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The Glamour of Italian Fashion 1945 - 2014: Maker Interviews

A series of influential Italian designers, writers, artisans and creative directors reveal what 'Made in Italy' means to them and why Italian fashion has such enduring appeal. 


Since they commenced their creative directorship of Valentino in 2008, Maria Grazia Chiuri and Pierpaolo Piccioli have made a point of opening the exclusive and enigmatic world of couture to a new audience. From conducting atelier visits to clarifying the importance of the relationship between an idea and its making, the duo explain how and why they are presenting a less well-known side to "Made in Italy".

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“They [the emerging markets] want to dress like Italians", says Angela Missoni of the eponymous Italian fashion house known for its innovative way with pattern and textiles. In this interview, Missoni considers the origins of the company, its self-sufficient approach to manufacturing, and how she keeps 60 years of Italian design heritage relevant to the modern world.

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Fausto Puglisi

Fashion is, by necessity, an obsession for Fausto Puglisi, who designs his own label. Here he waxes lyrical about the wonder of Italian craftsmanship – something he sees as intrinsically connected to Italian society. But it is all underpinned by the opening statement: "To be proud to be Italian means to go out and discover new things". An attitude that took Puglisi to Berlin's S&M scene and then back to Tuscany's leatherworkers.

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Mariano Rubinacci, the head of second generation in a family of tailors, is among the world's principle flag-bearers for Neapolitan men's clothing, which, as he explains to us, is defined by its "unstructured", thus softer, style. That is not to say that Rubinacci's approach eschews flair: the jackets are lined with somewhat impractical silk – just for emphatically Italian fun.

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"Etro is about mixing up... to find sources of inspiration and then to mix them with something new to create something different", is what Jacopo Etro, son of the founder of Etro, tells us. Additionally, he explains the significance of the paisley pattern, and how Etro is a deeply Italian company that scours some of the world's unlikeliest places in the hunt for new textiles.

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The demands of working with leather, the enduring nature of techniques and tools developed in the 1950s, the challenges of technological innovation and the skill and experience required to create a model for a new bag – these are some of the subjects addressed by Gucci Artisan Francesco Cianferoni.

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Franca Sozzani

What is Italian fashion? We posited this question to Franca Sozzani, editor-in-chief of Vogue Italia. Her response takes into account quality, creativity, glamour and the Italian propensity for "playing" with the concept of luxury.

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Sponsored by Bulgari

Bulgari is proud to sponsor this exhibition. Bulgari is an emblem of Italian creativity and craftsmanship, renowned for its distinctively Italian style. From the 1960s Bulgari was acclaimed for creative designs incorporating colored gemstones. This exhibition features legendary jewels once owned by Elizabeth Taylor.

With support from

With thanks to the Blavatnik Family Foundation
With additional thanks to the American Friends of the Victoria and Albert Museum, Inc.

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