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24-Hour Pitti People

Keeping up with Gucci, Pucci, Francesco Vezzoli, and more in Florence

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Suzy Menkes and Peter Dundas   
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When your evening kicks off with a nude man splayed across a bed of money in a Florentine street, you know you're in for a wild one. Last night, Pitti Uomo-goers skipped between parties and exhibitions scattered across Florence, none of which were to be missed. It all began with the 5 p.m. opening of Francesco Vezzoli's Vezzoli Primavera-Estate, a three-museum installation of the Italian artist's irreverent work. Playing a game of sorts, editors, buyers, and designers explored the ornate rooms of Museo di Casa Martelli, Museo Bellini, and Museo Bardini, trying to spot Vezzoli's paintings and sculptures, which were inserted among those of Renaissance masters. Placed among images of saints and old-world aristocrats, renderings of Nicki Minaj provoked chuckles from more than a few guests, and a shrine surrounding an illuminated self-portrait of the artist seemed the ultimate comment on (and display of) egoismo.

Outside Casa Martelli, painter and performance artist Vaclav Pisvejc produced a very different kind of shrine: He disrobed, lay down atop a heap of (faux) dollar bills, and held out an abstracted portrait of Vezzoli. Regardless of the fashion set's opinions on the stunt, Pisvejc's statement against excess and "The Fabulously Wealthy" (hopefully) gave them something to think about between champagne-fueled fetes.

But it wasn't all bare bums and anticapitalist demonstrations. This season's fair marks the sixtieth anniversary of the Centro di Firenze per la Moda Italiana. Pitti has used the occasion to celebrate Florence and five fashion houses with Florentine origins: Emilio Pucci, Gucci, Salvatore Ferragamo, Ermanno Scervino, and Roberto Cavalli. At Palazzo Vecchio—a medieval fortress that serves as the city's town hall—Vogue Italia's Franca Sozzani opened Florence & Fashion, a photography show honoring the abovementioned brands. "Italian fashion was born in Florence with the Sala Bianca, and it's important that people know that," said Sozzani. "Of course, today it's about Milan, but it all started here."

Meanwhile, down the road at Palazzo Pucci, Peter Dundas and CEO Laudomia Pucci toasted the brand's impressive installation at—or rather, on—the Baptistery of Piazza San Giovanni. "It's the first time in Florence's history that anyone has done anything like this," offered Pucci of the project. And it's unlikely anyone will do it again—the house covered the Baptistery in more than 20,000 square meters of canvas printed with Pucci's 1957 Battistero motif. Fittingly, the pattern was inspired by the religious landmark. "So many important fashion houses have their roots in Florence," said Dundas at the party, which also featured an exhibition of archived Pucci wares. "It was the capital of Europe, and it has this intense saturation of history. For me and for Emilio Pucci himself, Florence was a source of inspiration."

Just before Giotto's Bell Tower struck 9, it was Gucci time. The house opened its Gucci Museo to the public free of charge yesterday and, at night, hosted a lavish festa. Gucci, too, had a present for Florence: an enchanting light show designed by Mario Nann. The artist projected a poem, "Da Sempre per Sempre," on the museum's exterior. Tourists, locals, and fashion insiders alike gathered in Piazza Della Signoria to ooh, ahh, and, of course, Instagram the display. In fact, Gucci's lights drew almost as many onlookers as our naked artist friend—not quite, but almost.

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