Part of the runway’s role is to convey a collection’s mood and attitude beyond the clothes, but a catwalk can only go so far. Seeking a higher power beyond the runway, Fausto Puglisi collaborated with Armando Punzo, the artistic director of the Compagnia della Fortezza, a theater program in a prison in Volterra, on a dramatic set, nay, a shrine for his spring presentation and, lord have mercy, did it frame the clothes in a vibrant new light.
Actually titled “Shrine of Contrasts,” the setup was a veritable altar to Puglisi’s obsessions: the grit and beauty of Sicily and south Florida; the traditions and constraints of the Catholic church; Greco-Roman goddesses and architecture. Tattooed, shirtless men who looked like they knew their way around the prison system hung between cagelike bars decorated with crosses, roses, burning incense and statues of the Madonna, while the models strutted through. Some were dressed as molto italiana throwback glamour pusses in tropical printed dresses and matching boots, bourgeois but stylishly tacky in their outsize gold medallions and crosses. Others were roughed-up street girls, in denim and studded leather, a color-blocked track jacket or an oversize “Fausto” T-shirt worn with a thick black choker, knee-high black hose and glammed up shower sandals. Maybe they were behind bars to visit their boyfriends, maybe they were there to repent for their own sins, whatever the case they enjoyed getting dressed for the occasion.