HISTORY IS MADE UP OF A SERIES OF ANECDOTES AND A COLLAGE OF STORIES.
So it is for fashion, which is actually the history of custom/tradition which is that of life itself.
50 years of history assembled in a photo collection, newspaper articles, letters and scraps of memory. The order of dates and vague recollection are in themselves not really important. What is important is the substance or the big picture. There is no need to read through the records, nor in my opinion for yet another fashion biography. The dates may not be in order and some names may escape me. Rattling off episodes, names of places and thoughts are not essential. What is important is to evoke the sensations, impressions and details which can help understand the exciting and frenetic atmosphere in which the adventure took place. When fashion was still based on the gossip of the seamstresses and milliners
in Torino and a few others scattered along the Italian peninsula, they chatted about the outfits in American films and tried to imagine their colors. Who ever bothered to mention the name the costume designers of those fabulous outfits in black and white? Then Hollywood discovered Rome and all the stars, whether they knew it or not, became ambassadors of our tailoring expertise and spread the word about Italy’s centuries old sartorial skills around the world. The excitement rose every six months. The presentations were no longer just fashion shows; with dozens of newspapers represented and hundreds of reporters and photographer, the fashion shows had become “events”. Just what firms try to invent today..
“Made in Italy” was growing. High fashion had started the whole thing but eventually it became evident that some form of organization was needed.
Paolo Marinotti had made an initial attempt in Milan by promoting, with the Centro Italiano della Moda, the Snia Viscosa fibers.
The Ente Italiano della Moda, together with the Fondazione Gianni Agnelli, headed by Amos Ciabattoni, had kept an eye on the development and invited us all to Torino where we met with sociologists and others in order to evaluate the current situation and prospects for the future.
The need to organize was finally satisfied with the birth of the Camera Nazionale dell’Alta Moda Italiana.
It was a period of economic growth and enthusiasm. The parameters of a “fashion system” began to emerge. The textile manufacturers, whose names until then had only been known by people in the trade, came to the forefront (where they remain today) signing contracts with designers and supplying them with the fabrics needed to create the outfits. The best artists sketched the models and costume designers helped make unforgettable films, schools of fashion design (l’Academia di Moda e Costume, la Koefia, l’Academia Altieri, Istituto Europeo del Design, l’Istituto Italiano della Moda, l’Istituto per l’arte Orafa), with their promising young students, rose to become integral and vital cogs of the fashion system. The more one looked around, the options seemed endless. The handwriting was on the wall announcing a new philosophy of work.
The social phenomenon that was making our fame was at the same time becoming a subject of study at university. The ever widening distribution of brand names was another leap forward in our evolution. Many pattern cutters and other specialized craftsmen, in Italian called “mani d’oro” were drafted into the industry. The world of craftsmen went into crisis as manufacturers deviated new generations from embarking on careers of manual, yet creative, labor. Inspiration slid off of the runway and was rendered famous by every form of communication. Only a few of us resisted, not because we thought we were better but due to our upbringing or traditions or decision to conduct the wobbling lifeboat of high fashion through the breakwaters of competition that, even if it was not acknowledged, owed its origins to the laws of economics and to the changing mores of society.
The film industry did not ignore us either. We flew high...as high as one could go.