Brunello Cucinelli opens Pitti, in Solomeo, not Florence
The designer greeted visitors online, as fashion’s most famous trade fair became an entirely digital experience this week, in a three-day salon that runs until Thursday, Jan. 14.
Standing before a dozen models and a set featuring a mock-up of a Brunello Cucinelli boutique, the designer spoke inside the headquarters at Solomeo, a medieval village in Umbria, the adjacent region to Tuscany, which he has entirely renovated into company town, with design studios, manufacturing and even a theatre for cultural events.
“We have gone through the sorrowful time, but are now entering a time of grace when we will need to look our best and avoid waste. Yet I think we have become better people after the pandemic… When this pandemic ends, I am planning to go to restaurants seven days a week. To dress up and fondle fabric again,” said Brunello , dressed in a pale beige three-button cord jacket, cashmere sweater with white cord pants, café au lait chukka boots. Sporting his signature breast-pocket pochette, but no tie.
“I am delighted to open Pitti and also welcome the Mayor of Florence,” Cucinelli added, sat beside a table with a couple of bottles of local red wine; and between Raffaello Napoleone, Pitti CEO, and Agostino Poletto, Pitti general manager.
“We’ve received stellar hospitality. It’s not Palazzo Vecchio or Fortezza di Basso, but Solomeo is a reference point for Italian fashion and creativity,” smiled Napoleone, referring to the city hall of Florence and the Renaissance fortress where Pitti is staged.
“Your idea of being hosted by you here is a strong sign of the dynamism of the Italian fashion, and its optimism. We have carried out surveys over the last few months, which show that the lack of contact and meetings underline the importance of trade fairs to gather the best of the Italian market and interact with the global market understanding trends and consumers,” added the CEO.
This season, Cucinelli showed a slightly earthier variation on his take on Italian gent in the city chic. With fatigue pants worn with chunky wingtip boots; snug corduroy jackets always worn open and paired with plaid shirts and his now classic battleship-gray padded vests, cut well up the neck. Worn on a dozen standing models – everyone wearing a mask.
“This is our 63rd edition of Pitti. We Italians have been able to put together the world’s best week for menswear – three days in Pitti with a shows and presentations for 30,000 visitors and then three days in Milan with the most important designers…. Now let’s hear from the mayor,” said Cucinelli, as the link switched to Florence.
“It’s an honor for me to salute the entrepreneurs and great men of Pitti Uomo. Congratulations to Raffaello Napoleone for all the innovations in this edition. It’s a virtual Pitti but not less important. As I have said many times, the emergence of Covid is an opportunity, a chance for innovation into the digital transition. A chance to conquer the digital world, even if the physical world will never have a sunset. As Raffaello always notes, man is a social animal that needs to physically touch material and clothes to appreciate them,” stressed Mayor Dario Nardella standing at his desk in Palazzo Vecchio.
Live streamings in Pitti Connect include Claudio Marenzi unveiling Herno Globe, the new green collection from the sleek puffer jacket brand. This will also include a presentation by Oscar Farinetti in Turin of the first eco-retail park, Green Pea, in Turin, where Herno has space; and a discussion with fashion’s leading technological designer Iris Van Herpen as part of Polimoda Debates, created by Florence’s longstanding fashion college. While on Thursday afternoon, the classiest tailor in southern Italy, Kiton, will open the doors of its atelier in Naples to the public.
There is even a Pitti Olympics section, to help emerging creative brands; a digital display by Finnish designer Rolf Ekroth of the first collection made of Bio2Textile, a new fabric made from agricultural waste from straw; and Ethical Fashion Initiative, which includes happening young African talent such as Jiamini from Kenya; Lukhanyo Mdingi of South Africa; Margaux Wong from Burundi; and Wuman of Nigeria.
Cucinelli even brought on an interpreter to greet “Chinese friends.” She translated from his Italian: “Personally speaking I am very grateful to China. Back on Jan. 9 they gave us an update on Covid-19 and we drew inspiration from how your people handled the pandemic. On March 11, you even sent us a video showing how everyone was working with face masks at the grimmest moment of the lockdown. That was inspiration for us.”
Due to the pandemic, the fair is also planning to stage a special amalgamated edition of Pitti Immagine Uomo and Pitti Immagine Bimbo from Feb. 21 to 23. Though with Western European still largely in lockdown and the vaccine not widely disseminated so far, that joint fair may eventually turn into a digital event also.
A point Cucinelli conceded: “I don’t know if we can hold Pitti on Feb. 21 and 22, but if not, I am sure to see you all in June when we can shake hands and hug each other again.”
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