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Text Carlo Mazzoni
@carlomazzoni

On January 29th, in an issue of the Financial Times, Jo Ellison talked about the search for masculine elegance, confirming the term elegance as obsolete. Ellison replaced it with grace, binding the concepts of appearance and talent. The article was published just as the presentations of the men’s collections for next winter were coming to an end.

At the beginning of January things kick off with Pitti, a trade show where fashion is intended not in terms of research and aesthetic speculation, but rather in terms of commercial demand. Pitti is in the midst of numerical and media success: the exhibition takes place in a single location and this facilitates exchanges, networking,  and sales – perfectly embodying what a trade show is supposed to be (if there is one word which we should focus on in this time of digital evolution, it is consistency). Like all successful trade events, Pitti Immagine must learn when it is time to pull back: when money is being made, when things are going well, it is easy to get carried away and to enjoy positive synergy. However, it is also important to recognize when it is time to hit the brakes and transform momentum into propulsion. Pitti Immagine must keep in mind one basic concept: when things are going well everyone wants to buy things – the trick is to ensure that everyone continues to desire them.

From a commercial standpoint, presentations are more effective than runway shows: the products can be touched, their craftsmanship examined. A runway show is just that, a show, a moment of visual impact for its audience, and as such it is meant to be impressive. Take Moncler for instance: the presentation is a spectacle (a show that goes beyond the standard fashion show). Afterward, when buyers order from the samples, they find black sweaters to satisfy every kind of client. These strategies are customary to those who work in communications and commerce: the impact of the show and its lasting visual impression which then sparks a mass desire for what we call the brand.

Prada paves the way. Men are no longer lost in a combination of athletic apparel, label-obsession, and street pajamas – even if not returning to formal attire. They are soldiers, men who walk where their intention takes them – it’s called consistency (despite the purple feathers on green sweaters). The prints are not so relevant; they seem to come from past seasons. The black inserts are a tribute Slimane’s influence. Mrs. Ferragni and Fedez, seated in the right position for photographers and cameramen, eventually find a proper meaning, working well as broadcasters.

At Dior, the managerial direction is to bring men’s and women’s fashion together in a single Dior identity. Kim Jones has developed masculine versions of certain Chiuri concepts, resulting in a classic style that strengthens and reacts to Chiuri’s vision. There are two professionals working within Dior who are able to use their creative and cultural capabilities to bolster sales. In the Dior men’s collection by Jones, bullet proof vests, side laces, and thick black suits resemble tailleurs, recalling Christian Dior’s couture tailoring. The styling with scarves is a reference to the romanticism of veiled skirts.

Many have taken note of what Hedi Slimane is doing for Celine. This is called fashion: the interaction of economic and visual elements which lead the collective imagination to elaborate upon what is contemporary. Fashion is a construct of references that, from one designer to another, from one show to the next, engage in a shared – and consistent – dialogue. A replica is different. A replica is not a reference. The difference is subtle, but it can become evident in the work of Diet Prada. Neon jackets, black and white comic strip prints, cartoon flames that rise from the extremity of the pant legs, nylon bum bags in clashing colors: this is much of what we have seen in recent years in Prada stores – while these descriptions are a chronicle of the latest garments from MSGM (see images).

Looking back – the images that remain: Thom Browne and his grey English checks. When garments become wearable they have fitted waist lines, blue and white and red are Browne’s signatures – the finale goes too far and loses balance: it’s just women’s garments on men (photo). The styling of Undercover: a feather on a wool hat, striped sweaters – a velvet outfit with turquoise velvet scarf, yellow sleeves, boots (photo) – there is a sense of bewilderment, a touch of the surreal and out-of-place, and here appear images from a current TV program, Sex Education (photo). The coats of Raf Simons – the cut, the sinuosity, and the quality of the fabric (photo). Hedi Slimane’s influence is seen in Acne: the vests which are a reference to the silhouettes of the 1970s and a rock style. A specific detail is the closure of the pants, open along the sides with a liner, and featuring a play of color (photo). The JW Anderson hats aim to become iconic items, and they have a chance – the vision is over the top, but then comes a sheepskin jacket that recalls Venetia Scott, Alasdair Mclellan, and Timothée Chalamet.

Let’s now return to Florence, questioning what consistency actually means. A brand like Ferragamo, powerful and capable of real estate investments that can change entire cities, introduces a marketing project that focuses on social media and logos, signed by professional selfie-takers presented as creative professionals. A project that could have been proactive years ago, but which today seems to confirm the perception of a company in distress – as though the final world on the vitality of such a brand could ever be a decrease in revenue.

Di nuovo il “Oxford comma”.

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