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Pitti Uomo Florence is the first major fashion exhibition of the year. Attended by thousands of buyers from markets old and new, the pace was lively, enhanced by the Pitti Rocks theme with music at various points around the Fortezza da Basso where the brands and houses large and small gathered.
Colour was very much in evidence, as predicted by The Wool Lab and by trends announced in the yarn and fabric shows. Designers used the brushed wool and twisted yarns seen there for country tweed looks for jackets with an urban twist, enlivened by overchecks in purple, mustard or green on the popular brown tones which emerged for winter jackets.
One of the stories for which wool was essential was the clever combination of synthetic or technical fabrics with natural fibres. This time the high tech fabrics are not hidden away in linings or layers, but boldly joined to weaves and knits, in backs, hoods or sleeves, often quilted, shiny and evidently synthetic, as at Woolrich, Van Gils.
Performance cannot be underestimated. The technical features of wool itself are now fully recognised. Aquascutum's waterproof ginger coloured wool mac was aimed at a younger customer, feeling authentically woolly but with technology for complete protection from the damp.
Brands such as Hardy Amies, Cantarelli and Cucinelli keep their trademark elegance but make the most of technical features which can bring extra value to the final product. Many of the exhibitors made the point that younger customers are now on the lookout for these features, easycare, moisture management and protection as much as the right designs.
Feeding into this trend is layering. The result is that unlined jackets are moving from summer to winter, in soft, brushed or knitted fabrics, checks and fancy designs (Cantarelli) styled as conventional jackets but with featherweight and mostly unlined or minimal construction, so that they can be mixed about at will with copious layers of knitted waistcoats quilted duvet jackets, hooded jerseys and brushed trappers' shirts (Van Gils, Jeckerson).
Large wool scarves, knitted or woven were key accessories. All of these styles play about with colour in an inventive way; bright tweeds, patterned knits, cabled natural yarns in undyed colours or winter white, and everywhere marls, textures and geometrics, particularly checks.
The gentlemanly look, with fine classic worsteds as well as country inspiration (Richard James, Van Gils) is styled with short, sb jackets, skinny trousers and also saw the return of the double breasted silhouette, also seen in the catwalk shows Stella Jean and No 21, where there was also a great deal of knitwear, with coats and tops with contrast welts and effusive patterning, while at Diesel Gold, the Pitti Uomo focus designer, one of the standout garments was a white wool cabled sweater, contrasting with the rock leathers and metallics.
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