Wool leads the Pitti Uomo dance-off

18 January 2017

There were several themes favouring wool at Pitti Uomo, Florence, where, as Janet Prescott discovered, the catchy name for the season’s offering was Pitti Dance-Off.

Many were instigated by creatives working with Merino wool at major brands, identified as the fibre which ticks off the current preoccupations with performance, and also having a solo role leading fashion in new directions, including golf knits in H2Dry Zegna Baruffa yarn with wash and tumble qualities at Alan Paine.

Tech Merino with texture and luxury. ALL PHOTOS: Vanni Bassetti.

Directions identified in the detailed collaborative work effectuated by The Wool Lab for the Autumn/Winter 2017/18 season were drivers for the major trends, not just in the classic areas but firmly in young fashion collections and active athleisure spheres. More new fabrics are cleverly constructed with Merino wool yarns, so that top-quality indigo denims are quite likely to feature Merino, as at Z Zegna with an impressively directional collection of highly performing TechnoMerino designs. Add to that the number of Merino base-layers, mid-layers and systems which control the climate of the body and wool takes on new roles in clothing, sometimes in partnership with advanced man-mades for particular fabric qualities.

Red and black big wool at Woolrich.

Outer-wear fabric for the many duffle coats and mid-length double-breasted overcoats was double face or bonded to other layers. They could be knitted or woven, brushed, combed, boiled and felted. Classic Italian labels also played about with different finishes and weights in brighter colours for athleisure, with sporty pants teamed with tailored jackets. Checks abounded and large windowpanes for coats and trousers were colourful, with busy designs. Rugged maritime jackets in navy Melton and thick weaves were worn with heavy duty dark cabled sweaters, often with roll necks, a masculine, clean look. In contrast, Woolrich was using bold red and black checks for both men’s and women’s coats.

Digel checks in fancy fabric.

Thicker wool classic knitwear bounced onto the style stage, but often altered, treated with silicone for shiny looks, felted and brushed for extra warmth. Knits included genderless designs, such as voluminous coats, wide flowing knitted trousers, skirts and all-wool rucksacks at Sansovino 6 shown with verve as they literally danced down the catwalks in a multicultural fest. 

Accessories were key, a growing flamboyant part of menswear including shawls and large patterned scarves. Collections to serve a man for 24 hours with appropriate outfits were common: Sands, Copenhagen presented floral shirts, unconstructed Merino wool jackets and fancy-stitched wool knits in the season’s key highlight, ginger. Orange and ginger were frequent highlights, scoring highly in collections such as Digel’s colourful Merino wool suits with excellent performance aimed at the international traveller.  

PS by Paul Smith - Fantasy socks.

The revamped brand PS by Paul Smith – who was Pitti Uomo’s special invitee - lived up to its promise with edgy suits in worsted wool, shown on the catwalk being bent and stretched by extraordinarily supple and inventive athletic dancers and gymnasts, impressive proof of wool’s versatility and quality. Brighter colours for knitted hats and socks in the PS collection stood in contrast to dark greys, blacks and mineral tones generally. Bright pink, turquoise, yellow, green and red were used as accent colours with bullish confidence. 

A nod to the 60s from PS by Paul Smith.

Merino wool emerged as a versatile star of the season, whether teamed with other warm animal fibres and techno man-mades or as a soloist in a lively Pitti Uomo.