(21 Feb 2018) LEAD IN:
As Milan fashion week gets underway, the city's Palazzo Reale museum is exploring the history of Italian fashion, from the 1970s to the turn of the millennium.
But rather than books and sketches, it's bags and skirts.
Italian fashion can be extravagant at times.
At Palazzo Reale's new exhibit - 'Italiana. Italy through the lens of fashion 1971-2001' - curators have recreated this fashionista paradise, first featured in Italian design magazine 'Domus.'
It was called a "hypothetical home," imagined by designer Cinzia Ruggeri.
Published in 1983, the feature - called 'Enchanted Rooms' - is thought to have been one of the first to show how design and fashion can cross paths in a room. Dresses can be worn or used as ornaments.
The new exhibit, which opens on Thursday 22 February, aims to show the evolution of Italy, its culture and its people, through fashion from 1971 to 2001.
It's divided into nine different themes, presented in nine separate rooms.
In the room named 'Glocal,' there's several items that might raise a smile.
That includes this Moschino bustier dress with a cow on its gown. These Dolce&Gabbana shorts asking you if you feel sexy. And this Moschino smiley-face biker jacket.
At the heart of the exhibit are the pret-a-porter - or ready-to-wear - items. Those garments that are thought to have changed the fashion landscape, such as this Max Mara 101801 coat.
"It is often said that Italian fashion is boring," says curator Maria Luisa Frisa.
"Italian fashion changes the way the contemporary man dresses, changes the clothes, the people, and the woman in the 1900s. And that's why it is revolutionary, it intercepts the social necessities that are happening, starting after the end of the war and on to 1968 and after."
"To tell this story means to teach the new generations what Italy did in the past, so it helps them imagine something different for the future and for the global international audience this means reaffirming the qualities and the identity of Italian fashion."
Unsurprisingly, the room dedicated to 'The Italy of Objects' displays fashion items known worldwide, such as Fendi's 'Baguette' bag or Tod's 'Gommino' loafers.
For Carlo Capasa, the president of the Italian Chamber of Fashion, the exhibit is a history lesson through fashion.
"Fashion in those years has told the story of our country's evolution," he says.
"Feminism revolutions, which were extremely present in Italy in 1971, the date from which the exhibit starts, the birth of a growing bourgeoisie increased the purchasing power after the 50s and 60s and so people wanted to invest in their appearance, in the way they dressed, in their image and these were big moments of change in society.
Posters and magazine covers also give context to the clothes.
The aim is to explore the reasons why designers created certain pieces, and how these garments helped people forge new identities.
"We think that Italian designers were the first to solve some identity, to give an answer to identity, to changes that were happening in society and to new identities that were presenting and emerging," says Stefano Tonchi, an exhibit curator and the director of W Magazine.
"I'm talking about gender, I'm talking especially about the position of the woman in the Italian society, but in the world at large, women that were living with their families and going to work, and the Italian designers were probably the first to create a uniform for that woman.
"And it was not like a man's suit, it was a suit for women. And it was produced at high-quality and at an affordable price, that's why it was so successful."
But success can sometimes become excessive, that's probably what the 'Logomania' room tries to explore.
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