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Pitti Immagine: Rodarte & Band of Outsiders

The next edition of the Florentine trade show will look at both America's West and East coasts and their creative scenes through special projects with Scott Sternberg, Kate and Laura Mulleavy

There are still a couple of months before the next Pitti trade show, but there’s definitely an air of expectation in Florence since the special guests – Kate and Laura Mulleavy from Rodarte and Scott Sternberg from Band of Outsiders – were announced.

Deciding to explore the Californian creative scene came as a natural choice for the organisers: during the last few season's Pitti Uomo (the men’s wear section of the event) and Pitti_W (womenswear) invited young yet established designers who attracted the interest of the international press, showcasing their collections in unusual settings, from local factories to Renaissance villas. “We’ve always tried to invite designers who were interested in building bridges between different fields such as art, culture, fashion, film and music,” states Agostino Poletto, Pitti Immagine Deputy General Manager and Marketing Manager. “Our special guests contributed to transform the Pitti from a tradeshow into a platform that allows people to look at fashion not as a self-referential entity, but as a multi-faceted prism that absorbs and reflects at the same time different impulses”.

The June special guests, Rodarte for the Pitti_W n. 8 and Band of Outsiders for Pitti Uomo n. 80, will interact with iconic places in and around Florence, bringing in this way to Italy a bit of California. A volume of photographs by Catherine Opie and Alec Soth that looks at the inspirations behind Rodarte’s world will be published in June, while their first West coast exhibition, entitled 'Rodarte: States of Matter, recently opened at Los Angeles’ Museum of Contemporary Art. Inviting the design duo was a logical choice for the Pitti organisers, but also a way to challenge the sisters to showcase their work in a different environment.

“We usually take our special guests around to see some of the places where they may showcase their collections,” recounts Poletto, “but it has often been the case that, after seeing a selection of historical locations, industrial sites and urban spaces, the designers picked some of the most iconic places from the Renaissance. We’ve always respected the choice of the designers and actually found it very interesting because previous events in local villas and gardens allowed us to look at these sites with different eyes and also helped us creating a sort of chemical reaction between that space and the designs presented there.” 

The trade show-cum-fashion event solution has so far proved as very successful: over 1,000 brands and more than 20,000 buyers turned up at the latest edition of the fair in January that also marked an increasing participation from countries such as Russia, Japan and South Korea. “The most interesting thing in our opinion was seeing a younger generation of buyers coming to visit us, also from online shops such as oki-ni,” Poletto says.   

While there will be time to focus on future projects for Pitti, there is something that can’t wait, the situation of those exhibitors, buyers and journalists coming from Japan, a country shaken by the recent earthquake, tsunami and nuclear emergency. “Japan always showed a great attention towards Pitti and we always collaborated very well with its exhibitors, buyers and journalists,” Poletto says, “the country is very close to our hearts and we are currently in talks to see which practical actions could be taken to help Japan out of this sudden crisis. We genuinely hope its enthusiastic exhibitors will be back to Florence soon.”

The next edition of Pitti Uomo + Pitti W is in Florence, Italy, from 14th to 17th June.