Italian Style: Fashion Since 1945 Exhibit
This is the first retrospective exhibit on Italian fashion, a collection curated and debuted in London at the Victoria and Albert museum. It is now traveling in the U.S. and I was able to see it at its first stop, the Minneapolis Institute of Art.
I adored the show, start to finish. Here are my highlights, along with notes I took throughout the show. Shoutout to the kind docent who saw me scribbling notes on my Italian Style exhibit brochure and offered me sheets of paper from his own notebook to write on.
History of Italian Style Since 1945
The fashion industry helped Italy recover from post-WWII poverty. Italy was the largest recipient of the Marshall plan, with American aid of 1.4 billion dollars going into the country. This aid money enabled a much needed upgrade for Italy’s manufacturing industry. With cities known for expertly creating silk, wool, leather and knitwear, the country had everything it needed to become the world’s next style powerhouse. Italy’s fashion industry took off, providing a less expensive alternative to Paris and building a reputable name for itself amongst Europeans and Americans hungry for high end fashion.
By the 1970s, Milan emerged as Italy’s fashion capital. In this decade, manufactured fashion gained popularity and the government launched the iconic “Made in Italy” promotional campaign that is still known today.
Italian Style Exhibit Review
The flow was easy to navigate and rarely created congestion. The placards were well-written, easy to read and informative. I loved the incorporation of film clips to illustrate the theme of the exhibit. At one point, a woman watching a clip next to me remarked about the height of the 1950s runway models’ pump shoes, which were extremely conservative compared to high fashion today. She had actually mistaken me for someone she knew, which is why she broke the Minnesotan code of not making small talk or eye contact with strangers in public settings, but I told her I didn’t mind and was happy she’d pointed that fun fact out. Also overheard while watching footage of Giorgini’s early 1950s runway shows: “Oh, look at her cape. I like a good cape!”
The show’s flawless incorporation of film includes the influence of Hollywood films from the 50s and 60s shot in Italy. During this time period, movie stars such as Audrey Hepburn helped ignite the worlds’ frenzy for Italian-made style.
Make a reservation before you go–it’s bound to be quite popular as its January 4 closing nears. I made it through the actual exhibit in an hour, which seemed like the perfect amount of time to take it all in. I was happy I had more time before closing to peruse the Italian Style exhibit gift shop and try the interactive activities they had outside the show. Make sure to share your creation on Instagram (I did!) with hashtag #ItalianStyleMIA.
Italian Style Exhibit U.S. Tour Dates
Italian Style runs until January 4, 2015 at the Minneapolis Institute of Arts. Next up: Portland and Nashville. If you’re in these cities, I highly recommend you check out this show!
February 7-May 3, 2015, Portland, Oregon at the Portland Art Museum.
June 5–September 7, 2015, Nashville, Tennessee at the Frist Center.
Special thanks for the Minneapolis Institute of Arts for allowing use of the above photographs.