One of my favorites at Pitti 83 was Barena Venezia: FW13 is a great collection of staples in wonderful fabrics, textures, and great seasonal colors. Like many of my favorites from Pitti, it’s not one that will stop traffic from a mile away, but something you have to try on and grow with over several seasons. The story: The waters around the small Venetian town of Barena recede during low tide, and the local fisherman sail in special flatboats to collect the fish, shells, and vegetation they sell to make a living. Designer Massimo Pigozzo has used this town, its industry, and its culture as inspiration for the brand, and FW13 ties together nearly two decades of his creative work. I interviewed him in Florence to discuss the collection, which features a mix of soft, wearable men’s jackets and sportswear in interesting colors and fabrics. The clothes: at first glance, one notices his fascination with materials and with colors; each season, the silhouette and the tailoring remain the same, with small changes in texture, fabric, or detail. This season, the wool jersey and corduroy he’s produced for more than a decade are dyed turquoise blue and rust orange corduroy; a staple boiled wool in mustard yellow sits near a gray wool/cotton fleece that’s new for this season. “Though there are some new fabrics… overall… I’ve been doing this for decades,” Mossimo notes, “not much has changed.” He stands near his favorite items, including a navy wool blazer, and touches the fabric. “You have to love the wool,” he says. “It’s all about the materials" that make a jacket something that grows over time with the wearer. Massimo feels that it is this genuine concern over materials and how they wear and age that has allowed his brand to grow and maintain a steady flow of customers from the USA to Italy to Japan. My impression: perhaps more than any I covered at Pitti, this is a collection whose DNA is centered directly in the personality, history, and ideas of its designer. It is a collection of basic staples that are well made and relatively accessible (at least when compared with the bigger fashion brands). There are no logos, no unnecessary details, definitely Barena is a personal luxury. Indeed, simply describing the pieces does not do them justice; boiled wool in mustard yellow sounds like a potentially difficult fit until you see it in person and how wonderful a fabric and color it is; it’s not loud, yet it’s not dull. It could be paired with anything you’d pair with a less interesting brown, but it’s not so bright as to look like a costume. Same with the orange and the turquoise. Massimo knows all of this, making his choices intentionally. Uninterested in trends, relatively unconcerned with sales margins or having an “it” item that will make it into all the magazines, Massimo’s interests are obvious not only in his words, but also in his demeanor. When I interviewed him, he wore one of his trademark knit sweaters, exuding an approachable friendliness and passion for his work that was almost palpable. I picture his clientele similarly: a collection for someone who wants quality, soft materials, continuity without fussiness: a jacket from twenty years ago, though perhaps in a different color, will be quite similar to one made today. Though building his reputation on repeat business, nevertheless Barena is a brand of smaller growth over time, with those who continue to keep and wear their own garments, supplementing them with others in a steady progression. The standout piece, of course, is exactly the one Massimo intended: the turquoise blue blazer in wool so soft it’s like a warm blanket. Like other pieces, the color is bright, but not loud, the materials soft, but not distressed or worn, and the quality excellent for its relatively accessible pricepoint (in the 400-600 euro range.) Like Cristobal Balenciaga in search of the “perfect shoulder,” Massimo Pigozzo and Barena Venezia, whether boiled or blended, just may have found the perfect wool.