Like a Florentine gingerbread house, the red and green façade of the Mercato Centrale di San Lorenzo stood glistening under the grey Italian skies yesterday, its market doors open wide to welcome guests for the Kenzo A/W13 men’s show.
Since their takeover in April last year, the house’s creative directors Humberto Leon and Carol Lim have hand-picked a slew of unconventional locations – from the colour-coded halls of the Pierre & Marie Curie university to the tatami mats of a Parisian judo club – and a bustling produce market in Florence seemed no pale addition to that list. As the guest menswear designer for Pitti Uomo, Kenzo’s dynamic duo have clearly embraced the city’s fare, and the enthusiasm woven around their choice of venue was genuinely charming.
"A hand painted cloud print that would evolve from day to night through the show’s progression"
Outside amidst the flurry of the tradeshow's colourful menswear crowd, swirls of blue fairy floss were passed around from Caffé Corsini’s foodtruck (Kenzo loves those too), later proving a telling clue to the collection’s dominant motif – a hand painted cloud print that would evolve from day to night through the show’s progression. Bypassing the market’s bright stalls stacked high with cheeses and hanging salamis; guests were welcomed onto a vacant second story, as producer Villa Eugenie’s artistic license extended the market’s columns of cooking steam (or was it those clouds again?) through the central stairwells. Woollen flight blankets and an instant heat-pack on the seats prepped the crowd as well as any inflight service call.
Entitled “The Jungle of the Sky”, the designers’ 3rd menswear outing toned down the kitsch and turned up the tech factor, with heavenly inspirations divined within those countless hours of plane travel that Lim and Leon’s transcontinental lifestyle now requires. Revolving around variations on those hand-painted clouds (pale blue for morning, rusty sunsets and an ‘evening’ gunmetal), the duo sent out ‘cloud-camo’ parkas, pilot’s jackets, hard-shell utility cases and zippered mountain boots that channeled the theme of high-altitude exploration. Padded overcoats in parachute or even teddy fur fabrics lent a bold, boxy silhouette to skinny trousers, while rainslick paneled tailoring in coppery shantung, navy and deep green referenced the uniforms of airborn superheroes. Marching to Jamie XX’s live-mixed soundtrack in that dark, vacant bazaar, those boys were ready for takeoff.
The Mercato Centrale is located on the Piazza San Lorenzo, Florence, Italy.
Text by Dan Thawley