It’s interesting how different people can view a space in different ways. I mean, this time last year at Pitti Uomo we were watching the Gosha Rubchinskiy show at the Manifattura Tabacchi — a Fascist era tobacco factory near the racetrack in Florence. Within that setting, the Russian designer presented a daytime vision of boys framed by the rundown buildings of the abandoned manufacturing plant. The look was very Pasolini, both in the style of the clothes and the spare feel of the surroundings.
Fast forward a year, almost to the date, and I found myself once again within the same tobacco factory grounds, this time at night, and for the HUGO show. But even if the address was the same, the venue had been transformed into a hauntingly theatrical setting, a place alit with fire circles burning, lanterns hanging from a tall tree and smoke spewing out of broken windows, at uneven intervals. I expected Tina Turner in her ‘Mad Max’ costume to peek out of one of the red lit windows at any time.
When the runway lights came on and the music started, it wasn’t ‘Thunderdome’ after all but iconic looks of a different kind that the models marched energetically down the catwalk. Comfortably sexy clothes in strong hues of cobalt blue, vermillion red, bright yellow, atomic tangerine, prints mixing it all on a sheer dress and top, the unmissable bermuda shorts suits in all black and all white, long slim silk knit scarves and kitten heel mules on the girls, sneakers and khakis on the boys and oh so much sultry to match the venue, I stood up and gave the show a standing ovation, joined in fact by my seat neighbors. It was good. So simple, so wearable and that good.
Don’t even get me started on a show that ends with their army of stunning models marching down the catwalk together to the sound of Grandmaster Flash’s ‘White Lines’. To me the HUGO show was sheer perfection. But it didn’t end when the catwalk went dark.
After the show, came first-quality champagne served non-stop from different bar stations scattered across the venue, so no one had to stand in a queue unless they really wanted to. The compressed cardboard benches that we’d been sitting on for the presentation were swiftly and easily removed to make space in an already open air, extensive venue that allowed for easy conversation but also walking around to discover. Great clay bowls of fragrant rice with a chicken and lentil stew drizzled on top were served and I smelled the scent of truffles wafting by when a waiter carried another tray, so that was available too if I’d still have been hungry. But I wasn’t, not for food anyway.
The ‘Mad Max’ feel continued for me, and it also brought back memories of NYC nightclubs in the late 80s, and a friends’ wedding in Rajastan where colored lights and the scent of burning kerosene intermingled to create the perfect setting.
Of course, a HUGO show couldn’t happen without some cool kids sightings like front row-ers Gabriel Kane Day-Lewis, the son of Daniel Day-Lewis and Isabelle Adjani, and the Hadid brother, Anwar, seen here flanking Luka Sabbat, the model and social media sensation.
The Hugo Boss brand has gone through some upheavals in the last year or so, and announced earlier this year that it would go forward with only two brands, BOSS and HUGO. The first is for status-conscious customers mindful of great quality, who wish to dress in a classic way but still look modern, while the HUGO brand is targeted at customers who are fashion-minded and want to express their personality through their clothing — the latter a younger, hipper customer I dare say, than the BOSS label.
The evening ended with a concert by M.I.A. who sang my personal favorite ‘Paper Planes’, a track I first heard in the Danny Boyle film ‘Slumdog Millionaire’ which of course, takes place in India. I left thinking that perhaps my sense memories about India meets ‘Mad Max’ with cool modern, wearable clothing thrown in had been right all along... We had been transported to a far away land, in a not-so-distant future and all thanks to the power of fashion.
So, in honor of my favorite moment at this year’s Pitti Uomo, #iamHUGO!