Although Florence seems a timeless city, styles change rapidly in tune with changes in culture. The latest cultural shift has to do with gender. Womenswear has long taken inspiration from menswear. But men are now turning the tables and doing some gender bending of their own. This trend, which began with the avant-garde designers, has now filtered through the beauty industry. With models looking ever more androgynous, fashion seems to be aiming for ‘gender-free’ status.
Silk blouses and tight pants for men are popping up on the runways and in storefront windows around Florence. Women are freed from the agony (and impracticality) of high heels, and although miniskirts are in evidence, they have sharp silhouettes. Materials like denim, leather and wool lend an inventive, geometric look while underscoring androgyny.
Accessories are consistent with this new aesthetic. Women are wearing severe backpacks; men are carrying clean purses; shoes for both sexes are flat, pointy and shiny.
For both men and women, the must-have piece to pull off the androgynous look is a bowtie. Look for the label Mani del Sud from Florence-based Vogue New Talents finalist and Polimoda graduate Raffaele Stella Brienza, who translates the classic bowtie with cotton, feathers, tassels and a touch of whimsical elegance.