V&A announces The Glamour of Italian Fashion 1945-2014 show next Spring

| 06 November 2013

The V&A’s spring exhibition will be a glamorous one from Italy. Flanked by 100 ensembles from the likes of Dolce & Gabbana, Giorgio Armani, Prada and Versace, Italian fashion houses will demonstrate the country’s flair for finesse since the end of the Second World War...

Elizabeth Taylor wearing Bulgari jewellery, Venice (1967)

A black and white photo of a glamorous actress clad in elaborate headwear and clothes
© Elizabeth Taylor wears Bulgari jewellery at the masked ball, Hotel Ca'Rezzonico, Venice (1967)
The exuberance of Italian style of this period was exemplified by this spectacular Bulgari jewellery once owned by Elizabeth Taylor.

Given to the actress as an engagement gift by Richard Burton and worn on their wedding day, the necklace set in platinum with diamonds and emeralds was a favourite of the actress, who also wore it to the masked ball in Hotel Ca’ Rezzonico, Venice in 1967. These jewels are rarely seen on public display.


Dolce & Gabbana, Ankle boots, black leather stiletto heels with gold, white and pink embroidery (2000)

A photo of an elaborately designed pair of black boots with big heels and gold designs
© Victoria and Albert Museum, London
The exhibition shows a number of examples of Italian accessories, including handbags, shoes and gloves.

During recent years, Italy’s fine leatherwork has become one way for the fashion consumer to buy into a designer’s look through a single, considered purchase.

This pair of Dolce & Gabbana black leather stiletto ankle boots are typically ostentatious in their style and feature gold, white and pink embroidery with crystals and sequins. They draw on the many artisanal skills for which Italy is renowned such as leathermaking techniques.

Gianni Versace, Suit (1986)

A close up photo of a piece of knitwear and trousers and a suit in fashionable style
© Victoria and Albert Museum, London
The exhibition will consider how the entrepreneurial flair of Italian ready-towear fashion designers such as Gianni Versace as well as Armani, Krizia, Moschino and many others led to the term "Made in Italy" becoming the sign of good taste.

The loose, unstructured drape and bold juxtaposition of pattern and weave of this black and white cotton jacket and trouser suit from Versace’s S/S 1985 collection was an unlikely alliance of material and concept.

Versace’s fashion empire is another example of the family-run business, so unique to Italian fashion.

Roberto Capucci, Evening dress of silk (1987-1988)

A photo of a silky, flowing green and bright purple dress circling around a mannequin
© Courtesy Roberto Capucci Foundation. Photo: Victoria and Albert Museum, London
Known for his sculptural silhouettes and masterful use of form, colour and material, Roberto Capucci’s career has spanned many decades.

From opening his first couture salon in 1950, he was soon lauded by the international press as Italy’s best designer. Early in his career he designed for the family of Giovanni Battista Giorgini, organiser of the seminal Sala Bianca.

This dramatic evening dress of green and pink silk is an excellent example of Capucci’s dramatic, individualist and gravity-defying later work fusing art and fashion.

Advertisement, Gianfranco Ferre, F/W 1991

A black and white photo of a fashionable woman in a suit posing for an Italian advert
© Gian Paolo Barbieri
This signature sophisticated white shirt by Gianfranco Ferre, known as "the architect of fashion", is shown in an advertising campaign photographed by Gianpaolo Barbieri.

The original art photography, recently donated to the V&A, will be shown alongside other examples of advertising including Benetton’s provocative campaigns which famously stimulated debate and raised the brand’s profile.

Silver sequin evening dress and matelasse coat, Mila Schön, 1966

A close up photo of a white female suit from an Italian fashion house with gold embroidery
© Courtesy Maison Mila Schön. Photo: Victoria and Albert Museum, London
At the legendary Black and White Ball held by writer Truman Capote in New York, described by Vogue as "Party of the Decade", Mila Schön was chosen above designers from Paris and London to create eveningwear for Maria Agnelli and Princess Lee Radziwill, who won the titles of best and third-best dressed guests.

Radziwill wore this ensemble consisting of an embroidered silver sleeveless dress with undulating stripes of silver sequins and bugle beads with a white silk coat accessorised with sequin collar and cuffs.

Invited to show at the Sala Bianca from 1965, Schön was a Milanese couturier known for her elegant, simple yet classical designs.

  • The Glamour of Italian Fashion 1945-2014 opens on April 5 2014. Exhibition sponsored by Bulgari.

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