After inviting Ann Demeulemeester to celebrate her career in fashion via an exhibition last June, the menswear trade show has invited Antwerp, Belgium-based Jan-Jan Van Essche as its designer project for the upcoming edition, which will run from Jan. 10 to 13 at the Fortezza da Basso in Florence, Italy.
The designer will mount a runway show on Jan. 11 at a still undiscoled location.
Born and based in Antwerp, Van Essche graduated from the city’s Royal Academy of Fine Arts in 2003 and introduced his label in 2010 with a collection titled “Yukkuri,” the Japanese expression for “take it easy.”
Credited for his minimalistic designs stemming from open shapes and free forms and stripped of flourishes, details and cultural connotations even when referencing African clothing, Japanese kimonos and medieval Belgian garments, Van Essche debuted on the Paris Fashion Week schedule in 2021 with a digital showcase and held his first physical presentation last June.
“I’m really happy, honored and grateful to be invited by Pitti Uomo to present our work,” Van Essche said. “This will be our first show ever, so it’s going to be a special event for us in any case. To be able to hold this first show in the unique atmosphere of the city of Florence makes it extra special, something I could have only dreamed of. We feel very much supported in creating the presentation and are very motivated to make it an unforgettable moment,” the designer added.
At first, Van Essche presented a single annual collection, coinciding with the spring season until 2013, when the brand’s business viability convinced him to introduce a second showing of “Projects” focusing on his textile research during the menswear shows in June.
Word of mouth and a biannual showroom in Paris have garnered him loyal stockists such as Dover Street Market in Tokyo, Japan; H. Lorenzo in London, England; Joyce in Hong Kong, China, and Stijl in Belgium.
“Jan-Jan Van Essche is a reserved yet emblematic figure in contemporary men’s fashion, to an extent that he would probably be the first to consider superfluous any claims of gender distinction,” said Lapo Cianchi, director of communication and events at Pitti Immagine. “Instead, he is interested in generating, each time, a different version of the same model of elegance and effortlessness and transmitting an idea of freedom. Being aware of his discretion and the attention he pays to maintaining the right balance between the content and the exhibition of his collections, I was not sure that he would accept our invitation.”
The announcement follows news that Martine Rose is also headed to Florence to unveil her brand’s fall 2023 menswear collection as the trade fair’s guest designer, as reported.
Pitti Uomo organizers are building up the hype around the 103rd edition of the trade fair, after June’s event suggested business was back in full force following a few pandemic-disrupted and digital-only editions.