Sep 7, 2014

60 Years of Made in Italy

Looking back at Dunia Fashyon posts it's quite easy to see that I've been quite obsessed with the label 'Made in Italy' - to me it conjures the image of fine craftsmanship especially in leather-ware and even clothing items. Even though I know that it's quite a rarity these days to find anything genuinely 'Italian' - the book Deluxe: How Luxury Lost Its Luster by Dana Thomas sheds a light on the scandal of putting a premium price on all things purportedly made in Italy, when some parts of an item are actually Chinese-made and the finishing touches and labels are only then finally done in Italy. Can't help but to feel naïve and cheated somehow...

However the arrival of 60 Years of Made in Italy exhibition at Pavilion Kuala Lumpur has proven that genuine Italian craftsmanship are really extraordinary and bears testimony to the world's ongoing obsession on made in Italy products. I was not present for the official launch - a bit bummed to miss Anna Fendi's presence (she is the second-born daughter of the founders of label), but from what I gather the responsible bodies have flown in iconic dresses from various Italian labels: existing brands interspersed with revived or now-defunct ones, just for KL-ites perusal. Have a look as I share my experience photographing almost all of the historical garments at Pavilion Kuala Lumpur recently...

The designer line-up is impressive - ranging from modern-day global giants like Versace, Salvatore Ferragamo, Prada (their contemporary collections are available at the Pavilion itself, of course) to longstanding haute couture houses like Franco Ciambella, to revived houses like Galitzine.

At the Pavilion entrance, before stepping down the gigantic staircase that lead us to the ground floor, Bvlgari makes it presence by having a mini-expo on their iconic jewelries, donned by an equally impressive list of silver screen stars. Milla Jovovich, Naomi Watts, Dita Von Teese and Adrian Brody are among the familiar faces who were accessorised with Bvlgari items on the red carpet.

Adrian Brody wearing Octo steel watch 

Carla Bruni wearing the Serpentini necklace 

Various historical designs from Bvlgari

The real action is actually happening on the steps, where about thirty garments or so are displayed. Alas, closer inspection is not possible as velvet ropes set a boundary between a visitor and the displayed creations. Thus my short 50mm portrait lenses could only capture the details from afar. Despite all that I think the fine craftsmanship is still evident in the photos.

Emilio Schuberth - dubbed as 'tailor of the stars', he was famous in 1940-1950's. Apparently Valentino was one of his students. 

Gattinoni couture dress - worn by Audrey Hepburn in the movie 'War and Peace', in which Gattinoni was nominated for Oscars (best costume category). 

Laura Biagiotti - I can't pretend that I'm familiar with off-kilter Italian labels but one outstanding remark that I could make regarding this label is the Biagotti hand bag line sells very well in Russia, judging from its abundance even in the small town of Volgograd. 

Pajama set by revived fashion house Galitzine (the designer who was responsible in making pajamas favorable - Jackie 'O wore her pajamas and in turn sent Galitzine a thoughtfully-written letter of appreciation). I love the updated pajama looks of the contemporary collections, another proof of a triumphant comeback like Carven.

Sorelle Fontana - or Fontana Sisters, a celebrity-driven label. They still run their atelier at Piazza di Spagna in Rome with Hollywood-centric / international clientele.

Pleated metallic gold dress from Krizia.  There's so much to talk about this brand! The creator Mariuccia Mandelli is 89 y.o and she created the iconic pleats as the label's identity, predating Issey Miyake (gasp!). Alber Elbaz (currently helming Lanvin) used to design for the house in 2000. Having bought by Chinese corporation Shenzhen Marisfrolg, the current CEO and creative director of the house is Zhu Chongyun

Marveling at this work of art. Issey Miyake must have been eating his heart out seeing this piece.

Rafaella Curiel - Frida Kahlo-inspired embroidered vest. 

Missoni knit dress (left), Valentino gown (right). 

Fendi furry goodness

Giogio Armani flowy dress

Salvatore Ferragamo mirroir dress


As a biased Prada fan it's sad to see the label being represented with these measly choices. But I guess this is as good as it gets as most other designers are allocated one dress per display only. Would love to see a full on head-to-toe Prada ensemble though.

Saucy Roberto Cavalli piece

The Versace dress, made popular by Jennifer Lopez

A bright Gucci number

Moschino 'bra' dress

Salvatore Ferragamo's take on chinoiserie

Going further down the centre court, there is a booth filled with all things Versace, that are not necessarily related to rest of the exhibits, but there's some self-gratification felt ogling at Atelier Versace gowns up-close and some elusive menswear blings too.

It's worth noting that Moschino has arrived at Pavilion (the second outlet after Suria KLCC).  These Instagram-worthy biker jacket bags by Jeremy Scott are ostentatious, but I guess it's part of Moschino design DNA after all...

The exhibition is sadly a much downscaled version from what they have in Rome (the Italian counterpart has over a HUNDRED garments displayed including menswear). But truth be told, it's quite a surprising feat for Malaysian fashion scene to hold such an important exhibition. This is somehow a baby step towards educating the Malaysian public (especially the fashion inclined) to appreciate and maybe learn a thing or two from Italian labels' sartorial prowess. I do hope that more enlightening exhibitions are held in the future. Maybe Elsa Schiaparelli's wondrous couture magic can be included next time, and I don't think that it's too farfetched to dream that one day a showcase of Parisian couture masters / London progressive designs can be held as well...

Hafidzudin Zainal

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