The four fashion types you’ll meet in Florence

The Tuscan capital’s most eclectic tastemakers

Amelia Éclectique
September 14, 2018 - 7:00

While first-time travellers to the Tuscan capital may expect a city awash with colourfully clad locals, in reality most Florence dwellers don’t look as if they were plucked straight from a Benetton photoshoot. An innate desire to value function over form, accessorized with a penchant for neutral colour palettes, characterizes the locals’ clothing choices, adapted to survive the ever-swarming crowds and variable climes of their native terrain. Juxtaposing their understated style ethos are Florence’s eccentric tastemakers—a compact but impactful cluster, whose appearances on the city streets are as fleeting as they are fabled. Throw in the painstakingly considered silhouettes of contemporary fashion students and you have a melting pot of sizeable proportions.



All illustrations by Leo Cardini

An unmistakable presence from September through June, this ever-increasing clan of fashion students concoct each look in the likeness of stylist frontrunners: streamlined pieces in a spectrum of black, from coal to ink and all else in between. Their true experimentation manifests in the form of tactile fabrics—think flowing silks and lightly embellished lace—with the occasional garment procured from an obscure Scandinavian designer mentioned in class the other week. If H&M holds a design collaboration, they will happily drop hundreds on launch day, but most spenders have no intention of wearing said collection, instead waiting for sell-out time to Ebay-upload their purchases for triple the original price.



In jarring contrast to the Fashion Student’s careful conceptions, the signore fiorentine shop with the most practical of purposes. Clashing prints and unnecessarily fussy pieces are avoided like the plague, while those who regard each outfit as a chance to max out the colour wheel (yours truly, for example) are met with poorly masked disdain. My formative months in Florence—viz my clothing selections during that time—were the first-principles research that fuelled this statement: a flower-power, floor-length skirt from the 1960s was scoffed and quite literally spat at by one older Florentine woman, while a white linen coat covered in rainbow embroidery was acerbically declared carnevalesco by another.



From the leather aprons of luthiers to the denim lab coats of marbled paper makers, the no-frills Florentine artisan is a predominantly male breed, one that would probably laugh at just how considerably their bottega clobber has influenced fashion collections. Pitti Uomo 94 guest designer Craig Green, whose mid-June showcase made a technicolour splash, places keen emphasis on workwear influences each season, while the boiler suit—once the reserve of industrious tradesmen and Ghostbusters—has been strongly circulating in global fashion scenes for the past three years. Unlike their trend-following adoptees, the original wearers of utilitarian dress have no qualms with getting their hands dirty, coupling their protective gear with pale-coloured shirts and indigo jeans.



If Florence is an ivory canvas, this idiosyncratic character is an exploding paintbox, shaking up the sea of fawn-hued clothing with flashes of innovative hemlines and unusual fabrics. Often seeming like they’ve stepped out of a fairytale book, spotting a Sartorial Unicorn long enough to photograph requires David Attenborough-levels of precision, ensuring these camera-shy figures are kept alive through memories, rather than Instagram galleries. Florence’s most fervent street observers are always on the lookout, with perennial favourites including a 78-years-young marchesa in head-to-toe Gucci, a Buccaneer Boot-clad signore complete with a feathered cap and a raven-haired woman swathed in a rainbow of tulle.

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