Made in Italy

By Corrine Ciani (California State University in Florence)

Crowds of people find their way up to what seems to be a never-ending staircase at the extraordinary Palazzo Pitti. As people disperse into different sections of the museum and I find myself standing in front of glass doors that lead towards the Archivio Foto Locchi, containing 100 photographs that have the ability to transport you to a different time.

The exhibit, Fashion in Florence Through the Lens of Archivio Foto Locchi, contains 5 rooms each filled to capacity with photographs that link together fashion and it’s impact in Florence. I was surprised to find was that this exhibition was not only about the couture within Florence as I previously expected. As I glanced at each image I noticed something beyond the clothing, this being the women and men photographed. With each picture I found a light shined upon Italian women captured at their most confident state, surrounded by a world that not many get to experience.

The photographs of these women hold elegance, glamour, and an authenticity that can only be caught on camera. Each picture held such a presence within the rooms that I completely forgot that I was in a museum. The images told a story of the designers and their muses, while also presenting the force Florence had on the fashion world. The first room showcases the start of fashion in Florence, displaying photographs of the beloved Salvatore Ferragamo, French designer Elsa Schiaparelli and the exquisite women that wore their designs for shows and events. The rooms that follow displayed where fashion events were held, this being The Boboli Gardens and the museum I was standing in. Ruffles upon ruffles, embroidered black velvet flowers against pure white silk, the amounts of detail shown through the photographs were astonishing.

As I moved through the rooms I found that the photographs painted a scene of what fashion during that time actually was, ranging from models walking down a runway to the process of leather being made and straw purses being put together. Fashion through a lens exhibits not only a image of a model walking down a runway but also involves editors with a cigarette in their mouths taking notes front row and leather workers surrounded by potential Gucci bags at Gucci workshops. Each room unveils a new layer of how limitless the fashion world was and currently still is.  The impressive change in fashion during the 1930s through the 1970s illustrates a completely new woman. From the hairstyle to the added flare and taller heels, the photographs show it all.

The exhibit, Fashion in Florence Through the Lens of Archivio Foto Locchi provided a window into the fashion scene in Florence during the years 1930 through 1970, which in return allows those who had the chance to stand in front of these photographs make sense of fashion today.

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