Tonight, Florence’s oldest theater, the Teatro Niccolini, will reopen after 20 years. And it will play host to a very different kind of show: a fashion presentation from the young designer Marco de Vincenzo, during Pitti Uomo, the Italian tradeshow here.
The Sicilian-born designer, who was selected as the event’s special guest for women’s wear, will stage a show of pieces created for the occasion. For the event, entitled “In-Lusionem,” the designer collaborated with the Florentine artist Patrizio Travagli to transform the space into a technicolor world. “The theater will become a kaleidoscope of colors, with the audience inside,” Marco de Vincenzo told T the day before the show, as he was installing the artwork
The Teatro, which was built in 1652, has been outfitted with an installation comprised mostly of illusions. Ten chairs in a reflective corridor — each a blazing hue of metallic leather — have been stationed on the orchestra level which seems to multiply into a rainbow of rows. When a guest takes a seat, his or her reflection appears in the glass tenfold — so that the audience seems filled with clones of the same person.
De Vincenzo transformed the space by creating several light installations with the artist Patrizio Travagli. Credit Dario Garofalo
De Vincenzo’s collection contains a run of painstakingly handcrafted intarsia-paneled suede pieces that pay homage to the leather artisanship of Florence. A cape, a pantsuit and three long dresses all feature a harlequin pattern of black diamonds stitched together with leather edging. The pieces change color in sections — a transformation that is echoed in the color-shifting lights of the installation. Onstage, five glitter-masked mannequins encased in glass wear pieces from the collection, their reflections moving as the viewer shifts. “Nothing moves except the light; all of the dynamism comes from the interaction of the spectators,” said Travagli.
In the theater’s box seats, chrome-faced mannequins stand like sentries, dressed in de Vincenzo’s iridescent, multicolor printed organza coats and dresses. The technique, devised by the designer, has spiky, laser-cut fringes sewn in strips onto a pleated base, creating a fur-like 3-D effect.
At the center of the balconies, viewers can enter a glass box, empty save for its shifting colored lights, where mirrors eliminate all perception of the floor below, and stretch the ceiling into infinity. Suddenly, you are floating in the theater, bathed in the mercurial colors of de Vincenzo’s collection. “We’re inviting you to enter into the illusion, to become part of the work and identify yourself with Marco’s pieces,” said Travagli. “I wanted to do something more extraordinary than a runway show,” said de Vincenzo of the opportunity Pitti Uomo presented to him. He first collaborated with Travagli for his fall 2015 presentation, when the artist’s sculpture — a transparent hall of mirrors — multiplied the models’ images as they sailed through.
De Vincenzo and Travagli in their installation. “The sculptures allow you to have many perspectives of the dress at once, like Cubism,” Travagli said. Credit Dario Garofalo
De Vincenzo, who received backing from LVMH in 2014 — and who is also the head accessories designer at Fendi — is one of the most technically experimental of Italy’s young designers. He has become known for his innovative use of new fabrics and techniques, which he creates in collaboration with fabric and leather artisans from all over Italy. The results are unfamiliar and undoubtedly modern: clothing with surfaces and colors that change with the effects of movement and light. “A designer’s duty is to conceive of something never seen before, to create a new experience of observing and wearing clothing,” said de Vincenzo of his rejection of “easy, fast, repeatable fashion.”
In Travagli, an artist whose principal medium is light, and whose sculpture installations shift perceptions with the viewer, de Vincenzo described encountering a kindred thinker — akin to “discovering in a poem that someone had found the words to describe me, words I couldn’t find myself.”
At the installation of the show, the day before the presentation, the artist and designer — purveyors of color — were both dressed in black, but their gaze was focused outward on the enormous prism of chromatic illusions they had created. De Vincenzo, a diaphanous organza dress shimmering behind him, looked out from a box seat towards the polychrome orchestra of a thousand illusory chairs. His blue eyes, and a fuchsia glitter fleck stuck to one cheek, flashed as technicians illuminated the modulating colors of the theater. “I could live in this place,” he said. “It looks like me. It looks like my imaginary ideal world.”
read more: celebrity dresses