BOOK REVIEW: Italian Style – Fashion Since 1945

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One of the mysteries that Italy presents to the world is how style seems to come so naturally and happen so easily in the nation’s disparate regions and within all walks of life. It is as if elegant design in clothing, shoes, accessories (and just about everything else) grows naturally in the surroundings, like grapes in a trusted vineyard.

Italian clothes are like California wines: world-class but once relatively unknown internationally until the occurrence of a singular event. For the wines of California, the moment came in Paris, at a blind tasting on 24 May 1976 (known to oenophiles as (the “Judgment of Paris”) during which New World wines beat their French counterparts in every category. The moment of clarity came for Italian fashion when the Florentine buying agent Giovanni Battista Giorgini invited the forces of international fashion to attend a group show held on 12 February 1951; the experience was new for all involved, so to create an appropriate venue, Giorgini simply opened up his Tuscan mansion, the Villa Torrigiani. Editors from the foreign media such as Harper’s Bazaar and, most important, buyers from foreign retailers such as Bergdorf Goodman came to have a look. What they saw in that unique group audition was something of a unitary vision—an interpretation of womenswear based on fine materials and artisanal workmanship, shown in designs embodying the Italian ideal of relaxed grace. Those clothes and others in the shows that followed looked not merely pleasing to the eye but eminently wearable—something of considerable value to the Americans, whose “house style” had always been more about comfort and ease than that of the French, who were, until that moment, undisputed as the leading exponents of Continental style and glamour in women’s clothing.

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Credit:  Alan Behr

Reposted with Permission by CultureKiosque (www.culturekiosque.com). Originally posted on December 8, 2015.