The contemporary masculine is a forest, never, ever dark, but no less difficult to untangle, tangled, even perilous. The only way to cross it is to accept its complexity, giving up absolute solutions but not the compass of the watchful eye. The 103rd edition of Pitti Uomo opens today in Florence in the name of crossing paths: the theme of the installation in the Fortezza da Basso is PittiWay and beyond the catchy ease of the title, the point is to highlight how much in this uncertain moment you move between contrasting stimuli. Pitti certainly wants to provide the map for navigating the mare magnum, in the awareness that there can’t be a single landing place today.
The deconstruction of the male continues, inexorably, and with it the fragmentation of the imaginary. Cyclical movements, the only certainty when it comes to fashion, have currently swept sportswear and streetwear from the horizon as hegemonic forms of clothing, but not the street as a laboratory of progressive styles. It is certainly the case with Martin Rose, guest designer of the edition, silent but disruptive innovator. Rose has been active in London for years, but Pitti will be her first fashion show in front of an international audience. Her work is characterized by the continuity between fashion and life, condensed into fashion-happenings that fit into existing spaces and communities. This will also be the case on the evening of Thursday 12 January, but more is not known at the moment. «Fashion for me is culture. It’s part of my natural aesthetic. I try to do things as authentically as possible; I respond to how I feel and what feels right for the brand » she says. Rose is attracted by the most varied humanity, by types who are on the margins of society and by how they use clothes, but as far as character is concerned, her work is not a costume designer, because she focuses on the psychology of dressing through the silhouette and the design of the garments. There is a freedom of approach that is certainly given by the female gaze on the male world and which makes her say «I want to break the rules: men who wear women’s clothes and women who wear men’s clothes, because this is what makes them sexy ». The energy of Martine Rose’s world is rough and liberating and fits into a general climate that oscillates between the opposite extremes of extenuated elegance and recklessness, of spirituality and hedonism. It is a moment full of tensions and surprises. If on the one hand it breaks down, as per Acne Studios where pastel colors, satins and glitter take drunk shapes, now narrow now wide, on the other you purify yourself, as per Hed Mayner, where coffee spoons adorn the lobes of leathery but light men, dressed in sangallo sheets transformed into seraphim or long tunics. The tone of expression here is calm, while elsewhere a raw and brutal theatricality explodes. Rei Kawakubo’s fool for c omme des Garcons remember the court jesters who laughing said even the most uncomfortable truths; he wears tailcoats, tunics, pointed-hem pants and horror-movie masks, with a particularly timely punk note. Rick Owens he brings color and transparency to the rituality of a formula that is both severe and hedonistic, and imagines a Dionysian wardrobe of extremely rigorous shapes. From Craig Green workwear, whether proletarian or managerial, is the starting point of a psychedelic journey that originates in white to end in an explosion of colors, and which moves the world of childhood to reach adulthood and finally back. The detour between archetypes and iconography includes the equestrian world, adventure and even the formal suit with tie. On the contrary, the flattest normality is rediscovered, however made the territory of propulsive distortions. Accelerating in the direction of the absurd, JW Anderson creates a clash between elementary shapes and disparate objects: a bicycle handlebar, the door hinge, industrial gloves and can closures integrate with basic sweatshirts and t-shirts, for no apparent reason other than a comic eyesore. From Fendi nothing is ever as it seems, even when everything appears clear: jeans are jeans, but the rest is leather or who knows what, to the great and private joy of the wearer. Otherwise, we return to sartorial elegance, but introjecting the deconstructive theory of the monolithic image of man.
Dries Van Noten mixes impeccable dresses with feminine underwear – petticoats and corsets – in a collection that explores different types of masculinity and touches smugly extenuated softness. From Saint-Laurentfinally, the surgical precision of the cuts dissolves in ineffable black and white elongations, translating into a memorable yet impalpable silhouette, of the time but somehow outside of it. The models parade in the desert, and the metaphor fits: from here the streets can only and further multiply.