I managed to get out the door with my bags packed and tucked behind the checkin counter at my hotel by 9:30. Somehow I got through the first three days without getting to the top floor of the main pavilion, which is where many of the most illustrious brands exhibit.
One thing I note on my second trip through Pitti is that the location and style of the booths changes little year to year. Perhaps this is unsurprising, as it makes sense that it would be easier for visitors to find the same brands in the same place every year, and most brands aren't so schizophrenic as to change their aesthetic drastically year to year. But given all the jeremiads on this forum against "fashion" and the never-ending cycle of reinvention to justify new products, it's worth noting that Pitti this year looked basically like Pitti last year.
Isaia comes with the loud plaids, double breasted patch pocket suits, color "stories." Cucinelli does his neutral colors and knits thing, with a red pocket square stuffed in one randomly chosen jacket out of ten. Caruso has some completely inscrutable nonsense (this year it was a couple of models standing together with weirdly collared shirts, white gloves, and a pop-up book...no idea what it means). Hardy Amies has a booth by the main entrance that seems vestigial. I doubt any of these things will change for next year either.
In any case, I finally make my debut on the top floor. Sartorio (Kiton's less expensive brand - by which I mean a jacket costs something like $2k instead of $5k) has draped bolts of cloth over mannequins so that they look like suits. The guy tells me that the stylist needed only 15 minutes to do each one. Tailors who make suits have unreal spatial imagination in general, and intimidate knowledge of how a rectangle of cloth becomes a suit in particular.
On the way out of the pavilion, somebody asks to take my picture. I briefly consider becoming the first blogger ever to refuse a Pitti pic, but then say yes. If you see me on a blog somewhere, let me know.@Synthese
and I make a lunch date for 12:00, but discover that the buffet doesn't open until 12:30. Screw it. We're going shopping.
We head straight to PN/P to continue our exploration of skin tight horse leather. "But why do you constrain yourself with this suit and tie?" the owner Marco asks me as he zips me into a leather corset. I suggest that I can't get my hands to my pants pocket.
"Those aren't important, just use the jacket pockets."
Okay. But the more I look at the jackets the more I like them. And the more I talk to Marco, the more I like him. He is at once in love with his clothes and endearingly uncertain of himself. "Should I wear my hat?" he asks Synth before posing for a photo. Synth says yea and Marco does his best Blue Steel.
We both want to stay longer, but I haven't shown Synth any classic menswear stores yet and my train leaves in an hour and a half.
We stop first at Milord, which has some OK suits and jackets, but they're not really special and they don't look special on Synth.
Part of the problem is that Synth is wearing a tee shirt and it's tough for a jacket to look good over a tee. Another problem is that all these jackets are patterned with plaids and checks. Synth feels like a solids guy to me. The final problem is that these jackets wouldn't look inspirational on anyone.
We get to Liverano at quarter to two, and it's still closed for lunch. I'm sure that I'll have to send Synth back to his home country without an understanding of what I enjoy so much about my clothes, or perhaps with a full understanding that I am an idiot.
Signor Liverano saves me. While we're deliberating, I hear him opening the door behind me. He recognizes me from our visit last year and opens the store for us.
They've got some of the Liverano RTW jackets in dark solids. Synth tries one on and looks like ready to take on the entire world, or at least ready to enjoy the rest of his lifetime without having to take pics of Nick Wooster.
I show him some of the bespoke pieces in various stages of construction and we both ogle a Liverano tux hanging in the showroom. We both agree that if we had all the money in the world, we'd get some Liverano suits. We now have the strongest bond possible among knights of the Pitti palace: a shared grail.
I grab my bags from the hotel and we share a cab to the train station. I'm catching a train to Naples. Synth says he's going to take a nap, which sounds like a good idea, because he looks like hell.
I look like hell too. Four days of little sleeping, lots of drinking and talking. My voice barely made it through. Settling into my train seat by the window, watching Florence fall away behind me, I feel ready to spend the next six months without any even thinking about clothes.
By the time we hit Rome, I'm already looking forward to my fittings in Naples.