After Much Wooing, Valentino to Show Menswear at Pitti Trade Show

At a lunch for New York editors on Thursday, Pitti Immagine CEO Raffaello Napoleone kicked off his description of the upcoming season at the Florence-based trade show with a toast to the new Italian government.

"We believe the country is very strong, especially in fashion," he said.

Pitti has grown its influence on the fashion calendar thanks to its innovations -- e-Pitti, launched last June, offers visitors a virtual access to the event -- and its impressive guest designers. Last season, Pitti highlighted two designers from the U.S.: Rodarte, who created a special couture collection, and Band of Outsiders.

This season, Napoleone said that the trade show is really "going back to the roots" in highlighting Valentino, a brand that the Pitti organizers apparently worked extremely hard to snare.

"We started following them like dogs -- very hungry -- a few seasons ago," he confessed. Finally, the label agreed, and in January, creative directors Maria Grazia Chiuri and Pierpaolo Piccioli will present Valentino's menswear collection on the runway -- the first time the men's collection has been seen outside of private showroom appointments.

The special guest at the women's fair -- Pitti W -- will be handbag designer Olympia Le-Tan, who will debut a collection inspired by Italian books.

There will be a few other notable debuts, as well: DKNY and Opening Ceremony footwear will be exhibiting at Pitti for the first time, Jimmy Choo will present its men's collection, and McQ (the McQueen diffusion line) will make its first trade show appearance.

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