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Pitti Archive: “The Fourth Sex. Adolescent Extremes”

Starting today, Pitti Uomo 90 will present during the week various events, among those “Florence Calling: Raf Simons”.

The event, to be staged in Stazione Leopolda in the evening of Thursday 16th June, celebrates the return to Florence of Belgian fashion designer Raf Simons.

The designer, creative director of Christian Dior from 2012 to 2015 and of Jil Sander from 2005 to 2011, was invited following a series of successful collaborations with Pitti Uomo and Fondazione Pitti Discovery; these include the exhibition “The Fourth Sex – Adolescent Extremes” in 2003, the retrospective “Raf Simons 1995-2005”, the presentation of the book “Raf Simons Redux” with a fashion show and video installation in 2005, and the Jil Sander s/s 2011 runway show.

The exhibition “The Fourth Sex. Adolescent Extremes”, staged in Stazione Leopola during Pitti Uomo 63. Photo by Carlo Fei. Collection Pitti Immagine, all rights reserved.

In particular, the 2003 exhibition gives a meaningful insight in Simons’ world. Co-curated by Francesco Bonami, then artistic director of Fondazione Pitti Discovery, and Simons himself, the exhibit reflected upon a central figure in the work of Simons, the teenager; seen as a cultural phenomenon, that of adolescence was explored as a territory defined by very specific tastes, tendencies and interests, although being chaotic in its state of continuous formation.

The exhibition “The Fourth Sex. Adolescent Extremes”, staged in Stazione Leopola during Pitti Uomo 63. Photo by Carlo Fei. Collection Pitti Immagine, all rights reserved.

These ‘adolescent extremes’ have been explored, in the exhibition and in its catalogue, by the work of a multitude of artists, directors, fashion designers and musicians who, since the 60s, have been investigating, getting inspired or inspiring teenagers. They include, among others, photographers Andreas Gursky, Larry Clark, Wolfgang Tillmans, artists Vanessa Beecroft, Gilbert&George, Takashi Murakami and fashion designers André Courrèges, Pierre Cardin, Bernhard Willhelm, Comme des Garçons, Helmut Lang and Fiorucci.

The exhibition “The Fourth Sex. Adolescent Extremes”, staged in Stazione Leopola during Pitti Uomo 63. Photo by Carlo Fei. Collection Pitti Immagine, all rights reserved.

Installed at Stazione Leopolda by the architect group ‘Cliostraats’, the exhibition drew inspiration from these diverse languages and media to outline teenagers’ grammatics and codes. The value of the exhibition stands in the representation of adolescence as an aesthetic category, serving not only as an inspiration but also as a strong influence in fashion, art, music and cinema.

Pictures of “The Fourth Sex. Adolescent Extremes”, as well as those of the fashion show staged at Giardino dei Boboli in 2005 are provided by Fondazione Pitti Immagine and can be found in the Europeana Fashion collection. Browse them while waiting for the upcoming event on Thursday 16th!

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