From Publishers Weekly
Steele declares the coming-out party of Italian fashion as a July 1952 show at the sparkling Palazzo Pitti in Florence, which American fashion editor Bettina Ballard's summed up thus: It was so manifestly attractive to discover fashion in a country so full of treasures to see and eat, and people who were so polite and open-armed. Italian designers have buoyantly and sumptuously dressed the world for the 50 years since then. For this exhibition catalogue, Steele, chief curator and acting director of the Museum at the Fashion Institute of Technology, traces the evolution of Italy's casually elegant style from the birth of the country's fashion in the Roman Empire through the cultural dominance of Italian textiles in the 20th century. She discusses the distinctions between designers like Gianni Versace and Gianfranco Ferre, while also explaining the complex political and industrial underpinnings of the Italian fashion system. But despite some graininess and an indifferent layout, it's the 132 color and five b&w shots that really tell the story here: gorgeous fabrics, classic yet experimental lines and colors, alluring accessories. Short essays like The Rise of Milan and the Italian Look' and A Fellini-like Sensuality get shown up by photos of stunning clothes that strain against their frames. The result is awkwardly instructive and straightforward, too literal to be elegant.
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc.
"[The catalogue] beautifully illustrates the hallmarks of the most exclusive Italian design. . . . Steele offers an educated overview of Italian fashion." -- Pamela Klaffke, Calgary Herald