Balancing Act. Salvatore Ferragamo Pre-Fall 2021

Pre-fall 2021 collections are gradually popping up (yes, the industry still wants you to think about next year’s autumn in this year’s winter). Paul Andrew likes to put things in context; he has so far used films and historical locations to frame his fashion narrative. In keeping with that practice, he shot the Salvatore Ferragamo pre-fall lookbook in Florence at Manifattura Tabacchi, a former cigarette factory built in the modernist style of the 1940s, which was recently rescued from a state of disrepair to become Polimoda’s campus: “It’s a progressive, creative place full of life and enthusiasm, with lots of young people hanging around,” he told Vogue during a Zoom call from his Florentine studio. It proved an apt location to convey the collection’s feel. “I want to bring joy and beauty to this world.”Andrew isn’t alone in his desire for turning toward the positive; nor is he alone in the urge to contextualize collections within a larger frame. Social and cultural issues have become non-negotiable parameters for every fashion designer who wants his creative work to resonate with a broader audience. Customers more than ever buy into conscious creativity – ethical, responsible, value-driven. Andrew is playing his part, steering Ferragamo into sustainable territory and keeping his commitment to responsible practices – reducing waste by choosing deadstock leathers; using recycled nylons and certified natural fibers; editing collections with a tighter focus. Doing less but better has become his mantra, a belief that has him embracing a timeless, nondisposable aesthetic. Collections are built around high-quality investment pieces that have longevity and durability, while retaining a strong contemporary appeal. This pre-fall collection is a good example of his new approach. The chic purity of line and the slender construction Andrew favors looked timeless indeed; what made the offering distinctive was its focus on tactile leather dressing offered in many variations, highlighting the artisanal expertise of the Florentine house. Shapes and silhouettes for both the men’s and women’s lines conveyed a feel of ease and comfort, while retaining their sophistication. He didn’t shy away from the occasional statement piece either. Ample A-line and wrap dresses featured adjustable matching belts or scarves, changing them into more form-fitting shapes; slender tunics and elegant shirtdresses were often worn over matching trousers or lightweight cashmere leggings. A leather circle skirt patchworked in a bold geometric archival motif added a decorative flavor, as did the contrasting hand-painted edgings on a softly architectural nappa coat dress. “I’m really thinking of what customers will want and desire after this COVID nightmare will be over,” he mused. “We’re keeping our fingers crossed that they’ll be back in stores and eager to be dressed up and to buy and invest in fashion. But they’re not going back to the old ways.” Things have to be shaken up and changed, then. “My feeling is that people will continue to be more casual, after months at home Zooming in their pajamas I’m not sure they’ll be suddenly dying to be in form-fitting garments again,” he said. “So it’s a balancing act. Whatever you do, there must be some casualness and ease combined with high-values and sophistication, refinement, beauty. But mostly, it has to have a certain vibrance – and to bring joy.

Collage by Edward Kanarecki.

Men’s – Pure and Forever. Jil Sander AW20

For the autumn-winter 2020 season, Lucie and Luke Meier presented their men’s Jil Sander collection at Pitti Uomo in Florence. In the complex of the Santa Maria Novella, where the show was staged (accompanied by three huge heaps of marigolds), stands an ancient pharmacy dating back to the 13th century in which balms and salves have been concocted from calendula for generations. This created a connection to the fine silk tassels – confession box Catholic, but here mostly in monochrome – that sparked thoughts of local historical attire, as did a carefully roughened white habit that passed in the collection. Still, the Meiers don’t need references to stand behind their clothes. Lucie spoke of wanting to make garments with lifetime appeal (“cherishable clothes”). The Shetland knitwear, the fantasic, over-sized tailoring, the ornamental, yet subtle beaded details on the coats – those are clothes that will stay with you forever and never get out of fashion.

Collage by Edward Kanarecki.

Men’s – Italian Goodness. Salvatore Ferragamo SS20

I’m still in absolute awe. Salvatore Ferragamo‘s spring-summer 2020 collection for men (and resort 2020 for women) was the best thing I’ve seen for a while in fashion. It was that good. No fashion show has ever been allowed in Florence’s Piazza della Signoria before. The view had to be really, really impressive, noting that the models walked in front of David. Plus, comparing to other shows we’ve seen this month, this one had a real sense behind the location: Florence is the company’s home. Now, fashion. Paul Andrew and Guillaume Meilland have already proved that they’re a good match for Ferragamo in their previous. But this one was their best. I fell in complete love with all the jumpsuits the designers sent down the runway – especially the one in deep purple, with a zipper and a belt at the waist. The perfect balance between utilitarian and Italian elegance. Something you would love to wear to your vineyard in Tuscany. I adored all the leather pants and shorts, too. The colour palette, mainly mint, lavender and ochre, was a dream. There’s beautiful tailoring as well as pajama pants. While using the so-called “rave” sunglasses sounds like trying too hard to impress the younger audience, here they looked properly cool. Just wow.

Collage by Edward Kanarecki.

Montepulciano

If you’re travelling by car and got a place to stay at in Florence, you really should go and discover Tuscany. To feel the Tuscan rhythm of life, try Montepulciano. This medieval village rests atop a narrow hill and can be found in an unbelievably postcard-perfect landscape, filled with cypress trees and sun-drenched vineyards…The best way to discover the elegant historic center is on foot: as you walk along, you’ll come across Renaissance palazzos before reaching – at the highest point of Montepulciano – the main piazza. But despite its beauty, Montepulciano is also world-famous for its Vino Nobile, considered one of the best Tuscan wines in the world, made with grapes coming from vineyards surrounding the village. Also, it’s worth visiting the local food stores (I mean, their salami and cheese… well. I can’t believe I ate all the supplies I brought home!) and the oldest library in town – Magnanet Libreria Di Lorenzo Rago. The owner is the third generation of the family that opened it and there are more than 15,000 books (!) in their archives. It’s impossible not to fall in love with this place…

All photos by Edward Kanarecki.

Florence Addresses

Other than Trattoria Sostanza and Gucci Garden, which I wrote about in separate posts, here are five more addresses I found interesting in Florence.

Florence’s late-19th-century steel-and-glass market building in San Lorenzo underwent a makeover in 2014 when the second floor was converted into a contemporary food hall. On the first floor of the structure, traditional butchers, fishmongers and fruit/vegetable vendors supply the Florentines. But climb the staircase to the upper level and enter Mercato Centrale, a food-lover’s’ heaven that showcases the very best of Italian regional food. It’s a lively space offering sensual overload, and the range of gustatory delights is nothing short of eye-popping.

Piazza del Mercato Centrale 4

If you’ve been to Trattoria Sostanza (or didn’t catch a table…), go to Buca Lapi. It’s not as off-the-radar, but the restaurant serves classical, Tuscan food in a cozy, home-made way.

Via del Trebbio 1r

The name on everybody’s lips these days in Florence is La Ménagère, a space near San Lorenzo market that combines a restaurant, tapas bar, flower shop (which is actually the best part) and a home-accessories collection, concept-store-style. This place impresses with its details and is highly Instagrammable. Not entirely sure of the food though…

Via de’ Ginori 8

Procacci is this chic go-to spot for Florentines, who are exhausted after their shopping on the fancy Via de Tornabuoni. Delicious, little sandwhiches with truffle paste will make you addicted after the first bite…

Via de’ Tornabuoni 64R

Atelier Dipinti e Bijoux is Stefania Pastacaldi’s boutique. It’s the place where you can find exclusive items of refined, properly Italian jewelry. Gorgeous animal miniatures, used later on in jewellery, is the atelier’s signature. All strictly hand-made.

Via del Sole 24r

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All photos by Edward Kanarecki.