Victoria and Albert Museum

Founded by Queen Victoria as an expression of the tastes and trends that developed during her reign, this museum, inaugurated in 1840 with the specific intent of assembling a collection of fine fabrics and to design new materials for high couture and tailoring, came to focus over time on fashion. It now contains the world’s most important collection (80,000 items) in the areas of fabrics, outfits and costumes. Since 1971, it has chosen to focus its attention on the creatives of the twentieth century. Among the most popular rooms, is the one prepared by Cecil Beaton for the permanent exhibition entitled 400 Years of Fashion. Over time the museum has expanded its interests to include other sectors of arts and crafts.


Mario (1928-1991). Fashion designer of footwear and leather prêt-à-porter. He made his mark with his idea of lightening and coloring in unusual shades suede and working it as a yarn, after reducing it to strips. His first shoes with a decolleté and with stiletto heels were made of pink leather, when he set up his own little shop in Naples, continuing his father’s business (1953). A coral flower adorned one of his sandal models the next years. Now, at the Museum of Footwear in Paris, these creations are exhibited as an example of pioneering femininization. When his impulse to experiment led to the application of leather for blouses, jackets, trousers, and blazers, the results were immediately viewed as astonishing. Designed by Muriel Grateau in pastels, in cobalt, green, strawberry, and beaver, the runway presentations in Milan (1977) featured long capes in contrasting silks, barbaric and sumptuous, they revealed both stylistic innovation and artisanal flair. The next challenge was to employ leather for every possible use as a fabric. While fashion designers like Armani, Montana, Versace and Lagerfeld came to work for Mario Valentino, subtle colors were applied to leathers that were as soft and iridescent as silk, embossing simulating the wales of corduroy or the stripes of piqué, hand-fretwork evoking the lace of Sangallo, leather cut into the thinnest strips imaginable and then woven on a loom, to produce Prince of Wales weave effects, along with herringbone and tweed in avant-garde creations.


Family of hairdressers — at first, the brothers Cele, Lina, Bruno — which dictated fashion in hairdos, especially in Milan in 1960s and which is still well known and influential, with its geometric cuts. It was called the Casco d’oro, like the pop singer Caterina Caselli with her long blonde bangs that covered her eyebrows and the fade cut high up on the back of the neck: a creation that brought the name of Vergottini and their salon in the Via Montenapoleone to the front pages of the daily press. This led to the creation of the “vergottinata” look, either with long or short hair but always with an unmistakable, squared-off cut. From the United States, Paris, and London they would flock to the Via Montenapoleone, legendary journalists like Diana Vreeland, photographers like Bailey, Newton, Avedon, Clarke, and models like Veruschka, Fiona von Thyssen, Isa Stoppi, as well as movie stars (Monica Vitti) or television stars (Raffaella Carrà). Even the protagonist of the sophisticated graphic novel by Guido Crepax, Valentina, is a “vergottinata.” But alongside the smooth, squared-off hair in the Casco d’oro style, other lines and other cuts soon developed. Quite popular was the savage cut, created for the theater of Giorgio Strehler with Goldoni’s Il Campiello: a permanent with the hair dried naturally and distributed around the face in an unkempt manner.


There are many fashion designers who have taken their inspiration from this neighborhood in New York, or better, from the multiracial population that circulates there day and night, innovating their collections, beginning from the street, from spontaneous fashion. Some, like Gianni Versace and Donna Karan, have admitted this publicly, others have not. But it is in any case here, between Washington Square and Bleeker Street, that the creativity of the American melting pot is at its best, The young people of the Village often have no money for clothes: and so they recycle old clothing and old fashions, they invent new combinations and solutions that then they will find, reworked and refined, the following season in the chic display windows of Fifth or Sixth Avenue. Merchants have long since sensed the possibilities of selling used clothing, and so they palm off at absurd prices vintage rags upon Japanese tourists or the scions of New York’s well-to-do families. The stretch of Broadway, which cuts through the Village, between Eighth Street and Twenty-Third Street, is packed with this sort of vintage clothing shops, and it is an odd coincidence because it was precisely on this stretch of Broadway, at the end of the nineteenth century, that Ladies’ Mile extended, the most fashionable shopping area. For that matter, the Village is also filled with little T-“shirt shops and large chain stores like the Gap or Banana Republic. In the West Village, around Christopher Street, gay fashion is concentrated — often only to be coopted by the heterosexuals as well — while in the East Village it is still possible to find bars and restaurants where the passage of major figures in American culture, such as Allen Ginsberg and Bob Dylan, does not yet seem to be shrouded in the mists of the past. In the Village, in any case, it is still possible to breathe the air of freedom, outside of constricted rules, and in a costant state of evolution, despite the fact that long ago artists and intellectuals abandoned the Village in a quest for new areas in New York, such as TriBeCa or Harlem.


Philippe (1931). French designer. Born in Lyons, he began to work early as an apprentice to a local tailor, Pierre Court. He moved to Paris, in 1951, where he worked as a tailor and cutter for, first, Fath, and then Schiaparelli and later Givenchy. In 1962, he opened his own maison of high fashion and, the following year, he converted to prêt-à-porter. His outfits, “with nothing superfluous,” as he likes to say, had a simple and well-tailored line. In 1985, he won the Dé d’Or. The maison ceased operation in 1994.


Madeleine (1876-1975). French dressmaker. She sublimated the bias cut and brought many innovations into Parisian fashion between the two World Wars. She revolutionized dressmaking technique to the degree that she was compared, in the world of haute couture, to the protagonists of the avant-gardes painting in the twentieth century. Often, she would cut her creations in a single piece, sleeve included. She was especially interested in the perfect drop and drape of her outfits. In 1973, the Metropolitan Museum of New York held a major retrospective show of her work while she was still alive. In 1990, Editions du Regard published a biography: Vionnet by Jacqueline Demornex. She learned the trade in a little shop in the banlieue of Paris. At the age of 21, after a more-refined apprenticeship in a boutique of women’s underwear in the Rue de la Paix, a divorce, and the tragedy of a daughter’s death, she moved to London where she began working for the dressmaker Kate Reilly. When, in 1901, she returned to France she had sufficient credentials to be hired as a première by Madame Gerber, the fashion designer for the Callot sisters. In 1907 she went to work for Doucet and stayed there for five years, creating outfits that were moving against the grain, in contrast with the waning style of Art Nouveau. Her creations were light and airy, and they were modeled without corsets or busts (Poiret too had eliminated) and also creating shoes. In 1912 she opened her maison. Two years later, she was forced to suspend operations because the First World War had broken out. At the end of the war, her bias cut, her lavish drapery, which she tried and tried again on a dressmaker’s dummy 80 cm tall, and with a lavish use of fabric that made cost no object, ensured her a place in the spotlight. In 1922 the maison took offices at 50, Avenue Montaigne. Some ten years later, her success was documented by the existence of 20 ateliers on five stories and more than 1,000 employees, including premières, directors, sellers, tailors, seamstresses, administrative clerks, shop clerks, and delivery boys. The fashion designer had her alter ego in the dressmaker Marcelle Chapsal. She began working with her in 1912 and made her a partner, splitting the fashion house into two divisions. Her creations (almost always in crêpe, crêpe de chine, gabardine and satin) were so distinctive, destructured and draped, that often her clients required lessons in order to learn how to put them on. She was a trendsetter and was widely imitated, even when, in 1935, she shifted to Romanticism, with taffeta ribbons. She had closed up shop in 1914, at the outbreak of the First World War. She closed her business definitively in 1939 and retired for good, at the outbreak of the Second World War. She was 63 years old. She died 36 years later, just months short of turning 100 years old.

Via de’ Calzaiuoli

This is the heart of the historical center of di Florence: it runs from Piazza della Signoria to Piazza Duomo. The name comes from the calzolai, the artisan and merchants of the canvas footwear with soles that were so popular among the fashionable young people in Florence from the fourteenth to the sixteenth centuries. But already in the Middle Ages, the street was the center of the city business district. Overlooking this street were monuments of the importance of Orsanmichele, the thirteenth-century grain silo that was later transformed into a church, the most Florentine monument in Florence, as it has been called, because of its mixed character, both civil and religious. Over the centuries, the street, made into a pedestrian thoroughfare and closed off to cars, has preserved its original quality as a shopping center, becoming an obligatory passage for city shopping and tourism, in a cheerful but also chaotic melting pot of styles that range from youthful trend shops to souvenir shops and deluxe jewelers.


Trade name given in 1894 to an English-made fabric, light and gauzy, in a twill weave, in a 55 percent wool and 45 percent cotton blend. Soft and warm, it was originally used for making night shirts and men’s underwear, it is now used for men’s and women’s daytime shirts.


Donatella (1955). Italian designer. After taking a degree in languages at the University of Florence, with the support and the encouragement of her brother Gianni, she soon asserted her iron will and her modern intelligence. From the very beginning of Gianni Versace’s debut as a fashion designer, she was his closest colleague and his inspiration and muse. A real woman, who rendered concrete the volcanic and oneiric genius of her brother, unfailingly influencing his creative decisions. Through contacts and friendships with rock stars such as Madonna, Sting, Elton John, Jon Bon Jovi, Courtney Love, Prince and Jennifer Lopez, Donatella helped to transform the Versace label into a trademark with an international success. She joined the company as the director of photographic campaigns and later supervised the style of all the accessories and licensing lines, debuting as a complete fashion designer in 1993, when she designed her first Versus line. In 1997, following the murder of her brother, she took on the role of artistic director of the maison and, together with her brother Santo, she took over the direction of one of the largest luxury groups in the world. The Gianni Versace S.p.A. is one of the few griffes that control the entire production cycle of fashion products, from conception and design to production, marketing, and final sale, through boutiques that they run themselves and others in franchising. “Everything that I know about fashion I learned from Gianni. In particular, I can say that I learned from him always to try and seek out new things, even at considerable risk, and never to be afraid of criticism. The Versace style is constantly on a quest for what fashion is lacking,” says Donatella who, with her collections, has added her own modern and personal touch to the Versace style, attaining significant development in areas not strictly linked to apparel: the expansion of the Home Collection line, the new cosmetics lines, the creation of the Atelier line. If Gianni was a pioneer in the use of image in advertising campaigns, Donatella certainly continued his tradition.
&Quad;2002. Donatella confirmed her status as the favorite designer of the Asian market by winning the International Designer of the Year during the MTV Asia Awards. During the evening’s events, in Singapore, Donatella won over candidates of the caliber of John Galliano, Stella McCartney, Marc Jacobs, Miuccia Prada.
&Quad;2003. “This is the right time to make changes,” said Donatella. And so in the two Parisian haute couture events, no runway, only presentation.
&Quad;After Britney Spears, the singer Christina Aguilera was the new spokesperson for the lines designed by the fashion designer. The new campaign saw the popstar dressed in leather pants and biker jackets, brown wool or white leather trench coats.”


Marcel (1895-1961). Painter, illustrator. He worked for Vogue, illustrating the world of fashion and ateliers. Born in Budapest. He studied under Zala, the favorite sculptor of the emperor Franz Josef. In 1919, he moved to Vienna where he was successful as a billboard artist. But he considered it an expedient and little more. In 1925, he abandoned that successful career and left Vienna, traveling to Paris where he devoted himself to lithography: illustrations for numbered editions of Colette, Zola, and especially Pierre Louys and collaborations for fashion magazines.