The exhibition, which will display photographs, films and around 100 ensembles and accessories by leading Italian fashion houses including Dolce & Gabbana, Gucci, Missoni, Prada, Pucci Valentino and Versace – as well as those from their lesser known forerunners such as the Fontana sisters and Mila Schön – explores Italy’s contribution to fashion through pivotal individuals and organisations.
It charts the origins of Italian style from Florence’s famous Sala Bianca catwalk shows, which began in the home of organiser, Giovanni Battista Giorgini, and which, in the early 1950s propelled Italian fashion onto the world stage.
Celebrities such as Elizabeth Taylor filming on location proved instrumental in promoting Italian fashion internationally says exhibition curator, Sonnet Stanfill: “This was a key way of communicating to the outside world the glamour of Italian fashion because all of the stars when they came to film on location they went shopping.” They were subsequently photographed wearing said garments and the rest is fashion history.
Also pivotal was the role of the designer Walter Albini, an intermediary between the public, fashion press and buyers. According to Stanfill, Albini: ” (Walter Albini) became this kind of polymath who was very adept at creating high style machine made clothing.” Known as Lo Stylista, he was, perhaps, the first celebrity designer in the manner of Miuccia Prada and Giorgio Armani today.
Set against the contemporary context of a shifting fashion landscape with increased competition from emerging markets, the exhibition provides a fascinating insight into the Italian fashion history but also looks to the future through the work of next generation designers such as Maria Grazia Chiuri and Pier Paolo Piccioli of Valentino and Anna Dello Russo favourite Fausto Puglisi.
For more information, go to Victoria & Albert