MP Massimo Piombo Spring 2017 Menswear
The MP Massimo Piombo flagship store was originally designed by Gae Aulenti—not as a shop, mind. And it still doesn’t feel like one. Piombo installed plants and painted the space a signature shade of blue—okay, Yves Klein named it first, but the pigment is decidedly Piombo. Otherwise, the narrow, high-stacked space of Aulenti’s studios remains as was. As a store, it challenges your received notions of a retail environment—rather than simply walking in and through to the back, the stacked mezzanines mean you go in, then double back on yourself, up steep staircases. It’s worth a visit, to make the voyage through the deep Piombo-blue yonder.
Voyaging was Piombo’s inspiration for Spring. It was the fantasy of the exotic rather than its actuality that inspired him, Piombo said. It was most evident in garments evocative of otherness—Mao jackets, caftans over trousers, djellabas scrolled with embroidery. Piombo cited inspirations as varied as Mick Jagger and Christian Bérard. The most interesting element of his voyage, however, related directly to Aulenti’s environs—the idea of looking at the old, and seeing it anew. Piombo did that by using heritage fabrics in unconventional ways—a barathea wool so lightly tailored it felt like chiffon; an evening jacket in a silk and linen mix, with a facing of faille running from the lapel through the hem. It was, he asserted, nothing new. Rather, it was the way jackets were constructed 100 years ago.
That’s appealing to a luxury customer—the notion of tradition, of reviving old-age and age-old methods of construction without the modern introduction of cost-cutting and corner-cutting. The fabric of that jacket, incidentally, was woven on the same French looms used to create the brocades that hang on the walls of Versailles. It was laid against a cotton shirt and a bow tie with an African-influenced wood-block print, alongside a rough, unwashed Irish linen robe. Other clothes came from Belgium, a hardy chambray from America, wool from England, and, of course, plenty more from Italy. Piombo called it a “Piombo cocktail” of different cultures and tastes, of old and new.
That cocktail bears some selective tasting—taking apart of outfits, investigating, feeling the textures of the textiles, and trying the jackets on for fit. And although it harked back to an old school of elegance—when men still habitually wore bow ties and those faille-faced jackets for evening—it didn’t feel retro. “Vintage is a boring concept,” said Piombo, in a vintage shop that, like his tradition-tinged clothes, felt anything but. “New generation, new mix, new cocktail.”