4 posts tagged "Pitti"
“I like being obsessed,” said Olympia Le-Tan on Thursday night as she welcomed visitors to the special project she had created for Pitti in Florence. And with an opening line like that, it was almost impossible to resist the web that Le-Tan had woven in the Museo Bellini, yet another of the jaw-droppingly beautiful Renaissance venues that seem to be ten-a-penny in Florence. When the Pitti organizers invited her to participate in this year’s event, it took Le-Tan mere minutes to decide that she would celebrate her favorite Italian films and books and, by extension, their directors and authors in the idiosyncratic medium that she has made her own—immaculately embroidered “books” that are actually handbags. The museum was draped in red silk curtains with the OLT logo, pink roses trailed over banisters, candles flared in the dusty air…atmosphere for days. Every shadowy room had vitrines displaying Le-Tan’s chosen 36 titles, precisely duplicated in thread as they would have appeared on the original book cover or movie poster. They covered a very comfortable waterfront from Visconti, Fellini, and Antonioni (her favorite of favorites) to Moravia, Machiavelli, and Pirandello.
But Le-Tan’s stroke of genius—as far as the Pitti exhibition went—was to persuade a game handful of friends to be photographed by Max Farago as a character from each of the 36. Olympia herself was the apogee of lush sensuality, posed as Silvana Mangano from a 1949 movie called Riso Amaro. Jennifer Eymere, editor of Jalouse magazine, made a very convincing Giulietta Masina from Fellini’s La Strada. Nightclub impresario André Saraiva was a plausibly penitent Jean-Louis Trintignant from The Conformist. As for Victoire de Castellane as Anita Ekberg in full clerical garb from La Dolce Vita? The success of that image was in inverse proportion to its unlikeliness. Poles apart were Hamish Bowles as Martin von Essenbeck, the cross-dressing Nazi from Visconti’s La Caduta Degli Dei (more familiar to English-speaking aficionados of early-seventies cinematic decadence as The Damned) and the ubiquitous Olivier Zahm, posed stark raving naked as a misbegotten extra from Pasolini’s terrifyingly transgressive Salò.
Later that same night, a handful of Le-Tan’s cast of characters regrouped on the Borgo San Jacopo to reflect on their re-conceptualisation of Italian culture. Most of them were French. You can imagine what they talked about.
If at first it seemed perverse of Kate and Laura Mulleavy to turn their backs on the Renaissance glories of Florence in favor of an abandoned, dilapidated clothing store as the venue for the Rodarte presentation at Pitti, their decision made sense once you entered the labyrinthine space that producer Alex de Betak had customized for them with neon tubing and a huge ancient, cracked mirror. “We wanted to link the environment to what we do,” said Kate. True, the space artfully embodied Rodarte’s hermetic, sui generis personality.
Rather than Renaissance aesthetics, the Mulleavys focused on Renaissance ascetics, in particular the meditative state of heightened spirituality induced by the Fra Angelico frescoes on the walls of the monks’ cells under the Convent of San Marco. Every nook was intended to evoke those cells, in which the Rodarte gowns were suspended like serene distillations of the artist’s faded, dusty colors and delicate draperies. And a spiritual serenity was, in fact, the impression that lingered longest, perhaps because, in the past, the Mulleavys have made such an art of insinuating the barely suppressed violence of the physical world into their work.
The ten gowns were structured around a single blueprint: a sculpted torso, a long columnar skirt falling straight to the ground. The silhouette was familiar from classical art. Although Kate insisted that Hollywood couture has never been a reference for them, there was also something of the stately elegance of Adrian in this work, with an overlay of the kind of arcane, dreamlike flourishes that characterize Rodarte. A silk dress in vivid lapis blue was draped in lavender silk satin, its skirt a panel of electric blue sequins. Another dress, in dusty blue, was cross-draped with pink silk, like a couture version of Diana the Huntress. A halter-necked gown in white silk featured a torrent of white and red ruffles splitting open down its front. Hidden among the folds: molded Easter lilies, studded with pearls and crystals. The most spectacularly overwrought piece was composed of a cocoon of coppery lamé crisscrossed with huge scimitarlike feathers painted gold that floated over a skirt of white down. The whole ensemble was topped by a gold sunburst crown, one of the sculptural metal details inspired by Bernini’s Ecstasy of Saint Teresa.
Such an outfit was a reminder that all ten of these pieces are destined for the Los Angeles County Museum of Art’s permanent collection, rather than the bodies of living, breathing women. The significance of that wasn’t lost on Kate Mulleavy. She was free-associating about Carl Sagan making a record of the sounds of Earth and firing it off into space, where others would wonder at it in much the same way that she and Laura had spent five days marveling at Florentine glories that were hundreds of years in the making. In five centuries, will people be standing in front of Rodarte dresses in a similar state of transport? Pitti says yes.
Click here to see the full ten-piece collection >
Today in Florence, Gareth Pugh shows his new Fall ’11 women’s collection as part of Pitti W. SHOWstudio alumna Ruth Hogben (who created the film Pugh screened with his collection last season, and also lensed the video with Mariacarla Boscono for Barneys.com and Givenchy) created a short to play alongside, inspired by “religious iconography and Florentine opulence.” Check it out below; we’ll be posting our coverage of the collection shortly.
As Pitti Immagine CEO Raffaello Napoleone puts it, the fair organizers “listen to the different sounds of the contemporary” to select their guest designers. And over the years, Pitti has cultivated an eclectic playlist, as it were: from Gianni Versace (1997), who staged a fashion ballet for the penultimate show before his death, to Thom Browne (2009), who recruited a cadre of model-typists for a presentation part fashion and part performance art. This evening, Haider Ackermann chimes in. Ackermann was invited to present his Spring ’11 pre-collection as part of Pitti W, the womenswear analogue to the larger Pitti Uomo event that runs simultaneously, and he’s elected to use the Pitti platform to debut his first-ever men’s silhouettes alongside the women’s looks. “It’s not a menswear launch,” Ackermann insists. “I simply felt that I had an opportunity to create a moment here, and try something new.” Napoleone approves, gender divides be damned. “Haider Ackermann has already emerged as one of the fashion world’s most important talents,” he says. “We wanted to offer him a chance and a stage to freely express his entire creative process.” Ackermann called in to Style.com to discuss his Pitti debut, and sent along a few behind-the-scenes snaps of his process in putting on tonight’s installation-cum-fashion show.
Raf Simons has long been a fan of yours, and a mentor. Is it coincidental that you’re showing at Pitti the same season he is, with Jil Sander?
It is coincidental, but it’s a nice coincidence. And of course, we’ve discussed this. The people at Pitti have been following me for several years—they are really the kindest, loveliest people—and when they asked, at last, how could I say no? I mean, how wonderful to be in Florence, in this environment of Renaissance beauty, you know? And also, they’ve given me the wonderful challenge to create an atmosphere, a total extension of the world I show a little of in Paris.
What’s the plan for tonight?
We are inviting people to the Palazzo Corsini. I’m creating a mise-en-scène—the Palazzo has this amazing atmosphere of lost, abandoned beauty, with all these frescos on the walls of the salons that were damaged when the Arno flooded. There’s a kind of decadence to that that I love. I’m leaving the salons very empty, maybe a chair here or there; a very lonely feeling. And I’m installing a collage of my inspirations, sort of like a travel book. The thing about a place like the Palazzo Corsini is that you walk through the rooms and you can’t help but imagine the history—who lived here? What happened here? Who could live in this place now? You start fantasizing, you can’t help it. And I was imagining, as I always do, this nomadic person who has been traveling all over the world, carrying all her treasures with her. So this is like, she’s returned to Florence for a while, to crash in one of her empty palazzi. And we come to visit. Continue Reading “Haider Ackermann Preps Menswear, Womenswear, And Above All, Atmosphere, For Tonight’s Pitti Debut” »