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ITALIAN fashion is the focus of the V&A‘s forthcoming major exhibition, opening on April 5 2014 and closing on July 27. The showcase – which has been three years in the making – will look at the influence of Italian fashion from the Second World War up until the current date, displaying 100 creations by the country’s leading names, from Prada and Valentino to Dolce & Gabbana and Gucci.
“Italian fashion is a story of rags to riches almost, as the post-war country recovers and becomes a key place for manufacture, design and entrepreneurial risk taking that cuts right across businesses,” said curator Sonnet Stanfill. “This is the compelling story which we describe in the exhibition.”
As well as established fashion bastions, the showcase will also highlight the work of lesser-known labels that also made an indelible impact on the industry – such as post-war couturiers Sorelle Fontana and Mila Schön – and the role that Italy played in Hollywood films during the Fifties and Sixties. A focus will also be placed on the high level of craftsmanship and use of luxurious materials that have helped define the country’s fashion signatures.
“Over the last five years I have been working to build the V&A’s collection of contemporary Italian fashion,” said Stanfill. “There has never been a comprehensive overview of Italian fashion like this and it felt like a pivotal moment for the exhibition.”
The display comes at a time of change for Italy’s fashion scene – Milan Fashion Week is currently undergoing a revival, as some of the country’s key names – from Prada’s Patrizio Bertelli to Tod’s chief Diego Della Valle – strive to restore the schedule’s momentum, which has slowed down in recent seasons due to fuller line-ups in London and Paris. The exhibition will conclude with a series of filmed interviews with key figures across the Italian fashion industry in order to discuss its future.
“Milan could continue its already successful efforts to open up its fashion calendar to younger less established voices,” said Stanfill. “Italy and the rest of Europe could also clarify labelling, so that we know what is ‘Made in Italy.’ I think the mix of very well-known and forgotten designers is something people will be excited to see.”
See a preview of the exhibition here.