It’s bitingly cold in Florence—peculiar for this time of year, so I’m told—and there’s a whispering sea of fog that’s sifting through the streets, most of which seem empty past eleven at night. That dense mist is something the swathes of people that have arrived for Pitti Uomo are hastily pushing out of town and up into the nearby hills, as they arrive for the legendary trade show’s 95th edition.
Walking through the streets as a long time follower, but first time visitor of the fayre, you’re struck by the first time, Christmas decorations still hanging some time after the festive season has drawn to a close, you get the impression that this sea of peacocking, impeccably dressed tourists—who are set to arrive in town throughout the week for the world’s busiest menswear presentation—barely phases a town that goes on as normal as grandiose dressing dominates every corner you turn.
Maybe that's just because it's early days, though. Festivities kicked off yesterday, as London Fashion Week Men's drew to a close, and while tonight's state of affairs felt busy and exciting, the slow crawl of journalists from a Moschino presentation in Rome meant that Wednesday morning—as guest designer Y/Project’s Glenn Martens debuts his latest collection—is when the hysteria is truly meant to set in. Nevertheless, the biting air didn't stop the fashion cognoscenti from taking advantage of a few solid shindigs on Tuesday night.
Museum Marino Marini
First off: a trip to the Museum Marino Marini, a shrine to the famous Italian artist built inside the cavernous San Pancrazio Church, to celebrate another deity in the country's creative scene: Slam Jam's Luca Benini. Some 30 years after the legendary Italian retailer launched, bringing brands like Stussy to discerning audiences in Italy's fashion hotspots, the company took over the museum and transformed it into a left-field installation space, courtesy of Onyx Collective. Plonking these artists in locations throughout the museum, sat next to priceless pieces of art while wearing in masks akin to a burglar's pantyhose disguise, these subjects were seen weaving wiring together, illustrating sculptures or, in one case, furiously chipping away at a block of styrofoam with a hammer.
Elsewhere, Nike pop-ups offered posters and exclusive looks at the creation of the classic Blazer silhouette, but before the place got too packed (there were revelers at the door waiting to be let in), we thought it best to head over to Gucci Garden before it too got too packed.
Inside the Italian heritage brand's four-story museum-cum-restaurant-cum-flagship store, visitors got a chance to lay eyes on everything from antique Gucci luggage to key pieces from Tom Ford and, of course, Alessandro Michele's stand-out collections. Part showroom, part homage to the dainty and dangerous beauty of the brand that reinvents itself so profoundly with each new creative director, it offered a rare look at the work of geniuses, close up. Seeing these on a runway is enough of a treat, but when they're so close you could feel each sequence and bead in your fingers (don't dare touch them, though) you get a new found appreciation for their work. And in this setting, surprisingly homy in comparison to a run of the mill gallery space, it feels even more special.
Back downstairs, morsels of mouth-watering pumpkin risotto and chocolate cream fingers pour out of the Gucci Osteria da Massimo Bottura kitchen, named after the triple Michelin star chef who runs it and designed its menu. A few samples and a coffee later, and it's probably time to rain check. There's a big show in the morning, and if anyone has a taste for absurdity and rejecting the norm that rivals Michele, it's Glenn Martens.