This week I was lucky enough to bag a press pass to The Glamour of Italian Fashion exhibition at the V&A. As well as lusting over beautiful dresses (and drooling over D&G), I picked up a couple of useful nuggets of info regarding the Italian fashion industry. Exploring the industry from 1945 through to the present day, the exhibition showcases the talent, craftsmanship and style of the Italian greats. It champions a look that is unique to Italy and allows us to get up close and personal with stunning pieces.
The exhibition is laid out chronologically, beginning with the strict fascist dress codes of the war period to Italy's divergence from this in the post war years. Having maintained specific standards of dress issued by government bodies throughout the war, the Italians threw themselves into creating luxury garments as soon as the war came to an end. Enter Germana Marucelli and a dreamy red dress with flaring waist panels (my favourite piece in the exhibition).
The exhibition also references the popularity of cinema-going and increased globalisation as two components of Italy's emergence as a key player in fashion. Films like Roman Holiday (starring Audrey Hepburn) and Cleopatra (Elizabeth Taylor) catapulted Italian fashion and indeed, Italian sensibilities into everyone’s consciousness.
It's then on to the bright prints of the 60s and men’s tailoring in the 70s, right the way up to the leather and leopard print trends of the 90s (hello Versace) and ready-to-wear pieces from Miu Miu, Dolce & Gabbana and Prada.
What's been given a real focus is how the ‘Made in Italy’ label came to receive such prestige in the 60s and 70s as ready to wear really came into its own. This is given some attention in the closing section of the exhibition, a short film in which some of Italy’s most influential names in fashion give their opinions on the future of the Italian fashion industry.
The film highlights the country’s current financial difficulty, and the problems that many designers face with the Italian Government. Taxation is at an all time high and the government does not support the industry as well as it could. With many Italian brands now including China within their production chains, the final note of the exhibition questions what the ‘Made in Italy’ label will mean moving forward.
The exhibition opens on 5 April and will run until 27 July. It's definitely worth the £12 price of a ticket and a Saturday / Sunday stroll to South Kensington.