(Pitti Uomo headliners are expected to reference the history of Florence and find Italian tailoring for their special collections. According to the exhibition notes, jeans actually go back to the Renaissance. When Michelangelo sculpted David, they were indebted to receiving “public floggings” at the show venue.)
Not afraid to mix references, Rose also folded into a seam of Spaghetti Western wear: some of the cheesy jackets and wool coats had waves of fringe flowing down the backs that turned the weekday into the stuff of Italo Disco star power. Bulbous clown-toe derbies—one of Rose’s favorite new designs, she said—expanded her vocabulary of over-the-top footwear.
Twisting normal people’s uniforms into runway fashion is a tightrope walk. It can easily devolve into dystopia and magnify the oppressive reality of life that clothing can so clearly convey. But Rose’s collections have a much more light-hearted feel: they’re certainly more extreme, but in an eccentric and occasionally very funny, butt-baring, Western coat fringe way. Rose used the word “fun” several times to explain these design possibilities. Over the years, Rose’s distorted designs have been seen as trollish or terrifyingly cold, but she’s really all about creating surprises, delights, and a little drama. She might make clothes for the nightclub, but her crowd is not excluded. It’s a profoundly refreshing approach, and within minutes of the finale, audience members — awash with optimism and Aperol spritz — were already debating the likelihood of Rose ending up at Louis Vuitton, or maybe even back at Balenciaga. The message was that the upper echelons of luxury fashion could use Rose’s open-mindedness, foresight and ability to wring excitement from the everyday.
Backstage holding one of her children at her side (a good reminder that she’s one of the few mums among the menswear designers), the ever-effortless Rose thanked the locals who went to the show. “I’m so proud of the cast, a lot of them have never acted. [this] before. And they really energized and I think they paid tribute to Florence in the way that I was hoping for,” she said. A few minutes later I ran into one of them, a gray haired man named Luigi standing outside. His hair was slicked back and he was still wearing the fringed jacket, leather trousers and silk shirt and tie from the show. She seemed to fall right into the category of cast members who had never walked in a fashion show before. When I congratulated him, Luigi shrugged before smiling in satisfaction. Another newly minted Martine Rose fan.