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The Art of Italian Style

 
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The sun is setting over Florence, the red-tiled roofs dominated by the soaring dome of the city’s famous cathedral. On the terrace of a Medici-era villa overlooking the city, dozens of tables are set with white linen, silver and crystal. Nearby a king’s banquet of pastas, meats, breads, cheeses, salumis, fruit, cakes and wine awaits the arrival of the night’s distinguished guests. Brunello Cucinelli may be renowned for his sumptuous cashmere, but he also knows how to throw a heck of a party.

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The Cucinelli bash is one of the biggest events at Pitti Uomo, a menswear trade show held in Florence every January and June. “That’s probably the most desirable ticket,” says Harry Rosen head buyer Jeff Farbstein, a veteran of both the Cucinelli party and Pitti Uomo. “Brunello and his staff are walking around, and smiling and greeting—it’s like you came home to your aunt and uncle’s house.” If your aunt and uncle are impeccably dressed and live in a Florentine villa that is.

 

Pitti Uomo began as a place for Italian brands to show off their collections, but has since become a major event in the fashion calendar, attracting makers and buyers from around the world. “It’s the calling of the fashion guard. It starts the race,” says Farbstein. While Pitti Uomo has always been synonymous with classic Italian tailoring, the clothing worn here has become as diverse as the crowd itself.

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(Blair Underwood with Brunello Cucinelli)

 

Sportswear, streetwear, military-inspired pieces and technical outdoor gear, once considered the polar opposite of suiting, is all being combined with classic tailoring in new ways at Pitti Uomo, both on the streets and in showrooms. The white tennis sneaker, for instance, is a ubiquitous element, combining perfectly with jeans and a polo or a linen suit. A tailored military jacket, meanwhile, pairs surprisingly well with white trousers and loafers in place of a navy blazer. Sockless ankles reign here, too, whether under a wingtip, a loafer, a sneaker or a monkstrap.

As the central figure of Pitti Uomo, Cucinelli demonstrates this move towards relaxed luxury in his newest collection, which incorporates ultra-lightweight sport coats, safari jackets and varsity sweaters in a wide range of luxurious fabrics. “Our aesthetic is meant to be a play between casual and sartorial,” he says. “I like to create a balance.” It’s this unique combination of old-school elegance and modern sensibility that has made Cucinelli a legend among those who attend Pitti Uomo each year. Throwing the best party in town, of course, doesn’t hurt.

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