Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II – prime Milan shopping destination! Photo: Visual Hunt
How could we conclude a month’s worth of blogs on Italy without talking about fashion? After pasta and espresso, isn’t it what every Italian can’t live without?
Italy has produced fine fabrics, laces and other luxury products for centuries, and is still one of the global leaders of fashion – all you need do for proof is to go to Milan during Fashion Week! It’s pretty difficult to narrow the list of our favorite Italian fashion designers, but here is a start!
A selection of Fortuny Delphos Dresses, on display at the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Costume Institute. Photo: Visual Hunt
You can still visit the Palazzo Fortuny in Venice today, the home of the Spanish-born artist and designer Mariano Fortuny. His couture house was open between 1906 and 1946, during which time he created avant-garde designs that stood apart from the fashionable silhouettes of the day. He also looked to history and Eastern cultures in particular for inspiration. For instance, his finely pleated silk, Greek-inspired Delphos gown, which you’ll find in many museum dress archives today, did away with the corset!
Fontana sisters’ dress on display. Photo: Visual Hunt
The Fontana sisters are not known in many fashion circles today, but they were incredibly popular between 1943 and 1972, when their couture house was open. Created by sisters Zoe, Micol and Giovanna, their garments clothed some of Hollywood’s biggest names including Jackie O, Grace Kelly and Liz Taylor.
A giant replica of Ferragamo’s famous 1938 platform shoe. Photo: Visual Hunt
Salvatore Ferragamo’s company still produces the beautiful leather footwear it was so known for in its early days in Florence. Many of his iconic creations, such as the “rainbow platform show” made for Judy Garland in the late 1930s, were the result of experimentations with new materials such as cork because of wartime rationing during WWII.
Classic Pucci scarves on display! Photo: Visual Hunt
What began as skiwear designs to cloth his socialite friends launched Emilio Pucci to the upper echelons of Italian fashion. Still produced today, the classic designs of Emilio Pucci can be described geometric and kaleidoscopic pastel prints that are applied to every type of garment, especially in the form of a silk scarf!
Roberta di Camerino velvet bagonghis. Photo: Visual Hunt
Roberta di Camerino
Roberta di Camerino was a brand designed by Giuliana at its most famous in the 1970s. Known for velvet bags and tromple l’oeil designs that hark back to Giuliana’s Venetian upbringing, they are iconic examples of Italian fashion heritage.
A Gucci runway show in the 2000s. Photo: Visual Hunt
Founded by Guccio Gucci in 1921, the family-run brand Gucci has known many transformations and designers, notably Tom Ford and Alessandro Michele today. Since its origins as a leatherwear company, the brand has expanded immensely, although they are still known for accessories such as belts and bags.
Window shopping outside Valentino. Photo: Visual Hunt
After learning the trade working for French couturiers including Cristobal Balenciaga and Jacques Fath, Valentino Garavani opened his own couture house in 1959. He has known immeasurable success and still designs his breathtaking and sculptural garments today, never seeming to lack inspiration.
The Versace store at 11 Via Montenapoleone, Milan. Photo: Visual Hunt
Versace is known for its bold, skin-tight designs, first by Gianni Versace (from the company’s creation in 1978 to his death in 1997) and today by his sister Donatella Versace.
Caleidoscopio Missoni Exhibition. Photo: Visual Hunt
Tai and Rosita Missoni founded their company in 1953 and are still known for the bright, silky knits that stood apart from what had been done in knitwear previously. They’ve had numerous collaborations with other designers, including Emmanuelle Khanh, and continue to make innovative work for the body and home.
Prada Billboards. Photo: Visual Hunt
In 1913, Mario Prada founded the company that is still at the height of Italian fashion today. Now run by the talented Miuccia Prada (along with sister brand Miu Miu), it has expanded immensely from its original leather goods specialty. In the 1990s especially, everyone had to have a Prada bag!
Armani Billboards. Photo: Visual Hunt
And as an added bonus……….
No list of Italian fashion designers is complete without mentioning Giorgio. We think the term “Armani suit” speaks for itself!