Review: The Glamour of Italian Fashion, V&A Museum


The exhibition is open until July 27.


By Li Hoang

A new exhibition celebrating Italian fashion opened this weekend at The V&A, examining the country’s rich and influential contribution to the fashion industry.

Sponsored by Italian fine jewellers Bulgari, The Glamour of Italian Fashion is the first major exhibition to examine the defining factors that make Italian quality so well respected.

The term Made in Italy has become an international accreditation for bespoke handmade expertise towards the finest materials and craftsmanship.

Set between 1945-2014, the exhibition walks viewers through a timeline of 120 ensembles and accessories, including the outfits that propelled Italian fashion onto the world stage via the shoulders of Audrey Hepburn and Elizabeth Taylor.

Director of the V&A, Martin Roth, said: “We have a long tradition of working with Italian designers and this comprehensive exhibition chronicles the development of the legendary Italian style. It not only focuses on the familiar, but importantly casts light on the less well-known designers and stories as well as considering the significant contribution made to the economy by its fashion and textiles industry.”

The exhibition begins by displaying archives from post-war couturiers Sorelle Fontana and Mila Schön through to household brands Dolce & Gabbana, Giambattsita Valli, Giorgio Armani, Gucci and Versace.

Each stage exhibits a series of techniques and creative influence that modern designers benchmark to this day. Traditional techniques of spinning, dyeing, weaving and stitching, have been practised in Italian regions for centuries.

Key highlights of the show include a group of couture gowns at the Sala Bianco fashion show in Florence (see below), seen by some as the birth of Italian fashion, Missoni’s knitted 1970s knitted collection and tailoring by Rubinacci, as well as a suit worn by John F. Kennedy.

A rare display of Elizabeth Taylor’s 1960s Necklace of Columbian Emeralds are also on display, gifted to her by her husband Richard Burton when they were filming Cleopatra, where their love affair began.

The exhibition’s final presentation captures a short interview between fashion figures Franco Sozzani, editor of Italian Vogue and designer  Angela Missoni discussing the challenges that will impact the future of Italian fashion.

Gucci artisan Francis Cianferioni said Italian fashion, ‘is made by people, not technology’, a statement which demonstrates why ‘Made in Italy’ continues to be so well respected and sought-after.

The exhibition is open until July 27, with tickets from £13.40.

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