Italian Fashion Retrospect

Italian Fashion Retrospect:Its History and Influence

Versace, Armani, Prada, Fendi, Gucci – to the world at large, these are names synonymous with luxury, class, and elegance. Ubiquitous on the red carpet, celebrities and the social elite have formed an almost cult following around these lavish brands. But beyond being the celebrity favorites, to the world of fashion, these Italian fashion powerhouses of design have had a significant influence on the world of high fashion and haute couture.

Italian fashion has a long and storied history of influence on the rest of Europe and the world. Fashion was influenced heavily by the art of painters like da Vinci and Michelangelo and, even as early as the Renaissance, traveled westward from Milan, Venice, and Rome. Italian fashion was rich, extravagant, and luxurious – crafted from velvet, brocade, and ribbons.

While the influence of Italian design and fashion waned over the next several centuries, Italian fashion experienced a resurgence of its impact on worldwide design when Giovanni Battista Giorgini hosted a fashion show in Florence. Italian handbags and accessories were soon gracing the bodies of celebrities like Grace Kelly and Audrey Hepburn.

By the 1960s Italian fashion caught the eye of style influencers such as Jackie Kennedy, who formed a close relationship with Italian designer Valentino Garavani. Italian fashion designers, like Italian Renaissance painters, have been at the forefront of influence and style, and desirability since then. Take, for instance, Armani and Max Mara whose simple timeless designs focused on one single element. This approach held an appeal for the fashionistas of the 1960s, 70s, 80s and beyond. Giorgio Armani’s gender equality approach to design spoke to a generation of women breaking free from traditional gender roles.

Italian fashion focuses on details, like the use of rich luxurious fabrics and avant-garde designs. This focus speaks of an almost sixth sense for trend and taste. Holding true to the Italian aesthetic and craftmanship, the bedrock of today’s well known fashion – Versace, Armani, and Dolce & Gabbana – opened their doors in Milan in the 1970s and 1980s and have been setting the bar for both ready to wear and haute couture ever since.

Italian designers also took their cues from artists, moving away from the more cultured and structured style of Parisian design toward the influence of art movements like Bauhaus. But “Made in Italy” is not just a stamp, it is a high water mark of quality. The Italian focus on not only design, but of the luxuriousness of the materials used in their design, harkens back to the guilds of yesteryear and holds sway over global fashion.