From Dolce & Gabbana and Missoni to Prada and Versace, Italian fashion houses have held—and maintained—a strong presence in the global fashion sphere. A new exhibition at the Victoria & Albert Museum in London, The Glamour of Italian Fashion 1945-2014, celebrates the country’s longtime style influence and tradition since the end of World War II. Closely examining integral facets of Italy’s fashion industry, including luxurious, high-end materials and intricate craftsmanship, the exhibit takes a personal, intimate look into the country’s top design houses. In the 1950s, couture gowns were presented at either the home of Giovanni Battista Giorgini or the Sala Bianca in Florence’s Palazzo Pitti, where international buyers and press would be exposed to these designs for the first time. It was the couture gowns, alongside sharply tailored pieces, enviable ready-to-wear (shown by the likes of Gianni Versace and Giorgio Armani), and chic knitwear (pioneered by the Missoni family) that allowed Italian designers to compete with their French, British, and American counterparts. Aside from its influence in the fashion industry, the retrospective also examines the relationship between Italian fashion designers and Hollywood; iconic films including Anthony and Cleopatra and Roman Holiday were shot on location in Italy, and actresses such as Elizabeth Taylor, whose diamond and emerald Bulgari necklace worn on her wedding day to Richard Burton is on display, Ava Gardner, and Audrey Hepburn, a loyal fan of Salvatore Ferragamo, became ambassadors for the country’s luxurious wear. Between ornate gowns and sharply tailored suits, The Glamour of Italian Fashion proves that Italy has been, is, and always will be, an international style force to be reckoned with. Below, see highlights from the exhibit.
The Glamour of Italian Fashion 1945-2014 is on display at the V&A Museum in London through July 27, 2014.
Left: Elizabeth Taylor Wearing Bulgari Jewelry, Venice, 1967