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The Italians can do Style and Fashion and this exhibition shows this off admirably, I am delighted to say.


Courtesy of The Art Archive, Mondadori Portfolio / Marisa Rastellini

A few weeks ago, Mrs 1PG put something in the diary for our regular Date Night and I did not look at it due to work and travel. The day arrived and though I knew it was at one of my favourite museums in the world, The Victoria & Albert in South Kensington, I knew nothing about what we were going to see; sometimes this is a good thing.

The exhibition is the ‘The Glamour of Italian Fashion 1945-2014” and it is a whistle stop tour of the rise of modern Italian Style from the post war years through to the power house of fashion and designers that we know today. Though, as you can imagine, it leans heavily towards Ladies fashion, there is a good and solid representation of Men’s clothing, and also a very interesting section of textiles and the regions from which they come.

With help from the American Marshall Plan and the passion of some Italian entrepreneurs, fashion was going to become a cornerstone of Italian recovery. It charts the rise of the first International Italian fashion shows in the opulent Sala Blanca in Florence, which was launched by Giovanni Battista Giorgini. Displayed are some items shown in those early shows and most would not feel out of place on the Red Carpet of today.

The rise of Italian Style was helped by the explosion of Cinema, both in Italy and in Hollywood, as films and film stars used Italy as a backdrop to their movies and lives. There are number of dresses and suits worn by the glitterati of the time.

There is a focus on Italian Tailoring, where the Gentlemen step in,  showing the classic cuts of Brioni to the looser and modern unstructured look that was made famous by Armani.

It traces the rise of the Fashion Designer as an Icon, which is especially true of the Italians – Valentino, Dolce & Gabbana, Giorgio Armani, Versace, Gucci, Zegna and Cavalli to name but a small few. How these designer names became global fashion powerhouse brands.

One of the most interesting parts of the exhibition is the section ‘Made in Italy’ about the different areas of production in Italy for all the different fabrics, textiles and manufacturers, such as the prestige silk makers of Lake Como, who make beautiful silk mostly for male fashion items such as ties and bespoke suit linings. Now I know why George Clooney lives up there, but perhaps he should wear a few more ties!

All in all, it is an interesting and educational event and well worth visiting. Mrs 1PG and I certainly got lost in there for a good couple of hours and I am sure you will too!

The Glamour of Italian Fashion runs till the 27th July at The Victoria & Albert Museum in London – More Details here

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