Umit Benan and his Retired Rockers

The young Turkish designer hosts a dinner party of aged and relaxed rockers at the latest edition of Pitti Uomo.

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The Pitti Immagine tradeshow kicked off this decade's fashion week festivities in Florence with an ever-expanding schedule of events last week. Whilst Pitti W focused their attentions on Giles' pre-collection, Pitti Uomo were keen to showcase the next generation of talent which this year honours the up and coming menswear designer Umit Benan with a carte blanche presentation.

With his previous two collections, Benan, has always been keen on creating characters and a narrative opting for older role models to represent his clothes. His latest collection 'Retired Rockers' is no exception as Benan looks to veteran figures like Bob Dylan, Bruce Springsteen and the Rolling Stones to imagine his group of old rockers, who have experienced life to the max and are now kicking back and relaxing, demonstrated by the presentation of an imaginary dinner party where these characters reunite with some suitably young female company by their side.

This could have fallen into a cliched trap of the delusional older rocker reliving their past, donned in skinny jeans and black leather. Benan though, has deftly avoided these pitfalls with clothes that are as relaxed as the people wearing them with nods to their rocker past. Whilst looking ostensibly dishevelled, everything from the ankle length-coats to the set of lux pyjamas has been highly considered in terms of their cut, rich detailing and puposely-lived in fabrics.

Fortunately Benan wasn't too tired after hosting his retired rockers to speak to us about his presentation.

Dazed Digital: Where did the idea for 'Retired Rockers' come from?
Umit Benan: I wanted to create my own band but I wanted to do it differently. Basically the idea is that these are older guys are still active and still in great shape but even better than the younger ones. My (rockers) are retired because they are in a relaxed state of mind and they've done everything they wanted to do; drugs, girls and they're rich as hell.
Now it's time to sit back and enjoy life. It's a very relaxed attitude. Everything is very soft; fabrics fall and nothing is uptight.

DD: How did you ignore the cliches of rock n' roll dressing?
Umit Benan: I didn't want to do a rock collection that exists today. It had to be something more meaningful. For example I didn't use any black. I tried to ignore the usual elements. It's more like sartorial rock, my kind of rock. I didn't use any leather - only suede. I don't like seeing a 65 year old in leather because he looks like he's trying too hard to be young, too forced. I used a lot of vintage suede that fits them. Nothing is trying too hard and everything is very relaxed.

DD: You always focus on older men as models in your collections - is this intentional?
Umit Benan: It's not on purpose to be honest. I photograph guys and I see guys on the street. They have to mean something to me. I write my own stories and fit them into clothes and for me to be able to write well, I need to see something expressive behind that face. When I meet a 20-year old guy, they don't really have a past for me. I'm after someone with a story. There's something behind their eyes, something meaningful; bad or good. I don't like perfection. Plus all the clothes I make are very well-made and so it has to have a contrast. The equation of perfect clothes and perfect people means too much perfection. It has to be real for me.

Umit Benan video courtesy of thecorner.com
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