Few things were so emblematically captured on film as the life and fashion of post-war Italy. The 50’s and 60’s saw the rise of Cinecitta, the studio where Fellini and Zeffirelli shot their époque-making movies, projecting a vision of glamour and la bella vita to the world at large. Audrey Hepburn’s ingénue in Roman Holiday along with Hollywood’s love affair with Italy, did more to raise the profile of Italy as an exotic destination – it turned it into the mecca of style. The renaissance in Italian cinema brought with it a revolution in Italian fashion and its industry. The restraints of wartime had whet people’s appetites for more – excess and excellence were now the mots du jour. The iconic quality of Italian glamour of this time emblazoned itself on people’s imaginations, making it synonymous with the culture and the country still today.
In characteristically discerning style, The V&A have taken it upon themselves to remind us of this era with their Spring exhibition, The Glamour Of Italian Fashion 1945 – 2014. The launch attracted the likes of Poppy Delevingne and Rita Ora, demonstrating how Italian Glamour has never been more relatable as kitsch, metallics, and costume jewellery begin to haunt us once more.
Beginning with the post-war era, the exhibition dips liberally into Italian fashion archives to document and explain the rise of Italy as a fashion giant. The exhibit highlights the exceptional quality of craftsmanship, materials and expertise for which Italy has become renowned, tracing the origin of its reputation for well-made fashion. The exhibition will include maps that connect all the components of the fashion line, from the manufacturers and suppliers to designers and tailors. What’s more, it looks at its rise as an alternative to Paris. As it began to attract people to its salons and fashion shows, Rome redefined what fashion on the continent was about, dethroning the grande dame. The stress is on the luxurious quality and craftsmanhip that informs the couture, ready-to-wear, and tailoring of Italian fashion.
But what perhaps is most attractive and meltingly drawing about the exhibit, is the promise of over 100 items from legendary design houses – Dolce & Gabbana, Giorgio Armani, Fendi, Gianfranco Ferré, Gucci, Missoni, Prada, and Pucci all make an appearance. Representatives across the industry are also represented, be it via interview, collaboration or contribution, making this the first exhibition on this scale to address and study Italian glamour. Of particular interest is its glance at the future of Italian fashion, and its approach to the ever-changing landscape.
Maria Grazia Chiuri and Pier Paolo Piccioli have been at Valentino since 2010, here they discuss the legacy they deal with every day:
The opening night
Roisin Agnew @Roxeenna