Words and pictures by Jasper L
I’m going to come right out and put my final impression in the very first sentence: Monitaly had potentially the strongest collection at Pitti Uomo 85. It is superb: the fabrics are brilliant, the construction is solid, and the collection is whimsical, fascinatingly detailed; and I would guess that it will be appreciated by people on all ends of the Styleforum spectrum. If you’ll allow me to slip into TV-critique voice for a moment: it is relevant.
This season’s offering is a mix of old and new. “This collection, I have maybe half new and half is remastered,” Yuki tells me, and then pauses. “We don’t make them exactly the same as before,” he says, clarifying. I wasn’t complaining, but he walks me through some examples. Pieces are shortened, lengthened, slimmed, widened, trimmed, detailed, and altered so that they’ll fit in with Yuki’s current thought processes.
For me, there were two stand-outs: the casually-cut patchwork suit, perfect for all of your mysterious forest-guru-on-a-motorcycle needs; and a shawl-collar blazer-cardigan that resembled the offspring of a smoking jacket, a carpet, and a bathrobe. It defied adjectives – or perhaps it encompassed all adjectives at once. I’m not even entirely sure what it was, but the urge to stuff it in my bag and run away was suffocating.
The patchwork fabric also appears on a ¾-length duffle coat that fastens with heavy-duty fireman’s clasps. I liked the contrast between the stark, formidable hardware, the soft, heavy wool of the coat, and the corduroy of the collar. Heavy melton is everywhere, as are some less standard fabrics: a pair of flight pants constructed of military tents, and coats made of army blankets - not re-used, but re-woven by American producers for Monitaly.
The other noticeable feature of a visit to the Monitaly booth is Yuki, who is hilarious and super gregarious. I was listening to my short interview while writing this, and I wish that I could transcribe his silly voices (“Like this one, I wanted to have a really strong, like a donkey coat, from, like, English walkers, I choose to do like a donkey coat fabric, a strong, you know, guy, in a coat”). As we spoke, he was bouncing around, talking to vendors, talking (happily!) to me, waving at people, digging through racks, and had a hands-on approach to his clothing (and his shoes next door at Yuketen) – as in, his hands were all over it, which I found delightful and admirable.
Perhaps it was this evident and infectious enthusiasm that led me to the following flash of insight: nothing feels extraneous. Every decision was made for a reason – he liked the fabric (and he’ll tell you about each producer), he had a new idea for the cut, or he liked the feel of the hardware.
It’s such a treat to meet the people behind the labels we covet. Not because an explication of Yuki’s intention or his fabric sources suddenly illuminates life’s (or even Monitaly’s) great mysteries; in fact, in many ways it tells you nothing at all or– more probably – leads you in the wrong direction: an explication of clothing’s syntax doesn’t encompass its meaning. However, talking to designers offers a glimpse of the hard work and creativity that goes into the architecture of a garment and of a collection. While we may think of Monitaly as firmly established in heritage trends, what I saw was a showcase of the depth, breadth, and imaginative caprices of the brand; an emphatic reiteration of its charm and a testament to its lasting appeal.
To see a list of Monitaly stockists, please click here