A blast from the past

Vintage passion feeds Florentine fashion

Cassandra Brown
September 8, 2006

People have always appreciated treasures from the past, and the last couple of years have seen a global rise in the demand for vintage fashions.  Not many years ago, it was seen as something distasteful in the eyes of many Italians to want to wear items of clothing that other people had worn or that were ‘second hand.’ Recently, however, we have seen an increase in the popularity of vintage, and with this has come the arrival of stores selling vintage clothing and accessories across Italy.

Fuelled by the frequent sightings of celebrities in vintage clothing, especially from America and the UK, Italians, more used to setting rather than taking on trends, have adopted some aspects of ‘vintage’ fashion.  Part of this trend comes from the fashion houses around Italy, which have delved into past collections and archives to produce pieces inspired by the past.  Last year, Gucci recreated an exquisite pat-tern on many accessories originally designed for Grace Kelly.  Matthew Williamson at Pucci has also designed his collections with one eye on the past of the great man of prints himself.  This desire to obtain pieces of clothing from differing eras has filtered down into main-stream and high street fashions, and has further encouraged a desire to seek out items from years gone by.

People seek vintage items often because they are ‘one off’s’ and lend an individual a style that is different and unique.  Some people ap-preciate the quality of vintage goods, especially those that have been hand made.  In today’s climate of mass production and clothes and accessories that have been imported from factories all over the world, this is certainly something to consider.

Florence, although not often seen as such an important city for fashion as Milan, is nevertheless home to a number of vintage fashion stores and fairs.  Often coinciding with the Pitti Uomo and Filati fairs, is Pitti Vintage, which showcases a vast array of differing styles from around the world.  At this increasingly popular fair, pieces from big names such as Gucci, Fendi, Pucci and Prada can easily be found, as well as a number of handmade items, accessories, shoes, and luggage.  A popular trend among new and existing ‘trendy’ designers is to purposely design ‘new vintage’ items – distressed jeans and tee-shirts being perfect examples that are now mainstream.

The Corsini family regularly hold vintage sales in the gardens of their stunning palazzo.  Here the great and the good of Florence sell and buy designer and hand made items, more often from Italian and in particular, Florentine designers. Pitti Vintage, close to the Pitti Palace, is a treasure trove of items from the past, selling many big name brands, and is more on the costly end of the vintage market in Florence. Here it is sometimes possible to find accessories in exotic leathers, such as crocodile and lizard.  There is also jewelry as well as luggage, shoes and boots. Other accessories include belts, suspenders and an eclectic mix of brooches. Ceri Vintage sells a mix of brand and non-brand items, including Gucci, Louis Vuitton and Armani, as well as a selection of marine garments, buttons and emblems. Yves Saint Laurent pieces can sometimes be found in these stores, although normally more in clothing than accesso-ries. Lastly, Borgo Pinti is home to Maison Dumitru, which tends to sell non brand name vintage, from private labels or private collections.  It is a treasure trove of unique pieces.  All of these stores also occasionally sell ‘one off’ items, such as old cigarette holders or containers and business card holders, and they are great places to find exquisitely tailored items that have been hand made by tailors across Florence, and the world.Vintage fashion is popular among the huge numbers of tourists and students that come to Florence to study.  So much so, in fact, that Ceri Vin-tage has organized the Florence Vintage Market next Sunday September 10 at the Canoa Club presso Canottieri Comunali Firenze, on the Lun-garno Francesco Ferrucci, no 4. It looks to be a fun afternoon with a bar-b-que, music and free entrance from 12.30pm to 8.00pm. There will be vintage clothing, accessories, luggage and jewellery from all over the world.It is exciting to see that Florence, a city steeped in history, has reacted to a worldwide trend in vintage fashions, and has encouraged a whole new approach to individual and unique ways of dressing. With the arrival of more and more vintage fairs and shops, it appears that finding and choosing items from decades gone by can be a fun and fascinating way to shop.

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