The Glamour of Italian Fashion 1945-2014
5 April – 27 July 2014
Research drawn from the Italian archives is used to examine the country's influential contribution to fashion over the last 60 years.
Watch our video-tour, presented by fashion writer Penny Martin.
Ever since the landmark Sala Bianca catwalk shows held in Florence in the early 1950s, Italian fashion has become synonymous with quality and style. Organised by Giovanni Battista Giorgini, these events presented the country's finest designs and became known as a viable alternative to Paris.
Here, a selection of 100 items of clothing and accessories by leading names such as Dolce & Gabbana, Giorgio Armani, Gucci, Missoni, Prada, Pucci, Valentino and Versace, chart Italy's fashion history over the last six decades.
What the exhibits highlight is the exceptional quality of techniques, materials and expertise involved in the production of Italian textile, which is linked to the strength of its spinning, dyeing, weaving, cutting and stitching industries. Some of these traditions have been practised in regions around the country for hundreds of years.
Special focus is given to the Hollywood films that were shot on location in Italy during the 1950s and 1960s, which saw stars like Audrey Hepburn and Elizabeth Taylor became style ambassadors for the nation's fashion.
Influential, yet lesser known figures, like post-war couturiers Sorelle Fontana and Mila Schön also feature, as well as industry innovators such as Walter Albini.
The display finds modern relevance by looking at how Italy's fashion industry is navigating the current shift towards overseas production, internet retail and digital communication.
Meanwhile, a series of filmed interviews with key protagonists across the design, manufacturing and media sectors explore the challenges and trends that will impact on the future of Italian design.