Met at PITTI 84: Onitsuka Tiger x Andrea Pompilio

Andrea Pompilio is the designer who won Who Is On Next on his first season after starting the eponymous brand and now he’s the first designer chosen to show in Armani’s catwalk theatre during Men’s Fashion Week in Milan. The Blogazine have kept an eye on the designer for a while and yesterday we met the man of the hour for a quick catch-up between his two runway shows.

We meet again in Florence! How important has it been for you and your brand to show in Pitti?
It has been really important! Thanks to Pitti I have ‘grown up’ in an unbelieavable way and now after so many seasons, they are like my family! I decided to move up with my first line to Milan because I think it’s the right time for that, but in the same time I love doing something with Pitti, with my family! So, I decided to use Florence as the location for the Onitsuka Tiger x Andrea Pompilio collection and move forward with the Andrea Pompilio line to Milan Fashion Week.

Tell us a bit about your work with Onitsuka Tiger! How did it start and what has this collaboration given to your brand?
Well, it’s an interesting story because it all just happened. I was going to Japan and I was talking to my agent there about how I was feeling that I wanted to do some interesting sneakers for the last Spring/Summer collection, and they told me “Well, that’s fantastic but why don’t we go see Onitsuka Tiger to have a talk?” and I said “OK why not?” – and from there it goes! We created our partnership and started off with one sneaker model last summer and now here we are, one year later with an entire collection and a fashion show for both women and men. It’s a partnership that has grown very fast and we have an interesting relation. Onitsuka Tiger is a sports company while I’m still trying to create something a bit more fashion than just a regular sportswear collection. What we’re doing is really mixing the Italian with the Japanese culture and then mixing it with sportswear.

This season we were inspired by a lot of things related to Los Angeles. I went to L.A. and was really inspired by some of the areas and brought back a lot of information, and inspiration, from there. Beautiful emotions that in the collection take expression in prints – the collection is full of prints, something that also is a first for Onitsuka Tiger. The prints are on the sweatshirt, on the leather of the shoes, on the technical mesh – we are really using the prints, but in a very sporty way, and it’s what really shows the Andrea Pompilio mixed with Onitsuka Tiger.

And now you are chosen as the first designer to show in the Armani theatre during Men’s Fashion Week in Milan! What’re your feelings about that?
I am very pleased that I have been given this opportunity! I am, well we are, my whole team and I, very very very excited and I hope that everything is going to be great and that you will like the collection too! I’m pleased and emotionally touched by this offer – I mean, Armani is one of the biggest designers in the world. When I was still in school my reference points would be Giorgio Armani, Gianni Versaci and Yves Saint Laurent, so being chosen by Armani to show in his theatre in Milan is an honour. I have to thank Mr Armani for choosing me.

Two shows within a couple of days: is your pulse rushing?
I think that in this moment we completely stopped stressing. When the adrenaline is so high you don’t even feel the stress anymore, you just keep on running, running, running. I think the real stress is going to hit us at the end, when the adrenaline level goes down and the excitement is gone and I’m going to think “So what am I going to do tonight? Everything is done, I have nothing more to complete!” So at the moment we are feeling good: we are running like crazy of course, but we’re good.

We’ve been following you since the beginning, but what is your personal feeling about your “trip” so far? Has your way of working, both design- and brandwise, developed or changed along the way?
The brand has grown a lot for sure. From being the winner of Who Is On Next to the first fashion show at Pitti to the collaboration with Onitsuka Tiger to jumping ahead to Milan. So the first thing is just that we grow a lot. Aesthetically I think the message has been very strong from the beginning, I don’t think that I’ve changed “my man” – my man is always the same. What we actually do at the office is that we bring out each of the collections, from the beginning up until now, as an exercise to make sure that we are keeping our line, and in the end it’s the exactly same man as I started with. For sure sometimes the collection might feel a bit more heavy, especially in the winter, because there will be a lot of accessories. It’s cold and you want your hat, your scarf, your gloves and therefore the summer collections might feel a bit more minimal but it’s only because there I don’t need all those extra stuff.

Apart from that, my man stays the same. Even though we have expanded as a brand we have stayed very Andrea Pompilio. Sometimes there is another designer representing the name, but in our case it’s all about Andrea Pompilio: who I meet, my friends, my inspiration, the people that I spend my time with, the museums I go to – it’s a melting pot of things, but it’s all very personal.

What does the future hold for Andrea Pompilio – what’s the next step?
Oh darling, that is a very very very interesting question for all of us, because no one knows! Last season I had no idea I was going to be invited to show in Milan by Giorgio Armani! So for now I am very open to any surprise that may come our way.

Lisa Olsson Hjerpe – Images Alessandro Furchino 
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Tag Christof: Mountains Beyond Mountains

I drive America every summer. Its emptiness is the perfect respite from the hyper social day-to-day of Europe. A rest stop is the opposite of a café. A freeway is the inverse of a high street. Old junkers, exit ramps, endless skies and Evangelical extremism. Skinny dipping in a Kansas creek, Polaroids, parking lots, singalongs to brassy boozy bands on the switchback backroads of the California badlands.

But the temples are the dead malls. They are the the Meccas, the massive monoliths, sun-baked carcasses on the contracting edges of once-swollen cities. Surrounded by endless square miles of painted, partitioned pavement. Victor Gruen’s bastard babies, once auspicious and buzzing, driven to death by greed and genericness.

They are the casualties of the old, myopic capitalism. They are stunningly, painfully beautiful. Alarmingly quiet. Festooned with the rusting logotypes and label scars of once-proud companies. Burdine’s. Bullock’s. Montgomery Ward. Dead innovators. Passed away populists. The height of midcentury modern, now mired in miasma.

‘Cause on the surface the city lights shine
They’re calling at me, come and find your kind
Sometimes I wonder if the World’s so small
That we can never get away from the sprawl
Living in the sprawl
Dead shopping malls rise like mountains beyond mountains
And there’s no end in sight
I need the darkness, someone please cut the lights

- Arcade Fire, Sprawl, 2011

Tag Christof 
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The Biennale Backdrop

Venice, a dream-like arcadia of sun-drenched canals, postcard-perfect palazzi, vibrant restaurants and a unique art-scene that goes well beyond the Biennale, is sure to satisfy all traveling tastes.

It’s on the modern art front that Venice truly excels. Delight in Punta della Dogana, the city’s former customs house, where the outside view of the Grand Canal and Giudecca is almost as fascinating as the art within. Ca’ Pesaro, a white marble palazzo from the 17th Century, uses its Baroque façade to frame works by Miro, Kandinsky and Warhol. While the Peggy Guggenheim Collection, a modern art museum that was originally the private collection of the flamboyant American heiress Peggy Guggenheim, is perfect for those with a similar artistic flair.

Church lovers will be beguiled by Madonna dell’Orto – home of Tintoretto’s Adoration of the Golden Calf -, and San Zan Degola, famed for its frescos. Then there’s the gold-covered Basilica di San Marco, which took much of its decoration from Istanbul during the Crusades and, on the smaller side, Santa Maria dei Miracoli, a favourite of Venetian brides.
If you wish to walk (and sleep) in the footprint of royalty and philosophers, then take a room at Ca’Sagredo, a restored 15th Century palazzo. Overlooking the Grand Canal and Rialto Markets, hours pass quickly as you watch the watery activity below you. For a more boutique Old World experience stay at Ca’ Gottardi. Read a book on their terrace in the setting sun and prepare to feel luxurious. For an affordable canal-based experience catch the number one vaporetto from Piazzale Roma and make every icon stop along the Grand Canal. This journey is particularly enchanting at dusk.

Food-wise pay Osteria L’Orto dei Mori a visit. Found in Campo dei Mori, Tintoretto’s old stomping ground, this restaurant mixes Venetian classics with dishes from the South. Or indulge at ABC Quadri. Complete with an outside bandstand, that attracts waltzing retirees, and a blue mosaic floor, this opulent restaurant is the perfect place to watch the world go elegantly by. Similarly charming, La Piscina, near the old Venetian salt stores (that now house Biennale installations), allows you to sit, Bellini in hand, above the lapping Venetian waters as the sun descends. For something more casual, the cicchetti at Trattoria da Fiore and Cantino do Mori attract a modish, flavor-savvy Bacari crowd.

Known as the serene republic, this art-filled, flavor-rich and impossibly beautiful city exceeds every expectation. A slowly sinking wonder, it’s the ideal Biennale backdrop.

Liz Schaffer 
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PITTI 84: European Fashion Schools United

Lately The Blogazine has been busy in the world of fashion schools around Europe: in our special series, three out of six chosen schools have already been featured, with the remaining three coming up in the following month. Educational institutes are an important corner stone of the fashion industry and together with the Marzotto Group, the contribution of Linificio e Canapificio Nazionale and Bonaveri, Pitti Immagine is promoting a special project connecting three important schools together: Central Saint Martins, IUAV and the Florentine Polimoda.

Linen Yarn is the special project and exhibition put together by some of the most promising students from the three schools. Each school has been able to translate their universe and take on the linen yarn into a small collection shown in a common space during Pitti Uomo 84: menswear design with a dedication to linen, to promote a new and creative attitude to the fabric. The students from CSM brought the Englishness to Florence and presented a deconstructed and casual male silhouette inspired by the British heritage while the IUAV students present linen as an elegant option, playing with the codes of men’s evening wear. Polimoda – who more than being present at la Fortezza has also been busy with its own fashion week over at Villa Favard – showed linen inspired by the various ethnicities of Europe: volumes and forms were accompanied by prints and decorations.

Pitti Immagine has since 1972 been an important platform for men’s clothing and accessories as well as the fair and events around it are famous for being the place where many new menswear projects have been launched: for many young designers, Pitti is a starting point to something larger – a springboard, or stepping stone, to the world outside the atelier.

Lisa Olsson Hjerpe – Image courtesy of Pitti Immagine 
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Open The Gates!

Last April 2013 an unusual newcomer appeared on the stage of the Salone del Mobile in Milan. Not a new design studio nor an exclusive brand, but the prestigious 200-year-old State Museum of the Netherlands. After 10 long years of renovation this museum of art and history finally reopened its doors and, surprisingly, during their persistent period of absence the museum not only rebuilt the brick walls to house their 100.000 objects; they also developed a unique virtual project. The museum presented the “Rijksstudio” project as part of Droog’s 20+ up to a beautiful future exhibition in Milan, to a, for them, new audience: the design world.

In Milan, the presentation of Rijksstudio was inspired by the domestic interior scenes of painter Johannes Vermeer and set up in a small room of approximately 30 sq m. Yet, the idea behind the digital project is much bigger than the one room we saw in Milan. The Rijksstudio is namely an online database, a platform packed with ultra high-resolution images of 125.000 collection pieces, from masterpieces to unknown artifacts. All images are free to download, collect and share and moreover of perfect quality to zoom in on details, print on big scale, sample or manipulate and all of this copyright-free.

The museum’s goal with their digitalized collection and big launch during the Milan Design Week is to reinterpret “century old works in contemporary shapes, techniques and materials.” And in order to plug the Rijksstudio project firmly into the international design field, they approached the Dutch design label Droog to set the first examples. One of the most striking outcomes is how Droog turned the classical art painting Still Life With Flowers and Glass Vase of Jan Davidsz de Heem into a body tattoo. Another eye catcher is the lavishly decorated Center Piece by German silversmith Wenzel Jamnitzer (1549) that is now re-decorated with 3D-printed magnetic miniatures of the Rijksmuseum collection. Besides 3D-printing and tattooing Droog applied other highly modern techniques combined with material such as rubber, titanium, plastic or glass to create new designs such as distilling the Irmari décor motif of a historical plate onto four glass plates, which recreate the original motif when you stack them.

Of course the Rijksmuseum is not the first museum that shows its face during the Salone, but unlike the others, this time it’s not a one-off museological presentation of limited editions that makes the critics claim that “design is art”. And whereas one usually tends to write about what the eye can perceive, in this case the prototyped outcome displayed by Droog even seems of inferior importance to the story. It is foremost the museum’s initiative that must be noted for its experimental approach and creative usage of the Internet to cross historical art with contemporary design. Hopefully they have fired the starting gun for an equal footing relationship with a benefit for both the disciplines: collection pieces get a new (technical) boost out of the oblivion and designers are allotted the role of the new bearer of our cultural history.

Lisanne Fransen 
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PITTI 84: Trends, Talents and Turkey

We’re at the beginning of the third day of Pitti Uomo: a lot has been seen, with a few main events yet keeping us on our toes. New talents have been elected and celebrated in the fifth edition of Who Is On Next, the first notions for the SS14 trends and tendencies are given and the first, second and maybe third round of browsing for brands and interesting collections are done. Following the words of Pitti 84’s fashion diary writer – Angelo Flaccavento – Pitti Uomo is a melting pot. Standing under the Florentine sun, we would say the word melting has a double meaning.

Despite the brightest of sun rays the gentlemen at Pitti manage to stay well-dressed and polished. The dress code goes from bright colours and prints to tailored suits, further to just the simplest of super-easy outfits. A few strict shirt-wearers might have let the policy collapse for something a bit more leisure, pants have been replaced by the comfort of shorts, while others keep the tie knot tight. The choice of rigs aside, SS14 offers a few bold statements, essential wardrobe choices in excellent materials and Spring given in prints and contrasting colours. Attention to detail and small adjustments that can make a piece your own are well describing expressions. The contemporary man will find his very essentials as well as what he wants: luxury travel pieces answering to the needs of functionality, lightweight sportswear brought back to the city and new prints to bright up the neatest of outfits: the latest being the bandwagon that no one seems to have missed.

The cultural influences are coming from east: with Turkey as the Guest Nation of both Pitti Uomo & Pitti W, Turkish designers will give their take on cultural clothing nicely packaged in a contemporary concept. The “Gentlemen of Istanbul: 7 Gentlemen from 7 designers from the city on 7 hills” blends deeprooted culture with modern designs from a country that today is becoming an important player in the area of fashion research.

The two(!) winners of Who Is On Next are also – even though not Turkish – two brands who know about tradition and roots. During the awards on Monday it became clear that the judging panel hadn’t been able to make a clear cut, and the fifth edition of the competition ended in a tie: the hats by Super Duper Hats and the shoes by Casamadre went out as winners together. “They are two brands that share the ability of knowing how to combine memory and tradition with new and contemporary details, in tune with the market’s most sophisticated demands” was the words of the jury.

Despite the colourful audience, the hot weather and the many guests making the streetstyle photographers, fashion bloggers and fashion enthusiasts crowding up at the main entrance, there’s a certain calm at La Fortezza da Basso: casual meetings and moments to breathe before we’re heading to Milan.

Lisa Olsson Hjerpe – Image courtesy of Pitti Immagine 
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Sou Fujimoto’s Serpentine Pavilion

If design and architecture are bound to comply to a precise function, it is somewhat difficult to judge any Serpentine Pavilion. Conceived as a platform for architectural experimentation offered to widely known international architects who haven’t yet had the chance to build in Britain, the project, besides offering the setting for Hans Ulrich Obrist’s marathons and a pricey café, appears to be utterly useless. Nevertheless, much can be said about this year’s project, designed by Japanese architect Sou Foujimoto, who, unlike his 12 predecessors (among whom we can count Herzog and de Meuron, Zaha Hadid, Peter Zumthor, Alvaro Siza, Sanaa or Jean Nouvel), hasn’t yet reached the starchitect status.

Maybe precisely this fact allowed Fujimoto to build a pavilion that, even if not presenting a critique or an alternative to the apparent meaninglessness of the project, at least offers a fresh insight on the relationship between people and their surroundings, the natural and the artificial. Fujimoto’s pavilion is made of delicate white steel poles forming a grid, which at the same time appears geometrically rigid and organically fluid, scientific and natural, structured and malleable. In fact, more than building a precisely delimited structure, the Japanese architect has designed a system that translates in an architectural landscape, blending with the surroundings in a delicate synthesis.

Sou Fujimoto explains his intentions: “Within the pastoral context of Kensington Gardens, I envisage the vivid greenery of the surrounding plant life woven together with a constructed geometry. A new form of environment will be created, where the natural and the man-made merge; not solely architectural nor solely natural, but a unique meeting of the two. It will form a semi-transparent, irregular ring, simultaneously protecting visitors from the elements while allowing them to remain part of the landscape.”

Even though, like its author when speaking about his work, this project politely bypasses questions about the social role of architecture and objects, nevertheless remaining one of the most charming pavilions that London’s citizens and their architecture-hungry guests might enjoy.

Rujana Rebernjak 
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Color Me Impressed: The Replacements Are Back

Part of the charm of The Replacements is that much of their genius strikes listeners as unintentional, almost as if they’re discovering their own potential right along with you. That, and they always seemed to be having more fun. When news broke last week that The ‘Mats would be playing their first shows in 22 years this summer at Riot Fests in Toronto, Chicago and Denver, I started to laugh. I’m sure they did too.

Given their reputation as rowdy drunks who couldn’t even follow their own directions, what’s most surprising is that The Replacements actually managed to do anything, let alone emerge as one of the most influential American underground bands of the last half century. Paul Westerberg nearly single-handedly redefined the term idiot savant the second he strapped on a guitar. 1984’s “Let It Be” is by far their best album, far removed from the sloppy hardcore beginnings of “Sorry Ma”, “Forgot To Take Out The Trash” (a genius album in its own right, but even better when looked at retrospectively from the context of the rest of their catalog) and a million steps ahead of their previous effort, 1983’s “Hootenanny”. “Let It Be” found The Replacements incorporating elements of Americana, folk, and heart-on-sleeve balladry to play off of their familiar drunken shenanigans. When they strike genius on tracks like “I Will Dare”, “Answering Machine”, and “Androgynous”, it can feel as if they did it by accident, especially when nestled next to tracks like “Gary’s Got A Boner” and “Black Diamond”.

“Tim” (1985) and “Pleased To Meet Me” (1987) are both brilliant albums that could’ve/should’ve landed the band in the big leagues, but The Replacements were always better than anyone when it came to sabotaging their own career. Violations ranged from refusing to make a watchable video for their radio-friendly singles (“Bastards of Young”, “Can’t Hardly Wait”) to showing up drunk, in overalls, to play on SNL. Their shows increasingly frustrated and confounded viewers; most of the time they played terrible covers of songs by T Rex, The Rolling Stones, and Lead Belly. R.E.M. kicked them off of a tour after discovering that the band had drank all of their liquor. And on and on.

After “Tim” things began to really fall apart. By 1987 Bob Stinson was out, apparently for (of all things) out-drinking and drugging the rest of the band. (He died in 1995.) As Westerberg increasingly sought more mainstream appeal (unintentionally paving the way for 90s alt bands like Goo Goo Dolls and Fuel in the process, not to mention his own solo career) the rest of the band balked. The band’s attempt at mainstream play later in their career can be painful to listen to. “All Shook Down”, their last album, is by all accounts a Westerberg solo album, and is vanilla compared to what came before it. Don’t expect to hear many of those songs on this tour.

Sure, there’s room for worry: They’re likely reuniting because they need the money; Tommy Stinson has now been in Guns ‘N Roses longer than The Replacements ever existed; Bob is dead, no one even knows if Chris Mars is on board. But fuck it: how can you not root for The Replacements? For those of us who were barely out of diapers the first time they called it quits, this is something of a second coming.

Lane Koivu 
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PITTI 84: With Menswear In Focus

It’s the end of June and The Blogazine, together with about 30 000 other visitors, is back in Florence to sweat under a luxuriating sun: it’s time for a week of fashion and events, old friends and new acquaintances during Pitti Uomo 84 and Pitti W 12.

Last night was the end to luxury e-commerce giant Luisa Via Roma’s fashion bloggers party, Firenze 4 Ever: a beautiful dinner around the Fontana dell’Isola followed by an all-night outdoor party in the Boboli gardens of Florence. It might have been only a few tired souls who woke up early this morning, but for the ones of us who just arrived last night for this week’s main event, Pitti Uomo and Pitti W, last night’s party was a great welcome to the sizzling city.

Pitti Uomo is the annual starting point (well, this year beaten to the punch by London Collections ) to an entire month dedicated to the world of menswear. With nearly 1050 brands present (not counting the female fashion brands also exhibiting) and the before-mentioned 30 000 visitors, Pitti is one of the largest buyers’ fairs for male fashion. Even with the purpose of buying in focus, Pitti is an occasion for us visitors to take part in amazing events, discover new brands, meet new people and finally meet the people we only met ‘digitally’ before. For the nearly 18 000 people coming from abroad, it’s also the occasion to get their annual dosage of Italian summer and Tuscan flavors.

New for the season is that the ladies moved in with the lads: instead of being split in two different locations, Pitti W has been moved to la Fortezza, conveniently marking its land with a sky full of pink umbrellas. The main court at Fortezza da Basso is though reserved for what this year is called Vroom Pitti Vroom – the theme for Pitti Uomo 84. The fair is dedicated to the passion for two wheels and a rider’s feeling of freedom. The motorcycle and biker lifestyle will be spoken about through styles, clothing and accessories during special events planned throughout the week. Talking about events, the Pitti calendar leaves no one disappointed: the special presentations of kolor and Damir Doma, the Onitsuka Tiger show for Andrea Pompilio and all the temporary events included in the Alternative Set calendar, to mention a few. Outside or inside the Fortezza, the Pitti people’s calendars sure are full and the week has just merely commenced – vroom is probably the right word for the week!

Lisa Olsson Hjerpe – Image courtesy of Pitti Immagine 
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Multiple Facets of Limited Edition Design

Our times seem to go through a paradox: whatever looks “limited” has never been so hype. If, on one side, the design community seems to lose its faith for the universal ambitions of serial mass production, on the other it endorses niche consumption as a loyal expression of its fragmented taste. In this scenario, smallest enterprises are those who gain the greatest advantages, at least in terms of visibility. Differently to big furniture corporations, which are refrained by their organizational routines, small firms are ready to transform flexibility – a primary effect of the supply chain impossibility to absorb new design jobs – into a new creative attitude.

Nevertheless, we should not be mistaken about the eclectic identity that limited edition design has shown in the last decade. Its complex phenomenology, in fact, puts together different players that prove to have little in common: design galleries trading expensive XX and XXI century furniture with the most sophisticated collectors (the insight behind Design Miami’s success), little maisons d’éditions, makers involved in 3D printing, as well as young designers choosing self-production as a chance to combine personal research with a new form of intellectual bread and butter capitalism.

In addition to that, there is also a new avantgarde that highlights the links between design and craftsmanship. That’s the case of Pietro Russo, set designer converted to industrial, long-run collaborator of Pietro Lissoni and now freelance designer devoted to custom-made furniture. His talent in old manufacturing techniques and his passion for precious woods and metals are clear in his pieces like Piuma table, Voliera shelving, or Otto lamp. His work doesn’t begin with a sketch on a piece of paper, but instead is the result of an established professional assignment and is developed as a dialogue with a specific space, mainly a private house under refurbishment. Thus, his approach develops along the legacy of one of the biggest Maestros of modernist Italian design, Gio Ponti, guardian of the value of handicrafts who used to curate with an obsessive care the furniture design of his Milanese homes (Casa Laporte, the house in via Brin and later Casa Dezza), and who, at the same time, would have never designed any piece of furniture without an established commitment.

At the last Salone del Mobile, Pietro Russo showed his work in a collective exhibition that was paradigmatic to understand the development of limited edition type of production in contemporary design. The exhibition, entitled Juice, was curated by Cristina Morozzi, Michela Pellizzari and Federica Sala, and gathered together small design companies devoted to “limited” excellence: young editors (like Secondome Gallery, Colé), new web-based brands (One Nordic), and self-promoted design authors (like Form Us With Love or Massimiliano Adami). Its goal was to suggest us that these blurring boundaries are an unmistakable symptom of the vitality. And that innovation may be driven by the cross pollination of these different attitudes.

Giulia Zappa 
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