NEWS » Italian Fashion coming to the V & A

Italian Fashion coming to the V & A

The Victoria and Albert Museum in London is going to celebrate Italian fashion from the 5th of April to the 27th of July 2014 with the first major exhibition dedicated to Italian glamour and style. The exhibition includes both women’s and menswear to highlight the exceptional quality of techniques, materials and expertise for which Italy has become famous.

As it was pointed out  by the magazine “L’Espresso”, it will be extremely interesting to see how  the complex history of Italian fashion, developed from the ruins of post-war to the actual worldwide recognition, will be interpreted from a foreign point of view. The exhibition shows Italy's dramatic transition from post-war ruins to the luxury paraded in the landmark “Sala Bianca” catwalk shows, held in Florence in the 1950s, which propelled Italian fashion into worldwide fame. “The glamour of Italian fashion”  tracks, in fact, the history of Italian fashion from the devastation of post-war to the success in the fifties and sixties, continuing with the global dominance of Italian designers in the eighties, and then beyond, until now, a period of identity crisis and major changes. The exhibition ends with a look at the future prospects of the Italian fashion industry.

On display are around 100 ensembles and accessories by leading Italian fashion houses, including dresses and creations of all the famous names of Italian fashion: Valentino, Giorgio Armani, Versace Dolce & Gabbana, Ferragamo Gucci, Pucci and Prada. There will be also men’s fashion, accessories and jewellery creations. Bulgari, who sponsors the show, has lent some jewellery of the sixties that belonged to Elizabeth Taylor, including a necklace of diamonds and emeralds that the diva wore when she married Richard Burton.

As a matter of fact, during the 1950s and '60s many Hollywood films, that were shot on location in Italy, had an enormous impact on fashion. Stars such as Audrey Hepburn and Elizabeth Taylor became style ambassadors for Italian fashion alimenting a keen international appetite for luxurious clothing made in Italy.

In addition to the most famous brands, however  the exhibition also rediscovers some forgotten names that have played a crucial role in the development and success of Italian fashion. The exhibition re-evaluates the role of Giovan Battista Giorgini, who in the fifties was the first to organize fashion shows at the Sala Bianca of Palazzo Pitti in Florence and made known abroad the Italian style. In addition are also pointed out the innovation of Walter Albini and the importance of perfectionism in fashion as demonstrated by the Fontana Sisters and Mila Schön, together with the original contribution of Krizia, Moschino and Romeo Gigli.

The Victoria and Albert Museum is the London’s temple of design. Unfortunately there is no equivalent in Italy, and the exhibition will not be shown in the “Bel paese”.

After closing at the end of July, “The glamour of Italian fashion” will travel to Nashville, Minneapolis and Portland. Apparently Italians haven’t understood that good fashion exhibitions are not only a great business but are very important to highlight Italian talent and national pride.

Giulia Lombardo

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