Menswear is the Star of the Show at Pitti Uomo in Florence
Pitti Uomo, the twice-annual menswear tradeshow in Florence, begins this week. Pitti Uomo has been defining menswear and putting the city of Florence on the fashion world’s international stage since 1972, this year marking the 91st and 92nd editions (in January and June, respectively).
Where Pitti Gets Its Name - Palazzo Pitti & The Sala Bianca
The name Pitti, or Pitti Immagine which refers to the larger organisation of tradeshows, might seem curious at first glance. The event itself is held at the Fortezza da Basso, on the opposite side of town from Palazzo Pitti, but in fact Pitti does get its name from the 16th century Medici palace. Giovanni Battista Giorgini dared to take on the French hegemony of high fashion when he held the first Italian fashion show at his home, Villa Torrigiani, in 1951. The show was such a success that the following year they needed a larger venue, and the event was held at the Grand Hotel of Borgo Ognisanti. For the next event they upgraded once again, choosing the splended Sala Bianca (White Room) of the Pitti Palace.
The Sala Bianca would go on to host fashion shows and be an integral part of the birth of the Pitti tradeshows for the following three decades, into the early 1980s. It is in great part because of the Pitti Palace and it’s stunning dance hall, the Sala Bianca, that Florence became the first fashion capital of Italy. Much as the political capital was moved from it’s original home in Florence down south to Rome, the title of fashion capital later came to be associated with Milan.
The Evolution of Pitti Uomo
In 1972 the first edition of Pitti Uomo was held, providing an innovative and much-needed platform for Italian menswear. Over the years Pitti has grown to include not only the Pitti Uomo tradeshow, but Pitti Fillati for yarn, Pitti Bimbo for childrenswear, Taste for Italian food products, Fragranze for perfume, and more.
The rise of fashion blogs and streetstyle photography has elevated Pitti Uomo from an industry-insider affair to a full-blown cultural phenomenon. In mid-January you may find your Instagram feed suddenly filled with men in layers of double-breasted pastel, topped with jaunty hats. They are lovingly (or disparagingly depending on who you ask) known as "Pitti People." Among them are fashion buyers, designers, and industry professionals, while some are hopefuls lingering around the tradeshow and the city-wide events in order to be spotted by photographers.
The 'Sala Bianca' Reopens!
This year is an exciting one for Pitti Uomo as its namesake, the Pitti Palace, will reprise its role as player in the fashion industry by once again taking part in Pitti Uomo. On January 11th, the second day of Pitti Uomo 91, the Florentine menswear brand Stefano Ricci will host its 45th anniversary in the Sala Bianca. It seems Florence is taking her place alongside polished, business-minded Milan to be recognised as the original birthplace of Italian Fashion as we know it.