"Italian fashion - which encompasses designers and companies from Armani to Zegna - has become a dominant force in the fashion world. This stunning book discusses the rise of Italian fashion since 1945, the development of the Italian Look from the late 1970s to the present, and the many great designers who have contributed to Italy's fashion triumphs." This book is the catalogue for an exhibition, sponsored by the Italian Trade Commission, at The Museum at The Fashion Institute of Technology in New York City from February 11, 2003 through April 12, 2003.
Steele declares the coming-out party of Italian fashion as a July 1952 show at the sparkling Palazzo Pitti in Florence, which American fashion editor Bettina Ballard's summed up thus: It was so manifestly attractive to discover fashion in a country so full of treasures to see and eat, and people who were so polite and open-armed. Italian designers have buoyantly and sumptuously dressed the world for the 50 years since then. For this exhibition catalogue, Steele, chief curator and acting director of the Museum at the Fashion Institute of Technology, traces the evolution of Italy's casually elegant style from the birth of the country's fashion in the Roman Empire through the cultural dominance of Italian textiles in the 20th century. She discusses the distinctions between designers like Gianni Versace and Gianfranco Ferre, while also explaining the complex political and industrial underpinnings of the Italian fashion system. But despite some graininess and an indifferent layout, it's the 132 color and five b&w shots that really tell the story here: gorgeous fabrics, classic yet experimental lines and colors, alluring accessories. Short essays like The Rise of Milan and the Italian Look' and A Fellini-like Sensuality get shown up by photos of stunning clothes that strain against their frames. The result is awkwardly instructive and straightforward, too literal to be elegant. (Mar. 27) Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.