PEA­COCK SQUARE

Pop­u­la­tion: too many

Men's Style (Australia) - - Manual -

IT’S NO CO­IN­CI­DENCE that the epi­cen­tre of global men’s street style is an ob­long con­crete area, about 30 by 20 me­tres, slap-bang out­side the main build­ing of the most il­lus­tri­ous men’s-cloth­ing trade fair. It’s the bian­nual Pitti Im­mag­ine Uomo in Florence, and for 45 years, it’s been the ful­crum of new ideas and old ideas em­a­nat­ing from the (mainly) Ital­ian brands.

In Jan­uary and June, for four ex­tremely neatly dressed days, that ten­nis-court-sized pi­azza, once merely a place to get out­side for a five-minute breather, a cig­a­rette, or a phone call, be­comes ground zero for what may be the high­est ex­pres­sion of sar­to­rial per­for­mance art. Var­i­ously named by menswear afi­ciona­dos—and with vary­ing de­grees of af­fec­tion—the Cock Pit ( sic), Pea­cock Square, and DB Cen­tral, it has in the past five years be­come a mecca for over­dressed young men (and old ones, too) with a han­ker­ing to be blogged or In­sta­grammed. Tak­ing cues no doubt from their Re­nais­sance past (see right), the “pi­geons” bust out poses to show off the cut of their tight jack­ets, pitch dan­ger­ously rak­ish an­gles with the broad brims of their fe­do­ras, and prop one foot up on a low wall to of­fer the per­fect an­gle on their dou­ble-monk-straps. A glut of pho­tog­ra­phers is ready to pho­to­graph any­thing that moves and ev­ery­thing that doesn’t.

That this hap­pens in Italy, in bour­geois-minded Florence, even, is hardly a sur­prise, and if there were a recipe to make a scene, it would go some­thing like this:

Com­bine in a bowl equal parts the Ital­ian no­tions bella figura (“good ap­pear­ance”); la passeg­giata, the civic propen­sity to go preen­ing about town at sun­set in your Sun­day best; and sprez­zatura, that old and molto- mis­un­der­stood chest­nut that has been quickly in­verted from its orig­i­nal mean­ing (ap­pear­ing not to care about your ap­pear­ance) to some­thing else al­to­gether (ap­pear­ing not to think about any­thing else). Then throw in a large dol­lop of so­cial­me­dia op­por­tu­ni­ties and it’s no won­der it thrives.

But the truth is it’s all get­ting a bit much— you be­gin to won­der what le­git­i­mate pur­pose these men have here, and where is this all go­ing? In an ef­fort to find an­swers, or rather so­lu­tions, to these ( de) press­ing ques­tions, Esquire teamed up with Pitti Im­mag­ine Uo- mo to hand­pick men at the show we thought are get­ting it right and stick them in front of a cam­era, but a safe dis­tance away from the Cock Pit. What we found (see the best of the bunch, above) was a def­i­nite re­set­tling of the in­stru­ments. There’s still a strongly Ital­ian sense of el­e­gance, and still a fo­cus on ca­sual tai­lor­ing, but there’s a bit more re­straint and so­phis­ti­ca­tion to it. In Pea­cock Square, as in life, some­times less re­ally is more.

— NI CK S U L L I VA N

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