Twice a year, the Renaissance backdrop of Florence becomes the stage for visions of the future, welcoming one of the most important menswear trade shows in the global circuit. From heritage brands to local and emerging talent, Pitti Immagine Uomo serves as a vital moment for engaging with cutting-edge design, transforming the city’s historical sites into fashion presentations, exhibitions and state-of-the-art runway shows.
Among the institute’s many feats during Pitti, this 95th edition witnessed Polimoda’s first-ever collaboration with New York streetwear brand Haculla. Designed by Tykoon Brand Holding’s owner and creative director Jon Koon, the label draws inspiration from street artist Harif Guzman’s Basquiat-esque aesthetic, centering its Pitti debut on merging the worlds of art and fashion into a three-day art installation and final-day runway show.
Students enrolled in Fashion Design Management, Fashion Design, Fashion Art Direction, Business of Fashion, Fashion Technology and Fashion Marketing Management – across all years – worked their magic in the organization of the multifaceted event. Following the institute’s December Rendez-Vous with Jon Koon, the undergraduate students were selected for the roles of Show, Art and Project Manager Assistants, beginning their collaboration weeks before the January presentation.
For art-related tasks, students joined Guzman in late December to compose five colossal canvases – over twenty meters long – bound to cover the entirety of the Dogana. Paying homage to the evolution of Guzman’s work, the FW 2019 collection show heavily interacted with the graffiti visionaire’s site-specific work, using sculptural installations as runway dividers spotlighted in the center of the space.
For many students, this moment marked one of their first direct involvements in the organization of a top-tier runway show, a baptism by fire into the rapid pace of the industry. “We had to be very orchestrated as a group,” recounts Art Direction student Dominika Fricová. “I suppose that’s how all the shows work: you try to organize the chaos. It takes absolute focus to achieve a success of the show.”
“It definitely injected a certain rhythm into me,” adds fellow Project Manager Assistant Gabriele Rosati, “a rapid, frenetic pace that pushes you from under your feet… Jon is a physical example of actually being what you do in life.”
From immigrant beginnings to millionaire by 16, Koon certainly represents how strong individual identity merges with passion and a knack for business. For students, working with the young tycoon was a key moment to grasp what it takes to find relevance in today’s industry, and why “management and creativity have to go hand in hand to work,” as Dominika explains.
Overall, roughly 60 students joined the troupe for show prep with Koon and Guzman, assisting with styling, organizing outfits and the logistics of setting up the runway, besides the handful walking the final show. The space was transformed into a gothic-punk wonderland, walls covered in blood-red canvases and coffins offered as gifts to evoke “the dark and hidden side present in each of us” (as Koon explains) – giving students the chance to experience a Pitti project from ideation to finale.
As one of the opening fashion events for 2019, the moment served as creative fuel for students like Rosanna Galeone, whose successful collaboration proves why fashion’s at-times exhausting day-to-day grind is worth the final product. “The whole thing in three words? Sick. Dope. Fire,” she describes, “the words that Jon repeated every time we created the perfect look… the words repeated backstage at the end of the show, when the anxiety was replaced by applause, hugs and euphoria… it’s the satisfaction of having been able to pull off everything we’d hoped to make.”