The year has barely begun, spring hasn't even sprung and the hangover from New Year's Eve 2010 is still lingering for many, but thanks to the fashion world's insatiable thirst for the new we're already plunging head-first into designer's offerings for next winter - that is, A/W 2011. The pre-collections have been bubbling for a few weeks already (including a stand-out offering from Phoebe Philo at Celine, naturally) but this is our first taste of what the Italian big-guns have in mind for 2011.
In my opinion, the strength of Italian fashion lies not in its revolutionary tailoring, the harnessing of creativity to commerce via millions of Euros (or trillions of Lira way back when), or its slightly more suspect - but equally as influential - marriage of advertising with editorial. The strength is in the coherence of its message. Hence our first glimpse of the Italian houses' A/W 2011 men's collections are a prequel for the womenswear, the brand image as a whole, and what very many people will look like come winter.
We start our Italian sojourn in Florence for Pitti Immagine. Primarily a menswear trade show, it also showcases site-specific performances and catwalk shows from guest designers - in the past, including Giles Deacon, Proenza Schouler and, last season, Jil Sander. This season, Italian brands Alberta Ferretti and Trussardi 1911 show specially-designed collections of womenswear and menswear respectively, while British designer Gareth Pugh has installed himself in the Orsanmichele, a 14th-century Florentine church, for a site-specific performance piece on Thursday evening. We will also be showcasing a special segment of the performance online exclusively on SHOWstudio.com.