Costume Gallery

Costume Gallery of Palazzo Pitti in Florence. This is the first museum owned by the Italian government entirely dedicated to the study and conservation of costumes, textiles, and clothing. The Gallery was inaugurated in Florence in 1983 under the direction of Kirsten Aschengreen Piacenti. It occupies 13 rooms in the Sundial Pavilion, a long neoclassic building started in 1776 placed, facing south, near the oldest part of Palazzo Pitti, the residence of Vittorio Emanuele II of Savoy during the years that Florence was capital of Italy (1865-1871). The costumes kept here cover a long period of time, with pieces of rare value that are unique in the world. They start with a famous group from the Medici family (coming from the tombs in San Lorenzo), consisting of garments that belonged to Cosimo I Grand Duke of Tuscany, Eleonora of Toledo, and Don Garcia, which are among the oldest still existing, going back to 1562. The Collection arrives in the present with meaningful examples of the work of the most important Italian figures in high fashion and prêt-à-porter, including Capucci, Missoni, Valentino, and Ferré. Since the year of its opening, the Gallery has displayed its great Collection through biennial rotations of costumes and accessories that have become a source of chronological and thematic exhibits on various topics. The Collections grow constantly thanks to the contributions of public and private donors, institutes, banks, and associations, among which is the very active Friends of the Costume Gallery. There were also important donations from the wardrobe of Franca Florio. and authentic costumes and clothes from the period 1700 to 1968 donated by the theater costume designer Umberto Tirelli. For the exhibitions, seven different types of dummies are used, depending on the era and the shape of the garment. There is also a Textile Restoration Workshop, something absolutely necessary for the proper maintenance of the Collection. At present directed by Carlo Sisi, with the collaboration of Caterina Chiarelli, the Gallery has over the years promoted several publications edited by scholars in the field, including La Galleria del Costume (5 volumes, from 1983 to 1993), Lo Splendore di una Regia Corte. Uniformi e livree del Granducato Toscano, 1765-1799 (1983); I principi bambini. Abbigliamento e infanzia nel Seicento (1985); Il guardaroba di Donna Franca Florio (1986): La donazione Tornabuoni-Lineapiù. Moda italiana degli anni ’50 e ’60 (1988): Spose in Galleria. Abiti nuziali del ‘900 (1989); Cerimonia a Palazzo. Abiti di corte tra ‘800 e ‘900 (1990); Umberto Tirelli, un omaggio (1991); Anni Venti — La nascita dell’abito moderno (1991); La donazione Emilio Pucci: colore e fantasia (1992); Moda della corte dei Medici. Gli abiti restaurati di Cosimo, Eleonora e don Garcia (1993); La veste del sonno. Letti e abiti da notte alla Galleria del Costume (1994); La donazione Roberta di Camerino (1995); Abiti in festa. L’ornamento e la sartoria italiana (1996); Eleganze della Moda fra ‘700 e ‘800 (1997); Il Salotto alla moda (1997); and Eleganze della Moda. La vita in villa (1998).
The Costume Gallery of Palazzo Pitti reopens, during the 58th edition of Pitti Immagine Uomo. Shown are about forty of the sixty-seven garments, complete with accessories (for a total of 300 pieces), donated to the museum by Gianfranco Ferré. These models are from 1986 to 1999, both high fashion and prêt-à-porter. The exhibit is organized by Margherita Palli, a set designer and collaborator of Luca Ronconi. Along with Ferré’s gift, the Gallery offers three other biennial exhibits: a selection of costumes and accessories from the 17th to the 20th centuries; Women’s Fashion in the ’30s, with paintings by De Chirico, Chessa, Donghi, Bacci and Sironi; and an exhibition of jewellery donated by Flora Wiechmann Savioli.
The Costume Gallery turns 20. and to celebrate the anniversary organizes three exhibits: The Garment and the Face, Stories about Costume from the 18th to the 20th Century; Alberto Lattuada. A Master at Polimoda; and Maurizio Galante. A Donation.