PORTLAND MUSEUM’S ITALIAN STYLE
By Naomi Barling
The Portland Art Museum has brought Italian fashion from the V&A in London to America. Showcasing glamorous pieces from the end of the Second World War to the present day in a show called Italian Style.
The designs on display are a culmination of womenswear, menswear and accessories. Designs from Pucci, Valentino, Gucci, Missoni, Armani, Dolce & Gabbana, Fendi, Prada, Versace and more are included.
During the 1950s and ‘60s several high-profile Hollywood films were shot on location in Italy, films like Roman holiday. This had an enormous impact on fashion, and was the start of our international love affair with Italy. Stars like Audrey Hepburn and Elizabeth Taylor are recognized as huge influences in shining a spotlight on Italy’s reputation for quality and style . In 1951, Giovanni Battista Giorgini launched Italy’s first internationally recognized fashion shows. The following year, he secured the Sala Bianca or ‘White Hall’ for the showing of that season’s collections. It was an opulent, chandelier-lit gallery in Florence’s Pitti Palace and this was the start of Italy’s involvement in the global fashion industry. It gave them the chance to showcase their work to overseas buyers.
The exhibitions also explores the early 1970s and the popularity of couture, and how in the years that followed the war, despite social and political instability, Italy’s fashion industry boomed. Numerous fashion and manufacturing businesses started up, many of them family-run, which is still the case today. Since the mid-1990s, fashion has become a global trade with Italian designers becoming celebrities, solidifying Italy’s reputation. The show also aims to highlight the outstanding techniques, materials, and expertise used in the design process.
For the show’s duration in Portland, the museum will organize a variety of events exploring Italian culture and fashion. It is also taking the opportunity to promote emerging fashion designers in Portland.