Below is a re-run of the article I wrote and photographed for pocket square purveyors, Rampley & Co at the 92nd instalment of Pitti Uomo in Florence last month:
PITTI UOMO 2017 REVIEW – FROM PEACOCKS TO GROUNDHOGS IN THE SWELTERING SUMMER HEAT OF FLORENCE
We sent men’s style blogger Lee Osborne, AKA Sartorialee, to Pitti Uomo in Florence to capture the élan and flair of the show’s attendees, styling some of the most stylish gents on the planet in Rampley & Co pocket squares.
With its terracotta rooftops, concealed courtyards and streets reverberating with artistic energy, Florence, birthplace of The Renaissance, is the perfect backdrop for Pitti Uomo to play out on. With its ornamented streets bathed in shafts of golden light and shade in equal measure during the day, and dimly lit streets in the evening, it lends an ethereal quality to whatever the camera brings into view. With arguably the most stylish inhabitants of any city, it is seriously close to perfection.
Pitti Uomo is credited with liberating men’s style globally and is one of the world’s leading platforms for men’s clothing and accessories. Now in its 45th year, having launched in 1972, it masquerades as a trade show, but in all honesty is where the most dapper men on planet earth descend biannually to parade in front of the awaiting street style paparazzi.
Unlike other men’s fashion shows, it’s not all about the catwalks. The appeal of the photography the show generates is that it’s shot on the street, in natural light and is very easy to emulate. Guys tap into their Instagram feeds and immediately feel inspired to pull off similar looks.
There’s no doubt that men nowadays are more comfortable about being dandy. Most guys I speak to are of the same opinion as me – it’s as though dandyism skipped a generation. I always remember my grandfather being a very smart gentleman even in a casual scenario, and that definitely rubbed off on me.
But what is the archetypal Pitti man? Generally speaking he can be divided in to two distinct groups. The former, ‘the peacock’, usually wears a tight-fitting jacket or suit, in a pristine, straight out of the packet kind of way, in a standout colour or design. There’s nearly always a waistcoat beneath, his wrists awash with bracelets, fingers festooned with rings . He will spend hours on end glued to the Pitti wall, preening his feathers, desperately courting the lens.
The latter are the ‘groundhogs’ – effortlessly cool guys that go under the radar, the ones that don’t try too hard yet still accomplish the sartorial zenith. Their outfits seem careless and artfully put together at the same time. The term sprezzatura (coined by Italian Renaissance author Baldassare Castiglione in the 17th century, to describe the appearance of his courtiers) was invented for them. Their aim is to maintain interest without being attention-seeking.
Armed with a bag full of Rampley & Co pocket squares for the duration of the show, my task was to hand pick some of the above-mentioned men (and women) and style pocket squares to compliment their outfits.
Pitti 92 will go down as one of the hottest yet. Even the locals struggled to keep composure in 36 degrees heat – Neapolitan playboy Luca Rubinacci was even rumoured to have left after only one day citing the over-zealous heat.
Whilst this did not deter some of the peacocks from fanning their feathers, the wiser, more learned ones retired to whichever shaded area of the Fortezza da Basso they could find. ‘The groundhogs’ kept cool by jettisoning their jackets for bespoke polo shirts, linen trousers and espadrilles.
Blazing sun aside, summer editions of Pitti are always a riot of colour. Primary colours were dominant this year – from red, worn in all its raw vividness by the Peacocks, or in more subdued hues like @cingizis.
To show-stopping cyan, as exemplified by @officina38_byhugoc and several eye-popping head-to-toe yellows.
Linen and seersucker (such as @gui_bo’s grey and white masterpiece) reigned supreme in the oven of the Fortezza.
Several white or cream coloured blazers were in evidence – a look not always as easy to pull off as one might expect. It helps to have olive-coloured skin, failing that it’s a case of accessorising to perfection with contrasting colours. None were more beautifully orchestrated than Giorgio Gianlulio’s DB version that he teamed with damson chinos on day 2.
The show’s theme this time around was ‘Boom, Pitti Blooms’: some had clearly got the memo and dressed to botanically flourish. Evidenced in various forms from all out Liberty-style print shirting, pocket squares, ties or even floral-inspired button holes. On the whole, trousers were mankle-inducingly cropped, with no break in the fabric, cut wide enough at the top to allow even the merest (in this case) amount of air to pass through.
Accessories showcase that it is, Pitti wouldn’t be Pitti without the presence of mirrored sunglasses – although there was a predominance of the more rounded frame over traditional wayfarer’s and aviator’s. Same applies to the panama, but with a marked rise in the beribboned Gondalier-inspired straw boater.
The array of Rampley & Co pocket squares drew much praise from the biggest players in the sartorial world. From French Canadian Guillaume Bo of Men Need More Style who I paired Black-throated Blue Warbler with his double-breasted seersucker suit.
American tailor Angel Ramos of Angel Bespoke with Battle of Trafalgar
Middle-Eastern tailor Samir from Bureza with The Basin of San Marco on Ascension Day 1740
To model and influencer Kish Style from Toronto with Saint George and the Dragon, all waxed lyrical about the design and quality.
Representing the ladies of Pitti, I styled Erica Ström in The Annunciation, with Saint Emidius 1486
Brit Sonya Glenn in Merian’s Drawings of Surinam Insects & Birds
Finally Polish blogger and tailor Monika Kaminska in The Death of Major Peirson
Below are a few more of my favourite images from Pitti Uomo in Rampley & Co pocket squares.
To see all of the pocket squares featured in this article visit Rampley & Co’s store here: Pocket Square Collection
Lee Osborne is the founder of men’s style blog ‘Sartorialee: dressing the globe-trotting man’ and is a former creative director of Condé Nast. Instagram: @sartorialee