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Arno Kantelberg’s insights on Pitti Immagine Uomo 102 (June 2022)

For as long as I can remember, gentleman from far and wide have gathered in the fortress that has been known as Fortezza di Basso since the 16th century. At two distinct moments in the year, fashion brands from around the globe present their new collections in that monumental fortress on the edge of the heart of Florence.

Those gentlemen come to study these new collections – but they also come to study each other. Other well-dressed men tend to be the best shopping window one can ask for. No shiny clothing rack can compete with that.

It results in a certain breed of visitors – the loudest dresser of them all, known as the ‘Pitti Peacock’ who only visits to be seen (rather than seeing anything himself). But to be honest, from the moment the early blogosphere came to fruition (remember The Sartorialist), pretty much every visitor to the Fortezza hopes to be seen and recognized by his peers. Preferably captured on the internet for the world to see.

The loudest dresser of them all, known as the ‘Pitti Peacock’ who only visits to be seen (rather than seeing anything himself).

Since the Italian sparrows fall from the roof by the dozen in June, I put on a linen suit for the occasion. Even at thirty-plus degrees, I was able to breathe. In order to still shine, the linen was reinforced with silk, a contribution of no less than forty percent. That’s the best of both worlds: the natural crease of breathable linen and the glamorous sheen of soft silk.

During the never-ending lockdown of the last two years, everyone withdrew inside in their comfortable clothes. What man still chose to wear a suit at home? (Yes, me, but that’s not the point.) Loungewear became the new normal. The influence of all that clothing convenience was reflected in Florence.

The fabrics stood out as smoother and lighter. The fits seemed wider, airy and so; more comfortable. The skinny silhouette has left the stage in Florence. My khaki-colored pants already anticipated that development, with the legs crafted to have the same width at the knee and the bottom, which creates somewhat of an optical bootcut effect. Both pants and jacket (with its wide lapels) are an ode to the stylish seventies, to Roxy Music front man Bryan Ferry to be precise.

But something else stood out in Florence – everyone seemed to be wearing a jacket of some sort, almost contradicting the convenience clothing revolution that nestled in during the pandemic. To withstand the heat, they were made of summery linen fabric or seersucker, sometimes a fine-knit wool blazer, or a safari jacket in cotton. Occasionally it was even an overshirt that had been repurposed as a jacket over a polo shirt.

The conclusion still remains clear: convenience has crept into the wardrobe, but in an unexpected way – combining dressing up with a post-pandemic je ne sais quoi that transcends rules and traditions. The palette from which us men can choose has become much broader (even at Pitti Uomo!). By coincidence this follows the road paved by men like Bryan Ferry decades ago (and I’m not just saying this because he’s my personal style hero) – as if the lockdown made us realize we can finally do what he did naturally.