Pitti Uomo, which will open its 100th edition today, is an unmissable event for the international men’s fashion community. Inaugurated in 1972, the trade show was the first fair in the industry to put in the spotlight a new idea of men’s wear — less traditional and more in line with the needs of the market.
Boosted by the appeal of its native city, Florence, with domestic and global visitors, Pitti Uomo seemed to continue the legacy of Giovanni Battista Giorgini, the Tuscan entrepreneur who strongly contributed to the creation of an Italian fashion system. In the 1950s, he invited American department stores to discover in Florence the region’s new talents that were offering an elegant and more commercially savvy option to the creations of Paris haute couture designers.
From 1954 to 1982, runway shows were regularly held at Palazzo Pitti’s Sala Bianca and in other locations across the city, giving visibility to those emerging designers that would go on to change the fashion industry forever. They included Emilio Pucci, Roberto Capucci, Mila Schön, Missoni, Valentino and Giorgio Armani.
In 1954, in order to manage the different fashion events in Florence, the Florentine Center for Italian Fashion was established with the goal of organizing shows, presentations and trade shows, promoting Italian fashion.
During the ’50s and the ’60s, the focus was mainly on women’s wear, but in 1972 the Tuscan institution decided to invest in men’s wear, launching Pitti Uomo, which from 1988 has been managed by a division of the Florentine Center for Italian Fashion, called Pitti Immagine srl.
In 1975, to facilitate the attendance of international buyers to the Italian women’s shows, they were moved from Florence to Milan, but the Tuscan city remained, thanks to Pitti Uomo, a point of reference for men’s fashion. Pitti Immagine actually succeeded in maintaining Florence’s leading role in the men’s segment by continuing to create rich calendars of events, shows and exhibitions that, along with the high-end proposal of the Pitti Uomo trade show itself, attract retailers and press from around the world.
Here, WWD retraces some of the key moments in the history of 100 editions of Pitti Uomo
1972: The first edition of the Pitti Uomo men’s trade show takes place in a Florentine hotel
1983: Pitti Uomo moves to the Fortezza da Basso venue, which still houses the trade show
1988: Pitti Uomo becomes Pitti Immagine Uomo
1990: Vivienne Westwood debuts her men’s line with a runway show at Villa Gamberaia
1991: Jean Paul Gaultier hosts his first runway show in Italy at the Scuola di Guerra Aerea
Romeo Gigli organizes a runway show at the Quartiere di San Niccolò that was filmed by Robert Frank
1992: An exhibition curated by prestigious architect Gae Aulenti at Palazzo Pitti’s legendary Sala Bianca celebrates Giorgio Armani, showing over 70 evening dresses created from 1982 to 1992
1993: Paul Smith stages his first runway show in Italy at the Stazione Leopolda
Gianfranco Ferré, receives the Pitti Immagine Uomo award, and hosts a men’s runway show at the Stazione Leopolda
1994: Donna Karan hosts her first runway show in Europe at the Stazione Leopolda
Dolce & Gabbana launches the D&G line with a men’s runway show
1995: Pitti Immagine Uomo celebrates the memory of Franco Moschino with a special prize and the brand organizes a show and a live concert at the Cascine location
Dries Van Noten hosts his first runway show in Italy
1996: Giorgio Armani designs the costumes for the “Latin Lover” flamenco event starring Joaquìn Cortés at the Stazione Leopolda
Director Robert Wilson presents G.A. Story, a stage show on the life and career of Giorgio Armani, unveiled at the Stazione Leopolda
1997: Gianni Versace and choreographer Maurice Béjart organize the “Barocco Bel Canto” ballet at the Boboli Gardens’ Amphitheater
1998: Alessandro Dell’Acqua stages his first men’s runway show at the Stazione Leopolda’s Hangar
Franca Sozzani and Luca Stoppini curate a special installation at the Piazzale degli Uffizi based on the work of Giorgio Armani, Jean Paul Gaultier, Rei Kawakubo, Helmut Lang and Yohji Yamamoto
1999: Roberto Cavalli unveils his first men’s collection with a show at the Stazione Leopolda
The Burberry Prorsum line makes its debut with a runway show at the Stazione Leopolda
2000: Neil Barrett stages a runway show at the Stazione Leopolda for the launch of his namesake brand
2002: John Varvatos stages his first runway show in Europe at the Stazione Leopolda
The creativity of Hedi Slimane is celebrated through the Intermission 1 Hedi Slimane exhibition curated by Francesco Bonami and Jèrôme Sans
2003: Viktor & Rolf hosts a performance at the Stazione Leopolda marking the launch of their men’s line
2005: Yohji Yamamoto, celebrated with an exhibition at Palazzo Pitti, stages a runway show for the Y’s line
Raf Simons organizes the “Icarus Surgit” spring 2006 runway show at the Boboli Gardens
2006: Maison Martin Margiela hosts a special event at the Puccini Theater
2008: The guest designer of the second season of Pitti W_Woman, Diane von Furstenberg stages a runway show at the Torrigiani Gardens.
2009: Thom Browne hosts a presentation at the Institute of Aeronautical Military Sciences
Giambattista Valli stages a show at Palazzo Vecchio’s Salone del 500
Proenza Schouler hosts a performance at Villa La Petraia
2010: Special guest of the sixth edition of Pitti W, Haider Ackermann stages the “A Carte Blanche named Opium – Wardrobe for Men… & Women” at Palazzo Corsini
Creative director Raf Simons unveils the Jil Sander 2011 men’s collection with a runway event at Villa Gamberaia
2011: Rodarte presents a special collection in a space formerly occupied by Bottega Bartolini
2012: Maria Grazia Chiuri and Pierpaolo Piccioli stage a runway show at Palazzo Corsini to present the Valentino men’s fall 2012 collection.
Stone Island inaugurates an exhibition at the Stazione Leopolda to celebrate its 30th anniversary.
2013: Kenzo, designed by creative directors Carol Lim and Humberto Leon, organizes a runway show at San Lorenzo’s covered market to unveil their fall 2013 collection
Stella Jean launches her men’s line with a runway show at the Dogana venue
2014: The Gucci Museum celebrates the 60th anniversary of the Florentine Center for Italian Fashion
Co-creative directors Murray Scallon and Paul Surridge make their debit at Z Zegna with a runway show at the Stazione Leopolda
2015: Marni, designed by Consuelo Castiiglioni, launches its men’s line with a runway show at the Marino Marini Museum
Katy Perry sits front row at the spring 2016 runway show of her friend Jeremy Scott, creative director of the Moschino brand
2016: Guest designer Gosha Rubchinskiy stages his spring 2017 runway show at the Manifattura Tabacchi
Karl Lagerfeld inaugurates the “Karl Lagerfeld Vision of Fashion” at Palazzo Pitti
2017: JW Anderson hosts its men’s spring 2018 runway show at Villa La Pietra on the Florence hilltops
Virgil Abloh unveils his Off-White spring 2018 collection with a runway show at the forecourt of Florence’s Palazzo Pitti
2018: Brooks Brothers kicks off the celebrations of its 200th anniversary with a runway show at Palazzo Vecchio’s Salone dei Cinquecento
Paul Surridge showcases his first Roberto Cavalli men’s collection with a runway show at the Florence Certosa.
2019: Glenn Martens presents his fall 2019 men’s collection for Y/Project with a runway show at Santa Maria Novella
Clare Waight Keller hosts her first stand-alone men’s show for Givenchy
2020: Jil Sander creative directors Lucie and Luke Meier stage their fall 2020 men’s collection at Santa Maria Novella
Telfar’s Telfar Clemens makes his debut at Pitti Uomo with a runway show at Palazzo Corsini
Dolce & Gabbana present their Alta Moda, Alta Sartoria and Alta Gioielleria collections with a series of events.