The Glamour of Italian Fashion 1945-2014 at the V&A focuses on the defining factors of the industry, from the luxurious materials to the sleek tailoring, and showcases some of the country’s leading fashion house designs.
Many of the designs on show, such as the diamanté-encrusted evening dress by Maria Antonelli, have been favoured by Italian film stars. Couture Valentino woollen coats and dresses are also on display, alongside the famous Bulgari emerald jewels once owned by Elizabeth Taylor.
The exhibition examines the impact of many Hollywood films that were shot on location in Italy during the 1950s and 60s, a time when Audrey Hepburn and Elizabeth Taylor became style ambassadors for Italian fashion.
Bringing the exhibition up to date is work by Valentino’s new designer duo, Maria Grazia Chiuri and Pierpaolo Piccioli, and one of the bold ready-to-wear pieces from the S/S 2014 show of Fausto Puglisi, a young Italian designer acclaimed by press and international buyers.
Exhibition curator Sonnet Stanfill talks about her favourite dress from the exhibition.
Across town at the Barbican, but seemingly a million miles from the serene elegance of the V&A, the Jean Paul Gaultier world tour has pitched camp.
The enfant terrible of the fashion world doesn’t disappoint, with a show that is as much about performance and theatre as it is about the clothes.
Animated mannequins stare down at you, speaking or singing as you pass by. An oddly static Gaultier welcomes you, as does his Spitting Image puppet, of which he is immensely proud. Figures wearing bondage-inspired outfits pose in darkened rooms.
This exhibition brings together more than 140 outfits, both couture and ready-to-wear, spanning the past four decades, as well as stage outfits such as the conical corset bustier designed for Madonna on her 1990 Blonde Ambition world tour.
A section of the exhibition is dedicated to Gaultier’s muses, including Amy Winehouse, David Bowie and Kylie Minogue.
A wall of videos show costumes created for films such as The Fifth Element.
The Glamour of Italian Fashion 1945-2014 at the V&A, 5 April – 27 July 2014, and The Fashion World of Jean Paul Gaultier: From the Sidewalk to the Catwalk at the Barbican, 11 April – 25 Aug 2014.
Written and presented by LAYLA CHESHEM-PANAM
Filmed by MARTIN KENNEDY