Italian post-war fashion gets museum outing in London

Wed Apr 2, 2014 10:03am EDT
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By Rollo Ross

LONDON (Reuters) - Rarely seen Bulgari jewellery once owned by actress Elizabeth Taylor and suits, dresses, gowns and accessories by top names in post-war Italian fashion will be on display at an exhibition opening this week at London's Victoria & Albert Museum.

"The Glamour of Italian Fashion 1945-2014", which opens on Friday, "examines Italy's rich and influential contribution to fashion from the end of the Second World War to the present", the V&A said in a press release.

The exhibition includes some 120 ensembles and accessories by fashion houses including Dolce & Gabbana, Giorgio Armani, Fendi, Ginafranco Ferre, Gucci, Missoni, Prada, Pucci and Versace, plus couture from Giambattista Valli, ready-to-wear from Fausto Publisi and work from Valentino's designers Maria Grazia Chiuri and Pier Paolo Piccioli.

"I think the craftsmanship is what is really so attractive about Italian-produced goods," American designer Tom Ford said at a celebrity pre-opening event on Tuesday night.

Actress Elizabeth Hurley, who shot to fame wearing a Versace dress at the premiere of the film "Four Weddings and a Funeral", said Italian designers add that little bit extra.

"I think they love the female body and I think they love women and they like women to look fabulous so I like it. I approve," Hurley said.

Post-war Italy had a strong textile industry but its fashion was mostly ignored by international buyers until businessman Giovanni Battista Giorgini set up Italy's first catwalk shows in the early 1950s and invited the press from all around the world, exhibition curator Sonnet Stanfill said.

"If Christian Dior is credited with restarting the French couture industry in 1947 with his new look, I think we also have to give equivalent credit to Giorgini for launching the Italian fashion industry," Stanfill said.   Continued...

Dresses worn in films are seen displayed during a media preview of the "The Glamour of Italian Fashion 1945-2014" exhibition, at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London April 2, 2014. REUTERS/Neil Hall