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Suzy Menkes

Vogue International Editor Suzy Menkes is the best-known fashion journalist in the world. After 25 years commenting on fashion for the International Herald Tribune (rebranded recently as The International New York Times), Suzy Menkes now writes exclusively for Vogue online, covering fashion worldwide.

Has black died a fashion death?

Yoox founder Federico Marchetti interviewed in The Financial Times, May 2015

25 Июня 2015

Carlo Brandelli’s for Kilgour’s installation
Carlo Brandelli’s for Kilgour’s installation

Colour hits me wherever I look: Blue, yellow, mauve, turquoise, scarlet, pistachio or gold.
 
Those shades might appear together in one single, patterned dress. Or a few choice colours are targeted by the peacock male.

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Pitti Uomo attendee colourfully dressed

Pitti Uomo attendee colourfully dressed

Pitti Uomo attendee colourfully dressed

Pitti Uomo attendee colourfully dressed

 
My phone, my camera and my Instagram have been awash with vivid hues from shocking pink to Minion-yellow. This was seen as often on Florence streets during the Pitti Uomo men’s fair as it is likely to be in 10 days for Paris haute couture.
 
Salvatore Ferragamo celebrated their Signorina fragrance collection in the Orto Botanico Giardino Dei Semplici Firenze with an installation designed by Patricia Urquiola
Salvatore Ferragamo celebrated their Signorina fragrance collection in the Orto Botanico Giardino Dei Semplici Firenze with an installation designed by Patricia Urquiola

So I have to ask this question: is it finally all over for the little black dress? Can the look that Coco Chanel established nearly a century ago – and which was taken up en masse by chic French women — really be on the way out?
 
It is, of course, summer in Europe and America, a time when only a city office will coax women to wear boardroom black suits. I have no doubt that, come winter, black will be back in some chic shape or form.

Pitti Uomo is celebrating ways of living “in color” with a theme of “That’s PITTICOLOR!” one of the installations had the main pavilion filled with a myriad of bright colours
Pitti Uomo is celebrating ways of living “in color” with a theme of “That’s PITTICOLOR!” one of the installations had the main pavilion filled with a myriad of bright colours

But I am also ready to bet that colour will not altogether retreat but live to see another vivid day.
 
Lip Power

When Giambattista Valli decided to celebrate 10 years of his brand, he wanted to tell his story in lipstick.

In collaboration with Mac, Valli has produced five lipsticks, from Amal Clooney scarlet to Rihanna ripe cherry, all on sale from July 9. High gloss, lush blooms and a ‘Flower Obsession’ ball in Paris will offer ‘Giambo’ clients a make-up heaven.

Giambattista Valli’s new Special Colour Collection for Mac
Giambattista Valli’s new Special Colour Collection for Mac
 
Jewel of a Brand

We all enjoy the sparkle of fine — and semi-precious — stones. But British jeweller Tateossian went one step further by injecting colour into everything from beaded bracelets and necklaces to animals, birds and flowers at the end of a decorative pin.

I caught up with Robert Tateossian at the Pitti fair where he showed me some special wrist pieces in a limited edition to celebrate the company’s 25 years.

The stand was hyper-colourful with its tiny gunmetal or gold-plated creatures such as butterflies, turtles and scorpions.

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Tateossian pill jewellery

Tateossian pill jewellery

Tateossian pill jewellery

Tateossian pill jewellery


And for those who find colourful pieces hard to swallow, a collaboration between Tateossian and the Elton John Foundation with his partner David Furnish, brought colourful ‘pill-shaped’ pieces (shades of Damien Hirst in the Nineties) where 30 per cent of the retail price goes to the Aids charity.

Memphis revisited

The striking modernist furniture placed like beacons on the long stone runway at the Arthur Arbesser show in Florence took me back to the 1980s and the work of Ettore Sottsass at Memphis.

Arthur Arbesser Memphis design furniture by Ettore Sottass
Arthur Arbesser Memphis design furniture by Ettore Sottass

But the back-to-the Eighties influence ended with the interior designs — except for the bold colours.

Arthur Arbesser’s show in conjunction with Pitti Uomo Italics
Arthur Arbesser’s show in conjunction with Pitti Uomo Italics

The Viennese Arbesser, who has just been appointed creative director at Italian house Iceberg, and who was a finalist in this year’s LVMH prize, sent out an intriguing male/female show. Using geometric patterns and strong colours, he told a story that was a fresh take on Eighties androgyny.

Arthur Arbesser Memphis furniture
Arthur Arbesser Memphis furniture
 
Still Life

Thomas Tait was the 2014 winner of the Louis Vuitton award, and he is moving slowly but purposefully ahead.

Instead of the full-scale show with an artist in residence, he used Florence’s centuries old Limonaia in Pitti Palace’s Boboli Gardens to create a modernist structure with a few choice pieces.

Thomas Tait event in the old Limonaia of Pitti Palace’s Boboli gardens
Thomas Tait event in the old Limonaia of Pitti Palace’s Boboli gardens

The boldest were animal-print thigh-high boots, made new by the use of silicon prints; and a similar effect with patent leather spots on purple stretch material.

Thomas Tait installation
Thomas Tait installation

Throughout the still-life display, Tait named the manufacturer of each piece. The most striking was a ‘ghost stripe’ knitted sweater which was a mix of cashmere and transparent celluloid rib knit.
Other pieces included a leather biker jacket, double-faced and bonded with patent leather — and Tait’s own outfit: Italian work overalls bought for a song.
 
Foot Steps

Louis Leeman not only featured sports shoes in colourful stitched suede and bright leather alongside espadrilles where the string soles met precious animal-skin uppers. The shoes were also shown in a Florentine palazzo where frescoes competed with splashes of colour on the shoes.

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Louis Leeman shoes

Louis Leeman shoes

Louis Leeman shoes

Louis Leeman shoes

 
Transparency

The pastel colours of the jackets dangling among Renaissance statues were as ethereal as the stone sculptures were powerful.

‘It’s all about transparency,’ said creative director Carlo Brandelli of Kilgour. The British sartorial company constructed an illusion of pastel-coloured Perspex screens, where one single model stood with his dark suit in silhouette.

Carlo Brandelli for Kilgour’s installation
Carlo Brandelli for Kilgour’s installation

Mighty stone statues and semi-transparent summer jackets in pale macaroon colours made for a striking contrast.
 
Designs of Tomorrow

At Polimoda, colour, texture and intense decoration were key words for the end of the student year at the Florentine fashion college. Vibrant effects included splashy painterly shades for men’s designs, the use of colourful marking tape and rich ethnic effects. Painterly patches of mustard, flesh pink and almond green appeared on a long white dress by Alice Saltarelli, while other sophisticated masculine looks came as jackets and capes with embroidered patterns.


Alice Saltarelli from Polimoda the Florentine fashion School
Alice Saltarelli from Polimoda the Florentine fashion School


But just as black seemed to have been banished, a collection in that dark hue from swooshing hats to long hemlines proved that the future still holds a place for fashion on the dark side.
 
To celebrate its 80th anniversary — and a decision to open a fashion school in Florence — Istituto Marangoni offered an all-male show. Staged in the Palazzo Corsini, the title was ‘The Menswear Warrior Show’. The 16 graduating students, many of Asian origin, took a dramatic view of male style far away from the classic tailored suit. Wang Shiyi won ‘The Best 80th Mens Collection’.

Istituto Marangoni fashion School’s 80TH anniversary menswear show winner Wang Shiyi
Istituto Marangoni fashion School’s 80TH anniversary menswear show winner Wang Shiyi

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