“For me it’s the perfect serendipitous moment. I’d been looking to do a show and I wanted to do something very special, and then the invitation came,” said Givenchy’s Clare Waight Keller, who for her debut stand-alone men’s runway display on Wednesday evening in Florence, as the special guest of the Pitti Uomo trade show, chose the luxuriant gardens of the Villa Palmieri as the stage for a collection fusing Old and New World aesthetics. The storyline was fed through a minimalist, Nineties filter, with a focus on clean, monochromatic total looks. It was easy to see the commercial potential in the line, which felt very urban and of the moment, with the airy, summery mood extending to the 30 tailoring silhouettes.
The designer sent out endless variations on the suit with a wide diversity of fits, including the return to the three-button silhouette with a slightly softer shoulder and a subtly pearlized luster in the fabric; boxy silhouettes echoed on shirts with drop sleeves, and a spin on the three-piece suit, pairing a coat with a matching jacket worn over bare skin. Waight Keller also included a couple of girls in the lineup, cementing the collection’s de facto genderless feel, with everything melting into one message.
Sneakers — including two limited-edition variations on Onitsuka Tiger’s iconic Nippon Made Mexico 66 shoe due to go on sale the day after the show, marking the kick-off of a long-term collaboration between the brands — completed all the looks, going from techno sock-style sneakers to more vintage-looking styles.
The outerwear added a soft contrast to the hardness of the suits, with long parkas in perforated, parachute-y materials, and a sense of liquidity climaxing in floor-sweeping parkas resembling filmy opera coats, dusted with old school calligraphy, and the nylons in richly hued, high-shine velvet finishes, one of a number of nods to hyper-modern Asian influences in the show. Kayaking-inspired pieces reinterpreted in hyper-light membrane nylons were used for layering, “almost like new T-shirts.”
The subtly dosed culture-clash references continued on the religious iconography in the jewelry and raver influences, with sleeveless super-tight compression tops worn under suits. Some of the models wore single pearl earrings, giving a Renaissance note. A British attitude was also palpable, underscored by the Liam Gallagher-style haircuts.
Time for romance came in the dusty pink and rose-petal tones, the tapestry-inspired jackets and Charles Baudelaire-inspired florals, also revisited in a pixelized black-and-white version on a coat.
But after the recent torrent of streetwear, all the maximalism and logos, the palette-cleanser collection — presented in the open air on the hilltops overlooking Florence — essentially served as a clear indication of where men’s wear is headed: toward a very clean, sartorial palette with touches of sporty elements.