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Made in Italy gets museum treatment in Milan

February 23, 2018

The exhibit begins as the Women's Liberation movement picked up in Italy. Image courtesy of Conde Nast Italia Archive


Bottega Veneta and Missoni are among the luxury labels featured in a new exhibit at Palazzo Reale that aims to place fashion history within a broader cultural context.

“Italiana: Italy Through the Lens of Fashion 1971-2001,” presented in partnership with Yoox Net-A-Porter Group, follows Italy’s fashion industry as it morphed into a more global business. While marking key periods in Italian fashion, the exhibit also functions as a celebration of the 60th anniversary of Camera Nazionale della Moda Italiana, the Italian National Chamber of Commerce.

"YNAP is part of the fabric of the Italian fashion ecosystem," said Bruno-Roland Bernard, corporate and financial communications director at Yoox Net-A-Porter Group.

"Like the creatives and designers that came before it, Yoox broke new ground, positioning Italian fashion in the digital age," he said. "When the curators approached YNAP to be the main partner, we did not hesitate for a minute as we knew they would take the audience on a thoughtful and vibrant journey across those 30 seminal years."

Style progress

Italiana is being staged at Milan's Palazzo Reale, and features brands including Etro, Dolce & Gabbana, Fendi and Ferragamo.

The exhibit is centered on the three decades that curators Maria Luisa Frisa and Stefano Tonchi feel were instrumental in turning Italian fashion into an international industry. 1971 marked a turning point towards ready-to-wear from high-fashion, with label Walter Albini staging its first runway show that year. This was also the start of the Women’s Liberation movement in Italy.

Meanwhile, 2001 marks the start of a new millennium and a move toward a more globalized world.

Italiana exhibit room focused on democracy. Image courtesy of Palazzo Reale

While centered on specific decades and historical moments, the exhibit is organized by theme rather than date.

Among the nine rooms are spaces that examine ideas such as democracy, logomania, post-production and identity.

Along with fashion, the exhibit showcases work from other fields such as art, design, photography and publishing to provide further context. For instance, on display is art from talents such as Maurizio Cattelan and Vanessa Beecroft that brings to light the quality behind Italian fashion.

Italiana exhibit room focused on logos. Image courtesy of Palazzo Reale

This artistic exploration of fashion history is also present in the exhibit’s companion c. Published by Marsilio, the volume includes newly published text, fashion literature and images from magazines during the three final decades of the 20th century.

Opened Feb. 22, Italiana will run through May 6. In addition to main partner Yoox Net-A-Porter Group, Pomellato and La Rosa Mannequins collaborated on the exhibit.

Made in Italy
The president of Italian menswear brand Caruso argued at the Luxury Summit 2014 that centuries of fine living lend the "Made in Italy" phrase a distinct flavor.

During the “Does Made in Italy Still Matter” keynote, the executive discussed the importance of production location in terms of quality, design and essence (see story).

As the historical home of the majority of luxury houses, Europe’s market accounts for nearly $83 billion of the personal luxury goods sector, according to a report by R&S Mediobanca.

The annual “Italian Fashion Sector” survey looks at Italy’s key industry, with a focus on the top 15 fashion houses that call the country home. Italy’s successes in the luxury category have assisted the Italian economy during its stagnant economic situation and have propelled all of Europe to a hub for tourism-based purchasing, making the continent the number one market in the world (see story).

"YNAP is proud to support the project," Mr. Bernard said. "It is a fabulous opportunity to bring our teams and business partners together to celebrate the Italianness of YNAP.

"As we invest in Italy, building capacity and better services, we are happy to share our love for Italian creativity with a wider audience."