The knitwear research area looking at the Spring/Summer 2014 trends at Pitti Filati 72 was entitled “Festa Fiesta Fest Festival” and was inspired by all those joyous gatherings that may be taking place during summer - from rural sagras held in the open air with dancing and games to music festivals.
The concept of the area was as usual developed by Angelo Figus and Nicola Miller, and was divided in different parts celebrating the happiness of collective gatherings and hinting at the rebirth brought by Spring and at the energy inspired by Summer.
The wide range of yarns (divided into four larger themes - natural, soft, washed and bright) employed to create the thirty mens and womenswear looks, mirrored the different feasts and festivals highlighting the great diversity of religious or celebratory practices.
The installation opened with a “Spring Woman” and a “Spring Man”: both their looks were based on stratifications created with linen, viscose and nylon blends in pastel colours by a wide range of companies, including Pinori, Be.Mi.Va, Filpucci, Loro Piana and Igea (Image 1 and 2 in this post; please do not take care of the numbers near the dummies as they do not refer to the images in this post but to the designs in the installation).
Interestingly enough, perhaps by pure chance, the woman's cardigan looked a bit like the colourful costume made with strips of fabric donned by the Jarramplas during the centuries-old Spanish festival that takes place on Saint Sebastian's day.
Viscose, nylon and polyamide-based fibres prevailed also in the looks that followed “On Air Man” and “On Air Woman” (Image 3 and 4 in this post). These fibres were used to produce very light pieces ideal for the warm season.
The most interesting elements on the womanswear look were the viscose knitted tapes for the top and the skirt decorated with a bunting made with a 100% linen yarn by Loro Piana.
For what regards menswear, the interesting bits were the shoulders of the cardigan made with a series of viscose, nylon and polyamidic fibres that produced aesthetically pleasing effects.
Mud, the leading culprit of many epic festival disasters, inspired instead brownish tops, cardigans and dresses and an elaborate bolero jacket à la Sandra Backlund characterised by voluminously intricate knitted motifs (Images 5, 6 and 7).
All these garments reshifted the attention towards blends of natural fibres such as cotton and linen or cashmere.
Religion was introduced in menswear via a top with sparkling metallic effects (in rayon, viscose, polyamide and polyester fibres) and in womenswear through a thin gauze-like dress stained with paint made with linen and with a Loro Piana yarn called “Stretchsilk” that has an interesting composition - 65% silk and 35% steel (take note, fashion and knitwear designers - Images 8 and 9).
The ebullient moods of sagras and popular folk festivals appeared in a sleeveless cardigan that played with fancy construction techniques and that featured circle-shaped elements (Image 10).
These structures, mainly employed for the menswear look, were made with polyester, polyamide and rayon yarns, while the womenswear matching design included a patchwork dress made with a series of different yarns and also included a blend of nylon and polyurethan rubber by Be.Mi.Va (Image 11).
Mexican culture offers quite a few vibrant fiestas and the customs, ancestral beliefs and cultural identity of this country inspired for menswear a brightly coloured raffia jacket with flower motifs matched with a printed 100% bamboo yarn top (“Natural Bamboo” yarn by Loro Piana) and a pair of shorts characterised by a colourful diamond-like geometrical motif made with cotton yarns (Image 12 and 13).
The bamboo yarn top was particularly intriguing since it looked extremely thin, but, at the same time, quite strong.
The womenswear black mini-dress with a mask created with appliqued cotton and viscose fine cords in a wide range of contrasting colours was inspired by the Day of the Dead celebrations and by the colourful and intricate skull art linked to it (Image 14).
The Palio, the famous horse race that takes place in July and August in Siena, Italy, attracting visitors from all over the world, inspired instead not just two but four different looks.
Two looks moved from the colourful uniforms of jockeys: a menswear jacket was made by stitching polyurethane foam with satin ribbons, while the womenswear design was a very modern and futuristic body-con dress (Images 15 and 16).
The other two looks included a men's top made with plasticised bamboo and silk yarns and a metallic polyester dress.
Both the designs moved from the flags and symbols of the seventeen “contrade” and the women's look evoked Emilio Pucci's Spring/Summer 1957 “Palio” collection (Images 17 and 18).
The military-style uniforms of marching bands were recreated in the cardigans with gold decorations and in a pretty dress in viscose, polyamidic stretch fibres and holographic lamé (again, knitwear designers take note - Images 19 and 20).
The latter produces a very different effect (check it out by looking at the following image - you can easily spot the holographic yarn) compared to that of ordinary metallic or lamé yarns while it still retains the classic look of a traditional knitted piece.
Elegance was imagined through the looks of two spectators or tourists and in particular via a man's 100% fine linen top (Toskolino yarn by Toscano) with appliqued flowers and a delicate dress in a mix of yarns (viscose, polyester, Peruvian pima els, extra kid mohair, washable wool, nylon...) with decorative straps made with beads (Images 21 and 22).
Wild urban moods were instead evoked in patchwork garments created with blends of linen/cotton/acrylic, viscose/nylon, while a womenswear top was made with mixes of nylon and polyurethane rubber yarns (Meg by Be.Mi.Va) or silk, nylon and acrylic (Rubbersilk by Loro Piana - Images 23 and 24).
The late '60s hallucinogen scene, the seminal Woodstock concert and artists such as Jimi Hendrix inspired the “Summer of Love”-evoking graphics on a roomy men's cardigan matched with a brown top embroidered with flowers and fruit. The latter was made with a paper and washable wool yarn by Sato Seni ("Harmony" - Images 25 and 26).
The matching womenswear look featured a sleeveless viscose cardigan with a detachable pleated hem anchored via a series of hardware-like hooks (Image 27).
It's pretty easy to meet people with large tattoos at festivals and there is currently a trend for faking tattoos by wearing second skin-like garments with delicate inky prints and drawings.
Two looks (“Skin Man” and “Skin Woman”) included in the installation attempted to recreate this effect: one featured a polyamidic fibres and polyester top, the other a striking asymmetric skirt in viscose and metallic polyester with the print of a sailor (Images 28 and 29).
The back of the womenswear cardigan was also interesting since it featured a motif that looked like a crossover between a tribal mask and the iconic "V for Vendetta" mask (Image 30).
Carefree 21st century Gypsies and New Age Travellers inspired colourful garments made with cotton, linen and polyamidic fibres that produced interesting effects and surface patterns (Images 31 and 32).
The final looks - “Railroad Man and Woman” featured raw materials (Images 33 and 34): for the menswear look they were handknitted together to produce a linen and cotton white top with black and white matching cardigan (slightly reminiscent of the techniques using for the costumes in Pasolini's Oedipus Rex).
The womenswear look featured instead a quite interesting top made by bonding black viscose with raw linen.
The installation was, as usual, very inspiring, though you felt that, given the main theme of the research area, the designs produces were just the very tip of the iceberg.
It wouldn't have been a bad idea to look a little bit more in-depth at the knits that religious processions may have inspired or it would have been interesting to move from more contemporary gatherings à la Glastonbury rather than from more classic music festivals or explore more obscure traditions and rituals like the Scottish Burryman (you can indeed almost imagine a Burryman inspired knitted jumper or dress...).
In a way there was something lacking in all that ebullience as if the garments had been put together with fewer researches in mind than usual (besides some garments featured techniques already seen in previous installations such as "Futurural" and "Renaissance").
At the same time, there was plenty to see and take inspiration from and you can be sure that some of these ideas, moods and stitches will appear soon on catwalk near you.
The biggest diappointment about the research area at Pitti Filati remains the fact that you can't buy these garments on the spot as they are just there for us to see new trends and carry on our researches and that's a real shame as some of us could really picture these garments in our own wardrobes.
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