On the flight to Florence I was seated next to two hard-nosed suited and booted types, albeit clad immaculately pressed-then-intentionally-creased shirts and roll-hemmed chinos with three inches of ankle exposed. They resembled Italian mafiosi on an extended Riviera holiday. Ironically, their business was suiting and booting rather than cement shoes - the only mafia they belonged to was the fashion mafia (not that that isn't a deadly breed when it wants to be). Their conversation was entirely fashion-focused - but rather than expounding the delights of Givenchy's latest or indulging in idle gossip, it was all hard facts and figures. No black, we're pushing navy; red and green stripe or blue with white; these are the colours for S/S 2013.
That underlines what Pitti Immagine is really about - business. Big business - billions of dollars in fashion revenue flowing through the thousands of stands that cluster in the Pitti Immagine pavilions. The Immagine part, however, is what the press come to see - the guest designers, the specially-devised spectacles innovatively cooked-up to enliven the somewhat staid trade fair. Navy suits may be in for the mass-market, as my neighbour on the plane asserted, but they're nothing for fashion journalists to write home about.
This season, that Immagine comes from two American labels - Band Of Outsiders, and Rodarte, who stage their site-specific shows over the next two days. Scott Sternberg presents the Band Of Outsiders mens and womenswear, including the 2012 Resort collection, and Kate and Laura Mulleavy of Rodarte show a specially created collection to close the fair in style on Thursday.
More to come very shortly. This evening's entertainment is a performance titled 'Vestirsi Da Uomo' (Dressed Like A Man) devised by Olivier Saillard of the Musée Galliera, turning the spotlight on a group of menswear firms but with a definite feminine twist. Fitting given the focus of Pitti, it feels.