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Pitti Uomo Starts with a Bang

Florence was hopping with festivities Tuesday night.

By and

PARTY PACK: To kick off the 86th edition of Pitti Uomo, which this year coincides with the 60th anniversary of the Centro di Firenze per la Moda Italiana, the festivities were plentiful in Florence on Tuesday night.

Gucci joined the celebrations by organizing a cocktail party at its Gucci Museum. The location, in addition to the brand's permanent archival collection, currently hosts a contemporary art exhibition, called “Femminilità Radicale” (or “Radical Femininity”), staged in collaboration with the Pinault Foundation.

Also to mark the event, Gucci paid tribute to Florence by projecting a light show on the facade of the museum, which is housed in the historical Palazzo della Mercanzia located on the city’s iconic Piazza della Signoria. Created by light artist and designer Mario Nanni, the display, named “Da sempre per sempre” (or “Since always and forever”), will be on each night until Friday, starting at 11 p.m. 

Vogue Italia inaugurated the “Florence and Fashion” exhibit at the Palazzo Vecchio, which is dedicated to the five Florentine fashion houses: Roberto Cavalli, Gucci, Emilio Pucci, Salvatore Ferragamo and Ermanno Scervino. It includes photo shoots from the magazine’s own archives.

“We went through thousands of images,” said Franca Sozzani, Vogue’s editor in chief, adding it took two months to pick the shots done by Peter Lindbergh and Steven Meisel, among others.

It’s possible to learn that Ferragamo set up his first shop on Hollywood Boulevard in 1928 to cater to the needs of Joan Crawford, Gloria Swanson and the likes, and that it was Pucci who created the logo for the Apollo 15 moon mission in 1971.

Sozzani pointed out that Ferragamo was a pioneer in many ways.

“In the Forties and Fifties he already invented many of the looks which reappeared in fashion later,” she said. “He used Plexiglas for bags and plastic for shoes; he matched small black socks with sandals and the ballerina — that was him in 1954.”

A few steps further at the Museo di Casa Martelli, Francesco Vezzoli infiltrated the house’s venerable collection, including works by Domenico Beccafumi and Luca Giordano, with his own quirky oeuvre. To wit: The artist injected a Nicki Minaj portrait into a Rococo painting mimicking Madame de Pompadour and put up his own image depicting him as a saint in a flickering LED light box in the chapel.

Louis Vuitton, meanwhile, celebrated the savoir-faire of its men’s shoes artisans, who were present at the brand’s Florentine flagship to demonstrate their skills, most notably the Goodyear stitch, said to make shoes unique and particularly resilient.

“Our men’s business is growing much more than women’s, and shoes are a big part of it,” revealed Marco Pirrone, general manager of Louis Vuitton Italy.

Eight Vuitton stores, including Milan, offer made-to-order services — but only for men.

“The customers love it,” enthused Pirrone. “You would be surprised to see how many hours men spent going through the drawers, choosing the color, shape and leather of their shoes.”

On the other side of town, Rifle jeans feted its “rebirth,” as the company’s new chief executive officer Antonio Arcaro put it, with a pool party at the city’s Parco delle Cascine.

“We are starting from scratch again,” said Arcaro, who took over the reins in January.

The ailing Florentine firm, billed as Europe’s oldest denim brand, is set to reboot with a new business strategy, new products and an extensive image campaign slated to launch in 2015.

“The company has a turnover of 30 million euros [or $40.68 million at current exchange], but has been making losses. It also lost its identity. We want to finish the year with a flat balance, reposition the retail business and recreate an identity,” said Arcaro.

Rifle, which currently has 45 points of sale in four countries, will also “move a little upscale, but no too much,” the executive said. “We want to stay a family company.”

At present, a pair of jeans retails between 69 euros and 99 euros, or $93 and $134.

Italian accessory label Braccialini celebrated the opening of its “Il giardino dell meraviglie” (or “The wonder garden”), an exhibition celebrating the company’s 60th anniversary.

“This retrospective is a gift my children wanted to give to me,” said Carla Braccialini, who founded the firm in 1954.

For the occasion, Braccialini transformed Florence’s Museo Marino Marini into a garden where 100 of the most iconic Braccialini bags were on display.

“They include some of the pieces from our seasonal collections, but also our signature bags dedicated to different themes — from flowers to animals and vehicles,” she said.

During the event, Braccialini also offered a preview of "Braccialini. Le borse delle meraviglie” (or “Braccialini. The wonder bags”), a volume published by Skira that celebrates label’s milestone birthday through product shots, family images and vintage advertising campaigns. It will be officially launched in October.