A Creative Mini-Guide to Colourful Florence: Post-Pitti Uomo '92 Edition
18th June, 2017
With the technicoloured bloom that was Pitti Uomo 92 having fulfilled the final stage of its life cycle, there could be no question that this pinnacle of fashion-enthused Florence is welcoming greater numbers of experimental sartorialists than perhaps ever before. Each bi-annual incarnation sees Florentine dwellers await with (partially) feigned insouciance as a sea of rich navy suits and subtle cerulean shirts descend upon the city's meandering streets. Yet this abundance of "neutral" dressing in 40 shades of blue was juxtaposed, to striking effect, by a fashion-forward band of colour hunters; an international gathering armed with shots of cherry red and canary yellow. Aided in part by the colour-popping characteristics of this latest edition's central theme, "Boom! Pitti Blooms", which saw Fortezza Da Basso enveloped in vibrant prints of playfully-sketched flora, the magnetism of these dressers was not solely thanks to their vivid attire of choice, but in their unmistakable presence and persona (both aspects linked to their embracing of sprezzatura).
This was achieved most notably by the dynamic duo of Jake McCabe & Niamh O'Donoghue: Dublin-based creative talents with intrinsically-international mindsets. They single-handedly set Day One of Pitti Uomo alight with their eye-catching suit combos - Jake's in a rich but brightly-coloured mauve, Niamh's in a striking cherry-blossom pink - having claimed the crown of most stylish "relationship goals" by the New York Times Fashion, whose Instagram is fuelled by a 2.2 million-strong fanbase. An additional, favoured snapshot from Pitti's inaugural day saw the Irish couple join forces with Trevor Stuurman & Kwena Baloyi, an equally stylish coupling that hails from South Africa, for a head-turning shot worthy of inclusion in any future ad campaigns.
These innovative fashion purveyors may have brought a breath of fresh air amongst Pitti Uomo's tailoring scene with their vibrant ensembles, but they also reflected the wealth of colour-filled, design-centred haunts peppering both sides of the Arno. After an intensive week of high-profile collection presentations and exhibition openings, there could be no better means of keeping creativity levels flowing by perusing these hubs of inspiration. Compiled to satisfy both long-established Pitti attendees and newcomers to Florence's burgeoning creative scene, take a trip through these hidden gems and you'll nevermore stray onto the tourist trails:
This Oltrarno-based art gallery and creative boutique - whose collections are brimming with eclecticism - holds partial responsibility for igniting my Florentine love affair, specifically with the city's highly-imaginative southern quarters. An ideal spot for inspiring window-shopping (and quality-driven purchasing) its owner Leonardo juxtaposes vivid textiles by the likes of Ken Scott and Fornasetti with an impressive assemblage of artistic mannequins and quirky, once-off interior pieces. Travelling through its three open-plan rooms, one can never be sure of what exactly they'll stumble upon; and herein lies the magic. My first visit coincided, serendipitously, with the boutique's acquisition of mint-condition wares from a closing vintage shop: a magnificent, voluminous organza/silk-velvet jacket, embellished with antique-gold buttons, was included in the selection, becoming mine for the accessible sum of €40.
Some 300 metres west of San Jacopo Show, one flamingo-emblazoned, black marble-enveloped bar has rapidly cemented its status as beloved Santo Spirito locale. Conjuring up flavour-bursting lunches and experimental cocktails with equal dexterity, Gosh* has more recently unveiled its competitively-priced aperitivo - a €7 nightly fixture from 6-8pm - alongside playing host to Creative People in Florence's suitably-inspirational gatherings. Steal away from the scorching heat and catch up on laptop work during the daylight hours, or wait until dusk descends before savouring some sips from their ever-evolving drinks menu. Widespread favourites include its basil, lemon juice & bourbon cocktails, in addition to the freshly-launched medley of mezcal-infused tipples.
A crown jewel in the fabric of Florence's experimental music heritage, this cherished, many-coloured records shop carries on the legacy of alternative label Contempo Records. The latter was conceived in the late 1970s and was quickly lauded for its championing of notable electro, gothic and industrial-genre musicians, clocking up admirers in both domestic and international sectors. As label operations began winding down, its newest incarnation - Data Records '93 - was born 24 years ago to the excitement of rare-vinyl collectors. Its Santa Croce location lives and breathes mid-20th century history: its hugely-versatile archive hones in on New Wave, Heavy Metal and Rock categories. These coveted findings are juxtaposed with the works of Contempo Records' alumni; displayed, rightfully, like melodic badges of honour. Come for a casual perusal, and take your time absorbing the psychedelic interiors - the back room's kaleidoscopic wall murals are harmonised with a vibrant jewelled chandelier.
Several paces from the heady surrounds of Data Records '93, this internationally-famed eatery is packing a colourful punch with its imaginative take on traditional Asian cuisine. Its unquestionable speciality lies in the rainbow of dumplings on offer: their flour shells tinted with natural dyes, the spectrum of shades begins with the golden hue of duck-ginger dumplings and ends with the beetroot-pink tone of vegetable dumplings. A well-established advocate for sustainability - from the prevalence of reusable bamboo steamers to the conscious sourcing of ingredients - the side-dishes also merit a spotlight, namely their delectable, chili-marinated tofu sprinkled with spring onions. For those eager to eat well and eat purely in Florence - even the most ardent lovers of Italian dining need a remedy from salt and schiacciata every now and then - mark this spot as your safe haven.
Marrying perfectly-preserved design heritage with tangible, present-day creativity, this porcelain manufacturer's legacy spans a staggering 280 years. Having long garnered recognition for its depiction of high-calibre, Made In Italy craftsmanship, a new chapter in its timeline began when Gucci acquired the company some 4 years ago. Appointing a then-unknown Alessandro Michele at the reins of its artistic direction, it's clear to see how the first strands of Michele's phantasmagoria pervade this new epoch of Manifatturia Ginori (now officially entitled "Richard Ginori 1735"). The Firenze flagship's offerings boast highly-inventive colour combinations - vivid blues, greens, yellows and pinks - and hand-drawn techniques derived from centuries of Ginori's masterful manufacturing. An indispensable choice if theorising a Gucci-themed afternoon tea, the boutique's adjacent glasshouse provides additional layers of inspiration. Its beautifully-displayed entrance door, adorned with richly-hued stained glass and lavender-blue flora & fauna, is undoubtedly a personal favourite.