What do a leopard-print gown by Roberto Cavalli, a 1980s Gianni Versace suit and a beaded silver gown by Mila Schön — famously worn by Lee Radziwill to Truman Capote’s 1966 Black and White Ball — have in common?
They are all iconic pieces of Italian design and on display at the newly opened exhibit “The Glamour of Italian Fashion, 1945 – 2014,” at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London.
The exhibit, which runs though July 27, is an artistic survey of Italian fashion from the end of World World II to the present day and demonstrates what has made the Italian fashion industry so unique: luxurious materials; finely-constructed textiles; light, sleek tailoring; and specialized regional manufacturing.
The Bulgari-sponsored exhibit also spotlights the individual contributors and organizations that have built up Italy’s reputation over the past past half century, and features roughly 100 ensembles and accessories from Valentino, Giorgio Armani, Dolce & Gabbana, Prada and other leading Italian fashion houses.
Curator Sonnet Stanfill said that she and her team “went deep and started with the postwar explosion of Italians in the international buying offices and press in the 1950s, then moved on to the Hollywood influence of Audrey Hepburn and Elizabeth Taylor, who became ambassadors for these brands and made these designers stars.” From there, the exhibit expands into the 1970s, when designers like Armani and Versace “became household names,” before finishing in the present day.
For those travelers who are cruising through the region, tickets for the exhibit are currently available at the V&A’s website. For the fashion conscious who won’t be traveling to London, Net-A-Porter has teamed with the V&A Museum for an exclusive jewelry collection to celebrate the exhibit (all pieces are available for purchase). Museum-worthy items for sale include an exclusive V&A gold-plated, onyx and glass rosary necklace from Dolce & Gabbana, a V&A Swarovski crystal and resin necklace from Marni and a V&A double-strand palladium-plated woven necklace from Missoni. 10 percent of all sales will be donated to the V&A Museum.
(Image: The Italian stylist Valentino posing among his models nearby Trevi Fountain. Rome, July 1967. Photo Credit: The Art Archive / Mondadori Portfolio / Marisa Rastellini)