Pitti Uomo is like a biannual menswear pilgrimage

Twice a year, the most menswear-minded among us descend on the ancient Florentine Fortezza de Basso.

Lauded amongst those in the know for its lineup of world-class brands, inspired initiatives, fashion shows, and super-soirées, Pitti Uomo is perhaps even more well known as the progenitor of curious human subspecies, the Pitti Peacock. Unlike the peacock of the Aves animal class, which displays its ample plume both to intimidate sexual rivals and to attract mates of the opposite sex, the Pitti Peacock presents his plumage mostly for the admiration of other heterosexuals of the same gender. While women in the menswear industry are far from scant, the fair is significantly better attended by attractive, often Italian, men. (Attending each season is a difficult job, but I am a team player, and I am always willing to take the proverbial one for my team).

For most who go, Pitti Uomo is like a biannual menswear pilgrimage, a not-to-be-missed event like the wildebeest migration or Celine Dion in Las Vegas. It sits on the menswear schedule between London and Milan men’s weeks. And while aspects of it are similar to fashion weeks, it is more than that. It really is an uncanny thing – thousands of people from the menswear industry around the world flock to the picture-perfect city of Florence, to a fort designed by Antonio da Sangallo the Younger for Alessandro de’ Medici, Duke of Florence (who else?), the largest historical monument of Florence, built between 1534 and 1537. And twice a year it is transformed into a menswear capital, filled with a panoply of these Peacocks – certainly the highest concentration of flamboyantly dressed men in any one location at any one time. What the unknowing multitude of Tuscany tourists must think each June as they stroll through the narrow, cobbled city streets and pass huge groups of men in colorful suits with double monk straps, cravats, and waxed mustachios. It really is a sight to behold, and at this, the 98th edition of the fair (it’s been going since 1972) there was a line up of events equal to any in seasons past. Guest designer brand Jil Sander showed a stunning collection in the Santa Maria Novella cathedral, with mountains of flowers scented by the historic apothecary of the same name. Brioni hosted a party to celebrate its 75th anniversary. Yves Saint Laurent and Ermenegildo Zegna alum Stefano Pilati presented Random Identities, his first independent venture. And my personal pick, the Pitti Uomo Special Project, Telfar, the US brand helmed by Telfar Clemens and Babak Radboy held such a spectacular series of events, we’ve had to talk more specifically on that in later pages – just you wait.