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July 31 2014

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In Florence, The Stars Align

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The Italians are noted for their national pride, but the opening night of Florence’s Pitti Immagine fairs this week—the menswear spectacle that is Pitti Uomo; the women’s complement, Pitti W; and the childrenswear fest, Pitti Bimbi—found Ferragamo celebrating an American: Marilyn Monroe. In fairness, Salvatore Ferragamo himself did pitch his tent in Hollywood, where he made shoes for the stars (including Marilyn, a size 6), and Monroe is an enduring icon. Why? “Marilyn is a quintessential actress,” opined Rose Byrne (above), who turned up to bring some celeb wattage (circa 2012) to the event. “Mystery, beauty, and tragedy—that will forever intrigue people.” So, it goes without saying, will clothes. A staggering variety of Marilyn’s were on display, including notable on-screen outfits, like the beaded black dress she wore as Sugar Kane in the immortal Some Like It Hot. Curator Stefania Ricci was at pains to pick just one favorite. Pressed to choose, she went for “photos of Marilyn when she was very young, blonde, with no makeup—photos that are [almost] an interpretation of death.” A more literal interpretation of Monroe’s death closed the exhibit: a tableau of a body in bed, as Marilyn was found. Spooky.



One star gave way to many as guests moved from the Museo Salvatore Ferragamo to Fiesole, in the hills outside Florence, for a dinner in plein air. Brunello Cucinelli threw his biannual Pitti opening celebration for a party of a hundred-plus, in a medieval castle dating back to somewhere between the tenth and thirteenth centuries (above). That’s the kind of history even Hollywood can’t cop to, though the site turned out to have had a few modern roles, too. During the second World War, it had been occupied by the Nazis, then was the site of a skirmish between them and combined U.S./Scottish forces. A bullet hole near the entrance hall serves as a permanent reminder. At his expansive booth at the Pitti Uomo fair today, Cucinelli glowed as he spoke of the beauty of the building and the beauty of Italy—one he aims to uphold in his collections. Seen his way, his trademark one-and-a-half breast jackets, down-filled gilets (with hand-picked down to avoid any sharp or rough segments), and ultra-light knits are practically a civic duty. “We believe in the state very much, so I have recalled all the great masters,” he said, via a translator, of his designs. “Italians need to raise our heads again. Our state is an incredible state, and I want to work for it.”

Photos: Courtesy of Salvatore Ferragamo; Courtesy of Brunello Cucinelli

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