History of Italian fashion
The History of Italian fashion refers to important events and occasions which marked Italian fashion and how it evolved to being how it is today.
Italian fashion in the Middle Ages and the Renaissance
Fashion in Italy started to become the most fashionable in Europe since the 11th century, and powerful cities of the time, such as Venice, Milan, Florence, Naples, Vicenza and Rome began to produce robes, jewelry, textiles, shoes, fabrics, ornaments and elaborate dresses. Italian fashion reached its peak during the Renaissance. As Italy is widely recognized as the cradle and birthplace of the Renaissance, art, music, education, finance and philosophy flourished, and along with it, Italian fashion designs became immensely popular (especially those worn by the Medicis in Florence. The fashions of Queen Catherine de' Medici of France, were considered amongst the most fashionable in Europe).
Italian fashion in the 15th and 16th centuries was mainly influenced by the art of the time, especially by the masterpieces of Michelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci, Raphael and Botticelli. Italian designs were well known for their extravagance, and extremely expensive accessories, such as velvets, brocades, ribbons and jewels. Also, Italian fashion for ladies changed dramatically since 1460, where skirts were gathered or pleated, and would often split up to see a sleeveless underdress.
Decline of Italian fashion
In the 17th century, Italian fashion fell into decline, after the designs of the Spanish, English and French courts took over the lead. In France, French fashion became the most popular in Europe, until the 1950s and 60s when Italian fashion retook its position of importance in the fashion world.
Despite this decline, however, there was some fashion and clothing activity, especially in Rome, Milan and Florence In the mid-19th century cheaper silk began to be imported to Milan from Asia and the pest phylloxera damaged silk and wine production. More land was subsequently given over to industrialisation. Textile production was followed by metal and mechanical and furniture manufacture. Some of the first Italian fashion houses such as Bulgari, Prada, Gucci and Ferragamo were founded in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.
The revival of Italian fashion
On 25 February 1951, Italian businessman Giovanni Battista Giorgini, held a fashion show in Florence, as he wanted to re-make Italy the international trendsetter for designs. Prior to his 1951–53 soirées, Italy had been exporting luxury fashion goods and handbags to other nations and the USA. His fashion shows were a huge success, and saw the possibility of Italy returning to its original position. In the 1960s, the designer handbags produced by Gucci drew the attention of numerous stars and celebrities, such as Grace Kelly, Peter Sellers, Audrey Hepburn and Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, and Gucci's "GG" monogram logo became synonymous with Hollywood chic. American First Lady Jackie Kennedy became a close friend of Italian designer Valentino Garavani, and was well known for having worn his clothes eversince 1965, and at her marriage to Aristotle Onassis. Even though Florence was Italy's fashion capital in the 50s and 60s, Milan led the way in the 70s and 80s, with then-new labels, such as Versace, Armani and Dolce & Gabbana opening up and setting up their first boutiques and emporia. Until the 1970s, Italian fashion was mainly designed for rich and famous people, more or less like the French "Haute Couture". Yet, in the 1970s and 80s, Italian fashion started to concentrate on ready-to-wear clothes, such as jeans, jumpers and miniskirts. Milan became more affordable and stylish for shoppers, and Florence was deposed of its position as the Italian fashion capital. In the 1990s, also, new clothing labels, such as Miu Miu and Geox, started to appear around the world. Today, and during that period, many famous celebrities, such as Beyoncé, Axl Rose, Elton John, Naomi Campbell, Elizabeth Hurley, Lady Gaga, Victoria Beckham, Madonna, Britney Spears, Rihanna, Alexandra Burke, Christina Aguilera, and even Diana, Princess of Wales, are or were famous clients of numerous Italian fashion brands, such as Dolce & Gabbana, Gucci and Versace.
Today, Milan and Rome are Italy's fashion capitals, and are major international centres for fashion design, competing with other cities such as Tokyo, Los Angeles, London, Paris and New York. Also, other cities such as Venice, Florence, Naples, Vicenza, Bologna, Genoa and Turin are important centres. The country's main shopping districts are the Via Montenapoleone fashion district and the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele (Milan), Via dei Condotti (Rome), and Via de' Tornabuoni (Florence).
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