In this photo at Harry’s Bar in Firenze, Jake Grantham is laughing. You don’t know why, or with whom, because the left side of the photo has been cut off. But if you were there, you’d be laughing too, relishing that memorable night of negronis and hysterics, right along with everyone else.
Pitti is, of course, work – for writers and photographers, buyers and sellers, and all the support staff at the Fortezza. New wares are paraded, orders are taken, contracts are signed, and so it repeats, twice a year, as it has for over thirty years, like a carousel that never ends.
But what a fun ride it is! And you know the secret room in the middle? That’s where the parties happen, and the room is full of fascinating people, captivating in all their completely off-topicness; where silly antics ensue and eyebrows are raised in accidental innuendo with a heavy dose of good-natured ribbing, and well-wishes are offered with glass rims.
That’s the Pitti I enjoy, and what I tried to capture a little by camera but mostly via Instagram Stories. A static feed, like many forms of media, is a tightly curated method of disseminating information, and while this obviously has its benefits, it presents at best a two-dimensional view. A picture may be worth a thousand words, but its prose is shallow. Live and extemporaneous video allows the personalities of those so often captured in photo to shine freely, unbound and unfrozen, couched in context and surrounded in sound. For example, did you know that Wei Koh loves Toto? Or that Greg Lellouche wears an undershirt? Take a look at the Pitti96 highlights for all that, and upcoming releases from various brands in the booths.
Someone asked if there are still the peacocks, to which I could not but confirm. However, the world already has more than enough bile and deprecation, and while some of the outfits might merit a few jibes, I wished rather to focus on things that please me. Fortunately, at Pitti, I was not wanting for options, only time. I hope you enjoyed this season’s coverage as much as I did, and if you have any comments or suggestions for next time, feel free to leave it in the comments below. Until then, here are a few pictures from the streets of Florence to tide you over.
The days and nights are flying by. Plaza Uomo held an event at the Palazzo Budini Gattai, a 16th century that was built and is still owned by the eponymous family. The next day a few of us got a chance to sneak away from the madness. Andreas Klow (@flannelsandtweed) and Aleks Jovanovich (@aleksjj) and I rented scooters for a jaunt in the Tuscan countryside, and later that evening enjoyed good company with Matt Hranek from W.M. Brown Project and Douglas Cordeaux from Fox Brothers hosted a party where everyone ended up parting ways with a smile on their face.
Check out the StyleForum Instagram feed for stories. These photos are from the evening of day one to the evening of day two. Thanks to Andreas and Aleks for sharing their pics when this third-rate pretend-photographer was slacking off.
What a first day. And what a fun show — Pitti has a reputation of being a place of peacocks, but I prefer to think of it as motley trove of various ideas that, while sometimes silly, can often be surprising. Here’s a few streetstyle photos from inside the fair.
Here’s a selection of some of the best and most interesting outfits from Pitti Uomo 95. The streetstyle from Fortezza Dal Basso oftentimes shows the trends we’ll be following in the next months, so tell us what catches your eye! For more pictures and coverage from Pitti Uomo 95, check out our Instagram page, and check our stories for insiders peeks inside the fair.
Back in the day, Esquire magazine stalwartly carried the torch of classic black tie. One of my favorite writers of that era, John Berendt, grew up in Syracuse, New York, not far from one of the first appearances of the tuxedo. Almost immediately after graduating from Harvard, he became an associate editor of Esquire from 1961 to 1969 and continued to contribute from 1982 to 1994, when his book Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil was published. Many of his columns begrudgingly acknowledge trends while scornfully piss on what he calls “atrocities.” A particularly funny one is when he took umbrage with some of the spirited choices his contemporaries passed off as acceptable black tie. After observing that the first two public exhibitions of Henry Poole’s dinner jacket in America caused quite a stir, he wrote:
“I mention these two episodes…to make the point that, historically, there has never been much tolerance for individual touches when it comes to formal attire. And properly so–if not for the sake of tradition, than because for some reason the classic model is almost always debased rather than improved by innovation….But in a perverse sort of way we can be grateful to them because of what they reveal about the wearer’s level of taste.”
Classics: The Tuxedo, from Esquire, January 1983
For about 100 years, the classic black tie model has remained more or less the same, and is fairly straightforward: the suit itself can be black or midnight blue wool. As for the jacket, the most formal is single breasted peak lapel, and happens to be the most flattering one. Your shirt, which is always white, should be the quintessential marcella bib with two or three studs. A wing collar would have been the first choice a century ago, but nowadays a soft turndown collar has become the norm. Pleated shirts are fine, but I find they go better with peak lapels in a double breasted jacket or shawl collars in either configuration. A notch collar is acceptable, but has the tendency to look more waiter than waited on. Your bow tie, which should never be pre-tied and always in front of your shirt collar, can be in either black silk satin or grosgrain. Ideally the same material should be repeated in the lapel facings, buttons, and a single stripe down the trouser’s outside seam. Your waist should be covered by a double breasted jacket, a formal black waistcoat, or a cummerbund that matches your tie. Shoes are black oxfords or opera pumps in patent leather, although either in properly shined calf leather is a fine alternative. Hosiery is black silk.
Once you have a tuxedo in any of the above, you can start to go crazy – a little – for less ceremonious affairs. An easy way to do this is by simply swapping the top. An off-white jacket is a fine choice for daytime or if you happen to find yourself on a boat. On informal occasions, such as a party in someone’s home, a velvet smoking jacket in deep jewel tones is a louche option, or plaid if you’re feeling particularly festive. In these cases, lapels should never be notched, and facings can be in black silk or in the same color and material as the jacket, depending on how shiny you wish to be. If you feel especially casual, you can swap your courtly footwear for slippers in silk or velvet in black.
There are other options, of course, but listed above are already a dozen or so that will take you everywhere from the opera to the stag party. With the proviso that you have them all already and are exceptionally popular with a calendar bursting with fancy engagements, just don’t. Unless you’re Andy57.
Andy Poupart is a self-professed romantic that loves black tie more than anyone I know. His job, like most of us, doesn’t pit him against secret agents or nefarious megalomaniacs, but if it did, he’d be ready for the part. His black tie closet includes:
Straight-ahead, classic, by-the-book, black, peak lapel, grosgrain facings, single-breasted dinner jacket, with matching trousers, cummerbund, and U-front waistcoat
Midnight blue, shawl lapel, midnight blue satin silk facings, single breasted jacket, with matching trousers, cummerbund, and U-front waistcoat
Deep bottle green velvet, black grosgrain facings and cuffs, shawl lapel, single breasted jacket
Thai silk, red, self-faced, peak lapel, single breasted jacket
To accompany these, he has socks in black and midnight blue silk, two shirts each in white and ivory, all with soft turndown collars and marcella fronts, several sets of studs and links, a butterfly and diamond point bowtie in black grosgrain, another in black mogodor, a fourth in midnight blue satin silk, and black patent leather oxfords. If that sounds like overkill, be assured Andy has worn every piece in his armory many times over, and has his eyes set on a few more. “I keep thinking about a burgundy double-breasted jacket in a fantastic wool/silk velvet,” he grins.
Although all of his outfits are excellent, Andy reckons his favorite is the ivory dinner jacket. “I designed it after Humphrey Bogart’s in Casablanca. When I wear it, I’m a 1940s gun-runner, one step ahead of the bad guys, with places to go and things to do that you can’t be any part of, but we’ll always have Paris. Oh, and a martini in one hand.”
“I know that all sounds silly, but I don’t care,” he states. “It’s how I can express the side my personality that I want to portray. I think that when we get dressed, in any sort of clothes, we are telling a story about ourselves, how we wish to appear to the world. When I wear black tie, I feel I’m presenting the best me.”
I have to catch up to Andy – I’ve got a few black tie rigs myself, but alas, no velvet yet.
You can wait until the invitation requests it, or you can do like Andy and where it wherever you want. To be honest, even a black trash bag is better than not trying at all, but as long as you’re trying, you might as well do it right. To that end, try your best to follow John Berendt’s sage words:
“My advice is to stick with the classic unless you happen to have a tailor with the prescience of a Henry Poole. And the odds are you do not.”
Pitti Uomo 94 didn’t disappoint: slim fit suits are (finally) disappearing in favor of roomier fits and lots of pleating. Many people ditched sport coats and chose to wear field jackets, a solid #menswear trend in 2018. Aloha shirts were a hit as well, and the pairing with tailored clothing, albeit bold, looks surprisingly sharp. Are you going to be rocking this look this summer?
For the time being, enjoy a selection of the best outfits spotted at Pitti Uomo 94, captured by the lens of our talented photographer @sebastianmcfox.