by Stephen Garner

The Polimoda Fashion Show was held yesterday at Manifattura Tabacchi in Florence, where the best collections of final-year fashion design students were presented in front of a prestigious international jury composed of twenty-two representatives of each branch of the fashion sector to select the best collection of 2019.

On a catwalk illuminated with evocative projections through the windows of the industrial spaces of Manifattura Tabacchi and on the notes of a playlist featuring the track Supernature by Cerrone, twenty-two collections made their debut, selected at the end of the final course year and based on creativity, innovation and technical realization with the contribution of legendary Creative Director Alber Elbaz who assisted as a special guest in the selection of the finalists together with course mentor Sara Kozlowski, CFDA Director of Education and Professional Development, and the director of Polimoda Danilo Venturi.

Each designer presented six outfits as they completed the transition from student to designer and the first effective entry into the world of fashion. Twenty-two extremely different collections, each with a different concept, design and personality, yet all united by the same high technical quality and great passion, were met by an enthusiastic audience who applauded with fervor.

The jury chose the menswear collection “HERD” by Tuscan native Francesco Malandrini as the best collection of 2019. Timeless pieces that prophetically opened the Polimoda Fashion Show and that “aim to be a sort of inquiry about human behavior, where an archetypal menswear wardrobe is twisted around the dualism of compression and expansion; sometimes we experience sorrow almost by chance, without any clear reason or trigger: this fragile potential of ours tells a lot about our role and place as animals in this world,” explains the talented designer. Foam garments become both a form of protection and an obstacle to movement, while still-life prints, reworked in vivid unnatural colors, remind us of belonging to the “herd” and our common fate. A claustrophobic sense of loss and feral melancholy is the main thread that runs through the collection. “There is dignity in little movements, faith in losing. We are beasts amongst beasts, just tamed by everyday interactions and unpredictable losses.”

Thanks to the partnership with Pitti Immagine, the winner will receive the Pitti Tutoring & Consulting Reward, which includes a series of personalized consulting sessions with Luca Rizzi, Tutoring & Consulting Director, and his team, on the topics of portfolio review/setup, orientation meeting and strategy meeting, with the aim of supporting the young designer in the first steps of his professional career.

“We live in a world of contradictions,” explains director Danilo Venturi. “We use technology to make sure that what we produce is natural and we call it sustainability. We access content from electronic devices but we do it with our fingers. We spend more time in the virtual world than in the real world, but most of the images we publish and observe are human faces. We have beautiful landscapes but we want to do tourism in space. We are all techno-primitive; this gives us a superiority that is monstrous, potentially destructive, supernatural, yet cultural. All of this is also reflected in clothes and accessories because fashion is the mirror of society, and we found it in the collections of these young talents, who were able to give shape to their ideas and emotions because of their hard work. I am proud of the personal and professional growth of each of them. This year, the quality of the garments reached an impressive level, and I congratulate Francesco Malandrini for his victory; I am sure that we will be hearing about him very soon.”