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we hit up Pitti Uomo, the premier stop on the international menswear calendar

It takes more than a few London collections to shake Pitti, where Barbara Casasola showed ‘menswear for women’ and Alessandro Dell’Acqua premiered his No. 21 boys.

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Rock Me Pitti was this season’s theme at the Florentine fashion fair, inspired mainly by the Diesel Black Gold show, which opened the events on Wednesday. But for an establishment that has had to deal with the arrival of London Collections: Men and the subsequent overlapping issues, which this season forced Pitti to charter a private jet to expedite the congregated press corps from London to Florence after the Burberry Prorsum show so they wouldn’t miss Diesel, Rock Me Pitti also serves as a message and a dare to the fashion industry. Come on, show us what you’ve got. You don’t mess with a 42-year-old Italian fashion institution.

Paradoxically for a fashion event that’s losing more and more days on the menswear schedule, one of the best things about Pitti is that there’s time to breathe. The show schedule isn’t too packed and there are just a few featured designers every season, who are each given the kind of time and attention from press of which an LCM designer could only dream. And for that reason – and countless others – Pitti is an institution worth protecting, and one that shouldn’t be pushed from all sides until its claim to the menswear schedule amounts to just a single day.

After Wednesday night’s Diesel men’s show, Thursday was dedicated to the London-based Brazilian guest womenswear designer Barbara Casasola, who presented her Pre-Fall 14 collection in an immersive art installation at Palazzo Portinari-Salviati. “It’s a very personal collection. Very,” the designer said, noting that it was her private archive of menswear that had inspired the ‘menswear for women’ theme of the collection. With a short film featuring Casasola’s muse Jamie Bochert rolling in the background, models posed in a domestic environment in a series of looks – styled by former i-D Fashion Editor Erika Kurihara – which played on the duality of feminine elegance and masculine might.

“I was hoping to get this moment,” Casosola exclaimed as two models in almost identical suits came out. “They’re both wearing the same look: one in colour and one in the menswear fabric. I’ve done quite a few tweed looks because I thought that was a strong way to express my concept. You see the menswear connection, but once you see colour you connect with my world.” There was an above all controlled feeling about Casasola’s flawless tailoring of suits and her constructions of structured gowns, and a very apparent sense of perfectionism, which instantly raised the collection to a different level.

It was a seriousness, which went hand in hand with fashion’s current – and increasing – hankering after the artisanal, the anti-trashy and the immaculate. In terms of womenswear, this is what the kids want. Earlier in the day, Alessandro Dell’Acqua debuted his first menswear collection for No. 21, which saw models raised on a podium in the sea of reading lamps at the Biblioteca Nazionale Centrale di Firenze. With all the contemporary part-sporty, part-elegant garments a young man’s heart desires in the current fashion climate (see: AMI and Jonathan Saunders), pieces like a stiff variation on a varsity jacket in green with a glittery horse motif on the back had the men of Pitti going wild. 

@anderscmadsen