Where Pitti Immagine has excelled in the past few years is bringing in guest designers and giving them a complete freedom to do as they please, with full access to a whole host of sumptuous spaces that the city of Florence offers in whatever format they choose. Some rock the boat, some tow the line and go for the obvious but most embrace their Florentine surroundings and Italian culture with gusto to stage a 'one off' event that is strictly 'for Florence only'.
Olympia Le-Tan was perhaps not an obvious choice for Pitti W to choose as a special guest but anybody who has been to her presentations in Paris will know that the girl knows how to pick a space to bring her bags to life. She has made a name for herself with her embroidered book clutches and miniaudieres which has enabled her to play with seasonal literary themes and I hear in March, she'll be presenting her first foray into clothing as well. I do hope they involve embroidered quotes or the like. Sounds cheesy on paper but I'm sure Le-Tan could do them justice.
For her event at Pitti, she has created a collection dedicated to Florence and her time spent studying Italian literature and cinema at university. Once again, she chose another apt venue for her work, the Museo Bellini which has is a privately-owned museum, stuffed with renaissance artwork and objects. Arranged artfully in amongst the artefacts of museum, familiar and unfamiliar titles and authors jump out at you from her now-established clutch and bag shapes. I blame the English curriculum and my oafish ignorance for not knowing some of the works that were illustrated on the clutches. For some reason my reading has gone deep into English, American, French and Russian literature but have only skirted around Italian. For shame. Penguin classics clearly didn't do a good job selling them into me at bookstores.
Similarly, the films that were depicted in a series of portraits by Max Farago to accompany the presentation were also a struggle for me to identify. The obvious jumped out at me but I was a little sketchy with the others. Still, the presentation has given me impetus to do an Italian cinema DVD weekend as well as a visual reading list for me to plough through eventually. Le-Tan got her bevy of mates to pose in the photos including Hamish Bowles depicting a scene in The Damned and Olivier Zahm in Sal√≤ (looking like he would if he were to do a self-portrait for his own Purple magazine, no‚Ä¶?). Victoire de Castellane, Camille Bidault Waddington and Andr√© Saraiva join the gaggle of friends who all re-enacted iconic Italian cinema moments.
Even Olympia herself got in on the action with this Silvana Mangano in Riso Amaro portrait…
I'm not so great with the hybrid actress slash singer slash IT girl names but i gather there's plenty of them here looking beautiful. Le-Tan doesn't normally do lookbook shoots for her collections but given the themes and imagery that her books conjure up, these images make you think that she should do this more often.
My favourite portrait though wasn't shot by Farago and instead by Matthew Frost. Well‚Ä¶. it can only be Tilda‚Ä¶
The night was Olympia Le-Tan doing her ode to Italian culture but her Gallic ways also crept into the night through the soundtrack and of course, these obligatory fashion party treats‚Ä¶
On a personal note, I've still yet to take the Olympia Le-Tan plunge. They are insanely pricy but also painstakingly made. There is no machine-based process to her work and it's not possible to reduce the labour time that goes into each one either. Therefore, it would take a highly significant book title, preferably an early 20th century English novel to make me fork out the money. I well and truly hope the people who buy her bags haven't just chosen them for their colour ways and have actually read the book their bag is depicting but that's just me being a militant schoolmaster.