Extra-Curricular Activities at Pitti Immagine

With the temperate Florentine evenings of Pitti Immagine occupied by the fair’s guest designers (Diesel Black Gold and Barbara Casasola had the honour for Fall ’14), there was plenty of time during daylight hours to discover the diverse offerings of the new season in and around the Fortezza Di Basso’s labyrinth of exhibitions. Amidst the sea of commercial endeavours, several valid creative propositions floated above the rest—a result of new initiatives celebrating past and future.

Veteran designer Alessandro Dell’Acqua took advantage of Pitti’s spare calendar to put his first N°21 menswear collection in the spotlight, taking over the city library with a live presentation of 21 looks and a multimedia series of abstract videos and etched crystal cubes housed in vitrines labelled KEEN, IRONIC, ECCENTRIC, BOURGEOIS, SELF CONFIDENT, and POWERFUL. It was a dramatic preface to the garments proper, which leaned towards the bourgeois: the eccentricity of their preppy silhouettes arriving in the addition of fabrics like lace and satin, or the spider-jewelled socks (an instant hit with editors and buyers alike).

Emiliano Rinaldi also showed ahead of the Milan calendar, hiring the 15th-century Palazzo Gondi to show both his men’s and womenswear in a collection he labelled “Grand Chalet.” Parading the soft layers of his signature pyjama tailoring to the strains of an urgent brass band interlaced with ambient electro music, his satin loungewear in scarlet and burgundy, sky blue, and silver looked at home amongst the frescoes, more so than the woolly hats, jodhpurs, and polo mallets that stemmed from his alpine, equestrian inspiration. The most elegant moments arrived when Rinaldi styled his opulent silks in pragmatic, urban silhouettes mingled with light wool tailoring.

Opening its doors during Pitti and extending through March 16, a retrospective exhibition for the Italian photographer Aldo Fallai is currently on show across two venues, the Villa Bardini and Museo Stefano Bardini, bordering the famous Boboli gardens on Florence’s “left bank.” Fallai rose to fame as the photographer behind Giorgio Armani since the 1980s, shooting countless iconic images for the designer’s campaigns, his now-defunct Emporio Armani magazine, and book projects like Almost One Year featuring portraiture shot across Italy and Marrakech in 1992. With imagery spanning 1984 until today, the exhibition is dotted with famous faces and unknown beauties. Shot on film in mostly black and white, the photographs embody the empowered spirit of Armani’s era-defining aesthetic of undone sophistication. During a press preview, Fallai clutched a note from Mr. Armani himself, as he shared anecdotes from bygone studio sessions (in one photo they’d sprinkled flower along the set to mimic ocean spray) and discussing the exhibition’s travelling schedule, which will start in Shanghai later this year.