Only one museum in Italy is dedicated entirely to the history of fashion, and it is no coincidence that the Costume Gallery is located in Florence. This Italian city boasts a prestigious tradition in fashion, for which it is famous around the world.
It is commonly believed that Italian high fashion was born in Florence in 1951 when Giovanni Battista Giorgini, a pioneer in this sector, organized a fashion show at Villa Torrigiani in the presence of many important international buyers. The event was so successful, and later shows were held in the Palazzo Pitti.
Shortly thereafter, “Made in Italy” became a globally recognized phrase, and the Italian fashion industry began to compete with French designers.
Today, many prominent fashion shows are held in the Sala Bianca of Palazzo Pitti, the museum complex that is also home to the Costume Gallery, which is located in the Palazzina della Meridiana.
This neoclassical structure was built between 1776 and 1816 on behalf of Grand Duke Peter Leopold of Lorraine. One of its most memorable features is the astronomical sundial of the same name as the building, which was constructed in 1699 and hangs in the apartment of Ferdinando de’ Medici.
Beginning in 1983, the building began to house the Costume Gallery’s collection of more than six thousand pieces that includes clothing and fashion accessories from the eighteenth century through the present.
When you visit, you can admire court and gala gowns, haute couture dresses, and theatrical and cinematic costumes.
Many of the works come from famed contemporary designers, such as Valentino, Versace, Armani, Missoni, and Saint Laurent.
This exhibition seeks to explore idea of the history of fashion over the centuries. All the clothes are arranged on mannequins that were made in the same era, which provides insight into the changes in taste compared to the ideal of female beauty over the years.
The museum’s collection has been amassed thanks to private donations from the likes of celebrities such as Donna Franca Florio (a Sicilian aristocratic who was very famous during the belle époque) and Eleonora Duse (a famous Italian theater actress).
There are also a number of interesting items on display, including theatrical costumes, funeral clothes and many accessories that belonged to the Medici family.
With so many different pieces in this collection, there is only room to display a limited amount at a time. The exhibition of costumes in the gallery is changed every two years to allow the public to glimpse the numerous exquisite pieces belonging to the Costume Gallery.
The delicate nature of the materials kept at this museum requires constant vigilance to protect and preserve their precious heritage, which is why there is an on-site textile workshop that operates year-round.
Pictures by Wikipedia and ifmparis.blog.lemonde.fr