Is fashion ever new? Or is it, in fact, a reinterpretation of something old? Is this the eternal fashion trick, to make us want brand-new items that are actually inspired by the past?
Florence embodies this conundrum like nowhere else, especially at this time of the year, when this small city becomes the centre of the latest trends. On January 11, Pitti Uomo, the menswear fair, opened. Pitti Bimbo followed with its mini-glam versions of designer looks. Then all the eyes turned to Pitti Filati, the yarn forecast fair, paired with the Vintage Selection market exhibition, which highlights the contrast between old and new.
On top of that, it’s sale season. All around town, fashionistas and regular Joes (and Josephines) are scouring the stores for the best deals. Now that the extremely competitive clothing industry produces on an accelerated calendar, i saldi di fine stagione (end-of-season sales) are now just one month after the beginning of the winter season. Shoppers can find discounts of up to 50 percent off winter items while still in the chill of winter.
The sale season is the perfect time to invest in garments and accessories, from head to toe. Shoppers should definitely take advantage of the ‘price war,’ but with caution: trends are so fleeting, your look may only last a few weeks. Thus, let me offer some suggestions about what to buy and wear to close out the current Florentine winter that will still be fashionable not only in spring but also in 2011-2012 fall/winter.
One future trend to bet on is ‘Byzantium,’ a golden look inspired by the ancient past. Studs, stones and shiny materials suggest opulence, while colours include all shades of nude-, honey- and camel-browns, bronze and gold with touches of vibrant greens and bright turquoise.
Hats, always a charming accessory, are so widely back on the fashion scene that the hat is the focus of a new exhibition at the Milan Triennale (see box). Florence has a prestigious hat-making heritage, and, just outside Florence, the town of Signa has been a leading world producer of straw hats since the 1930s. It is the place to purchase a new hat. I do not agree with old fashion, which stressed that hats are ‘not for everyone.’ Although the current chapeau trends are the masculine fedora hat and Russian fur hat, stop at one of the many stands in the streets and find the right style and shape for you and your look. The stands have lots of hat varieties at reasonable prices, ranging from 15 to 30 euro, so you can add attitude to your look and keep yourself warm.
Is there any better place in Italy than Florence to find a suitable scarf? Aim for one that is big and thin (cashmere if you can) with an ethnic touch.
For coats, black, green and camel are the colours, with army details and a belt. If you mind the cold, throw a cape over your coat.
A look launched last year, the cape is still a very fashionable piece, and in a couple of months, you can wear it alone with jeans and colourful bracelets for a great spring look.
Big knit pieces are also the consummate cold-curbing items: wear them long with leggings, or, if you are curvy, with a tall belt at the waist to shape a feminine figure. Wool dresses are soft and warm and, depending on your body shape, can be short or flair at the knees. Use them in place of a sweater/skirt combo and complete the look with a blazer. Sales are an opportunity not only to snag the latest trends, but also to get basics for less. Classic men’s-style pants and a white shirt are must-have items for any woman’s wardrobe.
Boots are still the favourite Italian women’s shoe, so get some that you will also be able to use in spring. Bags are soft and big enough to carry around all of one’s necessities. But a note on both garments and accessories: even if leather and fur are ubiquitous on the catwalks, please save money and lives by choosing faux.
Spring is around the corner, but until then, to keep your mood up, cover up! And, of course, look fabulous.
Cinema with a Hat: Borsalino and Other Stories
Until March 20
Triennale di MilanoViale Alemagna 6, Milan
Tuesday to Sunday, 10:30am to 8.30pm; Thursday and Friday, 10:30am to 11pm Tel. email@example.com
How to get there: Take the MM1 or MM2 to the Cadorna – Triennale subway station; Bus, line 61, Triennale bus stop.