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Italian Fashion

The story of Italian fashion began on 25th February 1951 when Count Giorgini staged a fashion show for an international audience in Florence.
André Suarès wrote that “fashion is the best form of farce, though nobody laughs because everyone takes part”. Dress has always been regarded as a means of self-assertion in society, an instrunment of personal confirmation and an important means of communication for individuals and peoples. It is also the language of desire: a game of flirting glances and emulation that talks about the evolution of costume, of modesty and of imagination over the centuries; erotic motivation is therefore a dominating impulse that determines one’s choice in clothing.

Giorgini rekindled the myth of the noble classes by opening up his palace for fashion shows, providing a fantastic, courtly setting steeped in history for the presentation of fashion collections. Members of the nobility themselves were often the ones who wore the dresses, for obvious reasons: only these princesses and noblewomen, ladies or misses, could, by their eductaion, customs and culture, wear these fine clothes properly, and would end up presenting them in the courtly rooms of their own abodes or in museums alongside sculptures of fame, the epitome themselves of beauty. Cinema too was influenced by Italian fashion: a classic case was the wedding of Linda Christian and Tyrone Power in 1949 for which the bridal dress was chosen in Rome. All of this went towards creating a stereotyped yet realistic image of the Land of the Beautiful, of Art and of Love. Dress took on the role of a charm for just like in ancient fairy tales, it was the magic means that made transformation possible.

In the Sixties everything changed: social roles and status changed in these years of protest and industrial boom. It was now clearly understood that through dress every woman could share the magic and interpret the myths of her own time, meaning that dress had now to be seen as creation and design. New styles in manufactured garments came onto the market and women across the world began to dress stylishly at a low cost. International acclaim for Made in Italy fashion reached its height with the triumph of “Prêt-à-porter” in the Seventies and Eighties when Milan became a fashion landmark, continuing through into the current trends of recent years inspired by avant-garde art and cultural movements of the XXth cent.: from Haute Couture to “Prêt-à-porter”, from the mini-skirt to blue jeans, fashion advances in a tireless process of regeneration and alternating of styles.

To sum up, the story of Italian fashion unwinds like a fairy tale for its purpose is fundamentally different from that of fashion in Paris, London or New York. For Italians, fashion is an instrument of social redemption whereby class is determined according to what one wears; elsewhere all of this is inconceivable: beyond the confines of Italy, fashion is only a tool for confirming social status.


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