadows, budding flowers and open air swimming baths. Tailored silhouettes were defined by loose fitting trousers, narrow waist and double breasted silhouettes. Alongside the springtime tones, classic menswear patterns including checks, houndstooth and banker-stripes were stepped up for spring

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Bally: Putting its best foot forward for its Pitti Uomo debut, Swiss luxury house Bally launched its S/S 2018 retro sneaker collection in Florence. Looking back at the house’s most loved trainer styles from the last four decades, the collection includes lace ups, high-tops and tennis shoes. We’re keen to make strides in its Galaxy runner, a 1988 reissue, crafted in canvas with supple suede detail

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For more information, visit the Pitti Immagine website