How Italian fashion is collected, preserved and analysed: unfolding the relationship between scholarship and production in the establishment of fashion collections in Italy, 1995-2015.
London College of Fashion
The research investigates two related fields of recent academic interest: Italian fashion history and fashion curation. The discourse on fashion curation features predominantly British and American voices and it has focused mainly on display processes rather than collecting practices. To date, there has been no detailed critical analysis of fashion and textile collections in Italy.
The Italian fashion system is renowned for the symbiotic relationship between the textile and fashion industries. Histories have been written on this topic, but how have scholars written these histories? How have socio-cultural and geographical circumstances impacted upon the collecting and study of fashion and textiles?
The aim is to answer these questions by analysing case studies over the past two decades. The 1990s witnessed an unprecedented interest in fashion exhibitions, both by institution leaderships and visitors. In Italy, this trend manifested in the institutionalization of company archives (Museo Ferragamo, Florence, 1995) as well as in the fashionization of renowned fine-arts events (Fashion Biennale, Florence, 1996). Moreover, exhibitions in textile museums developed a marked focus on fashion (Fondazione Antonio Ratti, Como; Museo del Tessuto, Prato).
The Giorgio Armani exhibition at the Guggenheim Museum in New York (2001) formed the permanent collection now held at the Armani/Silos in Milan (2015). Following Armani, other Italian brands have taken an active role in the curation and promotion of their heritage, both physically (Gucci Museo, Florence, 2011) and digitally (Valentino Garavani Virtual Museum, 2011).
As an Italian-speaking alumnus of LCF MA Fashion Curation and having worked in museums and educational establishments in both countries, I am uniquely positioned to delineate a history of fashion collections in Italy and situate the associated practices within the international curatorial discourse.