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Economy: Florence, the roots of "Made in Italy"

Economy: Florence, the roots of "Made in Italy"
 Pitti Uomo

Rome - Think Italian fashion and you are likely to think of chic central, Milan. But "Made in Italy" actually has its roots in Florence, where the hotly anticipated Pitti Uomo trade fair opens this week. The most famous men here may be naked - from Michelangelo's David to the sea-god Neptune - but every year the Tuscan city becomes the capital of men's fashion, putting on four heady days of ready-to-wear shows. The event, which kicks off Tuesday, is a must for buyers, journalists and fashionistas - drawing some 36,000 last year - who gather to gawp, gossip and go mad over the latest trends at the city's imposing Fortezza da Basso fortress. Some 1,200 brands are expected to present their autumn-winter collections at the 93rd edition under headliner Karl Lagerfeld, with old hands like Paul&Shark alongside newcomers such as M1992 by Italian DJ Dorian Stefano Tarantini. It was Tuscan businessman Giovanni Battista Giorgini who organised the first Italian fashion show, hosting a gathering with US and Canadian buyers, journalists and distributors at his home in 1951 -- largely in a challenge to French fashion. Then relatively unknown labels such as Simonetta, Pucci, Fontana and Cuppucci went down a storm and Giorgini replicated the shows the following year in a grand hotel, before they became a fixed feature at the majestic Pitti Palace. It was under the Pitti's glass chandeliers that the biggest houses - Gucci, Schiaparelli, Ferragamo - showed off their creations until the 1980s, making "Made in Italy" a byword for the highest quality and most sought-after fashion.
"Florence's relationship with fashion is rooted in its economic, political and cultural history, dominated by powerful craft guilds," says Angelo Cavicchi, president of the Pitti Discovery Foundation and the Florence Center for Italian Fashion.