The late great fashion writer, Anna Piaggi, once wrote, “Italian fashion designers are a secret society make up of pioneers, a few investors and a few poets. They are the new phenomenon and the new elite.” Impressive, eh? And never does that statement feel more poignant than at the V&A’s mega new exhibition, The Glamour of Italian Fashion.
Let’s be fair, the curators couldn’t have picked a subject with more natural ability to shine and dazzle if they tried. Yes, we’re Brit fashion girls at heart at Topshop but when it comes to fashion history and craftsmanship the Italians steal the scene. Whether it’s Miuccia Prada’s latest flame-toting heels, Gucci’s peak-a-boo evening line (yes, that JLO one) or a dramatic Dolce and Gabbana hand-painted couture gown, the names, silhouettes and styles from Italy’s fashion designers have always been in the headlines.
The show is a rich timeline of the Italian fashion industry that spans the country’s post World War 2 fashion boom, Hollywood’s affair with Italian designers to an uncertain present day. For us, the most enthralling moments were seeing the glamour up-close. We swooned over encrusted dresses and held our breath over bejewelled capes: it is worth the trip just to go saucer-eyed over Mila Schön’s sequin-covered kaftan that was worn by Marella Agnelli at Capote’s legendary Black and White Ball.
So if you fancy musing over Moschino’s cheeky map dress or discovering the palazzo pant (Jackie Kennedy was a big fan!) there’s no better place to spend a Sunday afternoon.
The Glamour of Italian Fashion 1945 – 2014 runs from 5th April – 27th July.