It took nine exits at Andrea Pompilio's Fall menswear show before a man arrived on the scene. That makes news, especially at the shrine to men's fashion that is Pitti Uomo, where Pompilio has been showing for seasons, ever since winning Pitti and Vogue Italia's Who's on Next award. Backstage, Pompilio said he was just giving the people what they want. "They ask so many times for very petite sizes for women, so why not do it?" he asked. "Taking something for men and making it more female for woman." In return, it seemed, the women gave something more female to the men. Pompilio has never shied away from full-plumage colors, but the baby pink topcoats and flat-front pants he showed for men suggested a trade agreement between the sexes. So did the men's shoes, slip-on mocs tufted with puffs of fur. The girls, by contrast, had lug-soled lace-ups. "It's mix and match," Pompilio shrugged, "like life."
It had its ups and downs, like life. The bracing peacockiness of the menswear was as brash as ever: "It's classic pieces," Pompilio demurred, and so it is, but he styles it (himself, mind) for maximum kook effect. The windowpane jacket, the pattern adapted from an old checked-paper sketchbook found at his mother's house, came with a polka-dot foulard and cotton-candy-colored trousers; that the model was also carrying a pair of leather gloves, like he would have been in a men's magazine spread of the eighties, only heightened the now-and-then effect. Also effective were the all-in-one looks that reimagined the suit as a matched peacoat and pants, or bomber and pants. Less successful was that first foray into women's. It seemed to owe a debt less to Pompilio's menswear but to the recent reigning champs of women's fashion: There was a wide swath of Céline here, bits and bobs of Balenciaga and Prada there. If his womenswear finds its footing and reaches the level of the menswear, it could be very good, indeed. And flats, like those he showed, are good for that.