The Glamour of Italian Fashion 1945-2014, V&A
The V&A’s spring exhibition, The Glamour of Italian Fashion 1945-2014, will examine Italy’s rich contribution to fashion from the end of WWII to the present. As the first major show of its kind, the exhibit will study unique factors of Italian design – from luxurious materials and regional manufacturing to a reputation in tailored men’s wear and glamorous women’s wear. Curated by Sonnet Stanfill, the showcase is a true ode to the techniques, textiles and leading figures that have come to define Italy’s fashion signatures.
On display will be around 100 ensembles from the archives of leading Italian fashion houses like Gucci, Valentino and Missoni, on to the next generation of designers. The exhibit also highlights the influential but less remembered figures who have helped shape the foundation of Italian fashion as we know it. The Glamour of Italian Fashion will also examine the impact of the many Hollywood films shot on location in Italy during the 50s and 60s, where stars like Audrey Hepburn and Elizabeth Taylor became ambassadors for Italian fashion, fuelling a global appetite for made-in-Italy attire.
Director of the V&A, Martin Roth, said: “I am thrilled to be celebrating Italy’s immense contribution to the international fashion world in this first major exhibition on the subject. The V&A has a long tradition of working with Italian designers and this comprehensive exhibition will chronicle the development of the legendary Italian style, not only focusing on the familiar, but, importantly casting light on the less well known designers and stories as well as considering the significant contribution made to the economy by its fashion and textile industries.”
While the future of Italian fashion is uncertain, there is a definite renaissance underway. Globalisation and the switch to digital retailing has shifted the landscape of the family business. Many of the luxury houses are now foreign-owned and the sales increases are coming from emerging markets. In order to adapt to this, it seems Milan Fashion Week is undergoing a bit of a revival. The Italians, who often stress the importance of hierarchy – whether it be in the mafia or la familia – are shedding light on the younger talent for the first time in decades.
Thirty-seven-year-old Fausto Puglisi dominated Milan’s S/S 2014 shows with his highly acclaimed collection of leather and palm trees. The designer’s glitzy, rock ’n’ roll attitude is paired with a sensibility that reminds us of vintage Versace; so quintessentially Italian. Despite being in the early stages of forecasted success, M.I.A., Nicki Minaj, Beyoncé and Madonna have already been seen sporting his looks. But wait, there’s more!
In an effort to support the “youth”, Giorgio Armani lent his show space to 34-year-old Haitian-Italian designer Stella Novarino to showcase her label, Stella Jean. The designer states: “The support of Giorgio Armani is a strong signal of confidence in emerging creativity.”
Designers like Fausto and Stella are giving contemporary Italian fashion the kick it needs, igniting a returned interest in della moda d’Italia. The organisers of Milan Fashion Week have recently drafted the chief executive of Prada as one of three new “senators of fashion” in the hope of injecting some of Prada’s cool-factor into Milan’s schedule.
Additionally, with the 80’s trend forecasted to make a huge comeback this spring, we’re seeing a returned focus to the Italian designers who dominated the decade. Versace is only adding to the fire, having made the dreamiest marketing decision of the century and naming Lady-Gaga the face for their spring 2014 campaign.
The exhibit comes at a very exciting time for the Italian fashion industry and gives us the opportunity to reflect on, appreciate and question the future of the glamour of Italian fashion.
Photos: Courtesy of V&A
The V&A’s fashion collection is designated as the UK’s National Collection and is one of the largest and most comprehensive collections of dress in the world. For advance bookings visit here or call 020 7420 9736.