When I think about Italian fashion, I think about how many gorgeous luxury labels there are, and the exquisite quality that they bring to the red carpet in-particular. You have the romantic and elegant vibe of Valentino, bold and edgy fashion covered by Versace and Dolce & Gabbana, you have fabulous tailoring and minimalism from Armani, uber-sexy glamour from Roberto Cavalli and pure femme fatale from Gucci – and that’s without mentioned the beauty of Prada, the fun of Moschino, the divine prints of Pucci and the knitted beauties by Missoni.
The V&A’s latest fashion exhibition explores all their influential contributions to fashion, as well as the rich passion of the Italian fashion industry from the end of the Second World War to the present day in its beautifully curated ‘The Glamour of Italian Fashion’ exhibition, which runs from April 5 until July 27, 2014.
One of the most striking rooms within the exhibition has to be the array of modern-day pieces, these are the most recognisable – from the hand-painted Dolce & Gabbana ballgown to a floor-length romantic Valentino gown and accessories including the Fendi baguette bag, Gucci’s ‘New Jackie’ bag and Tod’s vibrant driving moccasins.
Just seeing the red carpet beauties up close, especially the gorgeous Armani Prive gown from the spring/summer 2010 collection, encrusted with Swarovski crystals was amazing to see – the craftsmanship is just incredible.
But the most revealing section had to be the opening ‘Return to Luxury’ area of the exhibit, telling the story of the early ‘Sala Bianca’ catwalk shows in Florence held in the 1950’s and featuring couture designers including Simonetta, just look at her spectacular 1950’s evening gown above, and Capucci, who became known for his sculptural style with this intricate multi-layered scalloped ruffled cocktail dress presented with a silver velvet stole from 1957.
Other highlights had to be this red tulle couture dress by Valentino from 1977, the dramatic colour and the ruffles is so synonymous with his romantic and ethereal work. As was seeing the Bulgari emerald and diamond jewellery that was worn by Elizabeth Taylor in 1967 to a masked ball in Venice, the iconic jewels just show off what Italian glamour is.
This exhibition is so much more than fashion, it is a history on how Italian fashion became such a fixture in the industry, the earlier couture designers, as well as the rise of the country’s luxury fashion houses. If you love fashion, Italian style and gorgeous dresses – you will love this exhibition.
The Glamour of Italian Fashion 1945-2014, sponsored by Bulgari, runs from April 5 – July 27, 2014 at the V&A.