Men’s – Fire at Pitti Uomo. Y/Project AW19

It’s just the beginning of 2019, and we’re already talking about a fashion week. While men’s London fashion week simply seemed to be there, somewhere in the background – with such exceptions as Charles Jeffrey Loverboy’s phenomenal spectacle – the new season takes a more interesting path in Italy, in Florence specifically. Pitti Uomo invited Y/Project, the Paris-based label nailing modern-day nonchalance, to present its collection in Tuscany’s magical capital. Glenn Martens took his guests to the Cloister Grade of Santa Maria Novella, and the result was… fire. Indeed, Martens mastered his distinct touches, like distorted proportions, too-short-here-too-long-there volumes and texture clashes to a perfection of its kind, and we know it looking at his previous collections. But the autumn-winter 2019 outing for guys (and pre-fall 2019 for women) goes darker than usual, even slightly dramatic I would say. And we’re not speaking about couture-ish embroideries and ball-gowns. No. But the way the designer tailors a trench-coat, shapes a velvet jacket or elongates a chunky knit is extremely vivid. Those garments leave and breathe! And Glenn evidently experiments with that feeling of clothes in motion. I also loved how Martens injected this flea-market edginess to his new season offering: (faux) fur stoles and floor-sweeping coats looked like stolen from your grandma, while hand-picked Persian rugs were worn as belts and scarves. The vocabulary of Y/Project grows, but  you’re well aware that it’s the same soul. Whether it’s in a off-beat, Parisian location or in one of Florence’s most exquisite churches.

Collage by Edward Kanarecki.

Men’s / Strip Everything Back. JW Anderson SS18

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Looking back at J.W. Anderson‘s memorable man-skirts or heavy boots covered with studs and flowers, you would never believe that the designer might suddenly do something so… simple. “No-fuss fashion basic-ness. Trying to strip everything back.” This is how Jonathan Anderson summed up his spring-summer 2018 collection presented at Florentine gardens of the Villa La Pietra (as a special guest of the season’s Pitti Uomo). And then he added, “I think this is the first season I’ve tried everything on myself. It was like going back into yourself.” Even the jeans are cut in the way he really likes it. And I like this type of cut, too – slightly baggy, cropped. Also, who doesn’t love a pair of off-duty Converse? Anderson collaborated with the sneakers brand for the upcoming season. Multicoloured heart patches bring on the hippie mood of carefree, summer nights. Chunky knits and tattered-looking jackets will be the perfect choice for a breezy beach day. Sometimes it’s worth going chinos and loose t-shirts, to just settle down and chill.

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Collage by Edward Kanarecki.

Gucci-fy It. Gucci Resort 2018

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In the race of fancy venues for the pre-spring collections, Gucci took their guests to the most Italian city – Florence. And specificaly, to the Palantine gallery of the Palazzo Pitti, known for its ornamental interiors. I wouldn’t be honest with myself if I started to wow and oh over Alessandro Michele‘s latest outing, which is twice richer in literally everything than usual. But what really impressed me was the way Michele went ironic with his up-to-date achievement at Gucci. He didn’t only turn the brand into international commercial prosperity. Have you met some of the Instagram ladies, who wear, breath and think only GUCCI? They’re seriously obsessed with the brand, wearing dozens of Gucci rings at a time and taking total runway looks to the streets. Michele has one, meaningful reply to that mania of his creation: Guccification. At least, some of the t-shirts from his resort 2018 collection had this slogan on.

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All collages by Edward Kanarecki.

Men’s – Robert Mapplethorpe. Raf Simons SS17

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It’s the first time in a while, when Pitti Uomo feels exciting. This season, the fashion editors and buyers have seen Gosha Rubchinskiy take on Italian culture; the same day, Raf Simons presented one of his most defining collections in his career. The standing fashion show for spring-summer 2017 was a special occasion – it was a nod to Robert Mapplethorpe, a controvertial American, who was known for his unconventional black-and-white photography. During his lifetime, the photographer shot such extraordinary characters as Patti Smith or Andy Warhol, but also, he was famous for his highly BDSM polaroids, flower still-lives (often compared to erect phallus) and nudes of female wrestlers.

The photographer, who began the cult of erotic photography in the 70s, was the main, well-visible and fully acknowledged reference point for Raf this season. Rather than simply putting famous Mapplethorpe photographs as prints on tops, Simons challenged himself to make his inspiration something much more profound. “Every boy is a representation of a piece of work” – this is how the designer described the models, with dark, curly hair and skinny black pants. Some looked like the original characters taken out of Mapplethorpe’s polaroids, wearing leather biker caps and voluminous, white shirts. Oh yes, the shirts. The over-sized silhouettes reassembled white walls of a gallery, perfectly exposing these defiant and somewhat deviant visuals. Debbie Harry, with a stern face, looked at you from under a cropped V-neck sweater; a penis photo on a striped t-shirt wasn’t a surprise, keeping in mind Robert’s late obsessions. Wherever you turned, you could sense respect for the photographer, coming from Raf’s heart. The focus was on the clothes – the images weren’t shouting, leaving space for the pieces to speak for themselves. It’s not a one-season-only type of collaboration between an artist (specifically, Mapplethorpe Foundation) and a fashion designer. It’s a collection, where everything is about the rebellious attitude, with a very clear, labelled reference. Other designers should take a note from Simons on how to name their inspirations, in order not to become accidental copycats.

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