Wool is Cool - Fashion in the Heat of Pitti Uomo 92

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Pitti Uomo Fair June 2017Pitti Uomo showed the versatility and endurance of fashion featuring natural fibres for summer 2018, as a sweltering heat hit Florence with unexpected temperatures of up to 40°.

Wool was present in many up-market collections. In addition to pure wool, wool was frequently used in blends of linen and silk for jackets, trousers and knitwear. Wool/ silk combos were particularly successful for fine gauge knitwear.

Australia was Pitti Immagine Guest Nation, eight designers flew in, all with great poise and sophistication, exhibiting in a special section of the show, and each including home-grown Merino in their collections. The most interesting aspect was the inclusion of Merino in top fashion swim and surf wear collections, the marine equivalent of streetwear, while others mixed various fibres and fabrics with wool in simple, cool fashion with a relaxed chic.

Jackets were to be dressed up or down, colourful and bright with scarcely a matching pair of trousers to be seen, and shirts flowery or with micro patterns. Fancy fabric with stripes, checks or slubs were everywhere, in pastel colours like green, pink and brighter ginger, purple or red ginghams. There were colourful windowpane checks as well as classic summer navy and white blazer stripings. Paul Smith for PS returned to Florence with his new line, a colourful attractive collection introducing a giant octopus or rows of orange ice lollies on bright blue tops, jackets and jumpers.

Z Zegna’s urban looks had a decidedly futuristic and urban look with jackets badged TM -  Techno Merino - the revolutionary wool fabric which Zegna has developed with for high performance. It builds on the technical advantages of wool and adds rain proofing, a concept already riding high in outdoor and extreme sports. It underlined the importance of edgy, street based, yet top-quality styles which are a strong direction for menswear, breaking down more barriers and categories each season.

Knitwear collections featured sweaters worn without shirts under formal, unlined summer blazer-style jackets. Prestigious all-wool sweaters, for example cream wool with cables, or a dark navy jumper at Pringle of Scotland which has a special identifying seal on the garment.

There were pinks, soft greens, and light pastels directed to men this season; shirts and sweaters with a pale, delicate look like a fine palest rose pink, as well as substantial monochrome blocked woollen man-shawls which could also be throws.

Designer shows included Japanese designer Yoshio Kubo, Hugo Boss, Federico Curradi and Virgil Abloh for All White - his designs making a political statement on the plight of migrants. JW Anderson was Pitti’s Special Guest in the beautiful Villa Pietra in the hills with highly original outsize graphics and shapes in various fabric combinations.

Eco-worth and sustainability were well to the fore. One of the most interesting collections came from North Sweden, where locally grown wool in hand knitted garments from Swedish island wool were shown in natural shades and dark colours, including navy blue. The garments were all knitted by hand by members of the community in the north of the country, including a collection of scarves knitted by Syrian refugees. Fashion meets social responsibility.

All in all, Pitti Uomo was a bright feast of colour, with much originality, heat, and light, well prepared for Spring /Summer 2018 in these uncertain times.

- Janet Prescott

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