In celebration of their 70th anniversary, Italian sportswear supremos Diadora held a special exhibition entitled ‘It Plays Something Else’ at Florence’s bi-annual menswear tradeshow Pitti Uomo last week. Here the works of five specially commissioned contemporary artists contemplated themes of speed and movement – concepts, which sit at the very core of every sport Diadora designs footwear, and apparel for.
While not technically a fashion week, Pitti has become an essential part of editor's calendars. Aside from the breath-taking architecture and renowned sunsets of it’s setting, a major lure is the hot bed of important new brands that show there each season. Recent Uomo examples include Virgil Abloh’s Off-White, Craig Green, and this January Y/Project. Nestling their anniversary celebrations amongst this level of innovation, exemplifies Diadora’s ability to balance their heritage, against a resolute desire to continuously strive forwards.
The three-day exhibition, takes its name from tennis player Ilie Nastase’s famous response to his 1976 Wimbledon defeat against Diadora brand ambassador, Bjorn Borg; “we play tennis, he plays something else.” The first Italian brand to utilise champion athletes such as Borg and to transform them into true style icons, the exhibition is not only a celebration of the brand, but of those who stood victorious at centre court, making the Diadora name synonymous with excellence.
Each artist used the words ‘something else’ to pivot personal takes on the commissioned themes. In her photo series Untitled; British photographer Maisie Cousins contemplates the female body at rest after a great exertion of energy. She offers a new perspective on the invincibility we have come to expect from athletes, and the relationship their physical form has with the sporting world. Each piece in the series spins our preconceptions of this; unwashed, eyes closed, her portraits celebrate the beauty of these athletes where nobody is looking.
Patrick Tuttofuoco’s Manovia takes inspiration from the manual conveyor system of the Diadora factories. The extreme care and labour he witnessed there inspired Tuttofuoco to invert the concept of speed with stillness. The marble sculpture of his own hand reflects the human aspect of the 150 pairs of shoes made daily by hand at the artisanal factory.
Invernomuto also displayed their work Perspectives on Archive at the exhibition. The duo, made up of Simone Bertuzzi and Simone Trabucci have been focusing on moving image and sound since 2003. For Diadora, they explored what remains of subcultures through digital media, having perused the brand’s archives for months, the pair pulled together a montage of significant moments in sports between the 1970s and 1990s, played at varying speeds. In homage to the brand, each of their three screens was displayed in a format so as to counter the typical rectangular modules of a tennis court. A futuristic set up that left viewers imagining Diadora’s evolution long into the future.
For more information visit diadora.com
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