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Made in Italy Prelims-Sixties NEW_Made in Italy Grid 19/06/2013 16:22 Page 49

Drawing by Roberto Capucci of a dress dedicated to G.B. Giorgini, 2001 Giorgini Archive, Florence

Dress and cloak by Roberto Capucci in Bellezza, September 1952, p.51 Photo: Interfoto


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in sleek and simple models, the outcome of artistic

to Rome and then to Milan. By the early 1970s both

craftsmanship that had already become successful

sectors had become concentrated in Milan, a modern

abroad (Ferragamo’s shoes, Pucci’s outfits, handbags

and efficient industrial city with thousands of small/

by Roberta di Camerino, Gucci leather goods…).

medium companies. As a place of innovation in a wide

However, it is likely that buyers and the foreign press

variety of fields, this metropolitan area became Italy’s

were not attracted only by the products, but also by

most important industrial and manufacturing hub.

the allure and aristocratic manners of their creators, among whom representatives of Italian nobility such

As far as fashion jewellery is concerned, each region in

as Marquis Emilio Pucci, Baroness Clarette Gallotti

Italy contributed something: Milan offered factories

(Tessitrice dell’Isola), Marquise Olga di Gresy (Mirsa),

for mass production (Calestani being the most

Princess Giovanna Caracciolo Ginetti (Carosa),

important); Turin, Bologna and Florence were faithful

Simonetta Colonna di Cesarò, who married Gaio

to their tradition of crafts workshops where new

Visconti di Modrone (Simonetta), and members of the

trends were created (Turin) or artisans were inspired

wealthy industrial bourgeoisie of northern Italy such

by antique jewellery (Bologna and Florence); Venice

as Elvira Leonardi Bouyeure (Biki) and Giuliana Coen

was the homeland of low­cost beads and pierced glass

Camerino (Roberta di Camerino) stood out. With the

beads. Campoligure and Florence were known for

fashions shows staged at the Palazzo Pitti and the

their filigree work, while Torre del Greco has

parties organized simultaneously in the palaces of

traditionally been the source of cameos and coral with

Florence, furnished with antiques and old paintings,

its wide variety of workmanship techniques. In the

Giorgini gave foreign visitors a taste of the city’s

early 1950s the group of Italian designers and

atmosphere, marked by art and Renaissance culture.

producers of fashion jewellery already famous abroad

The masterly rendering of the products on show

grew to include Emma Caimi Pellini, Ornella and Canesi

evoked the artisans and botteghe (workshops) of

from Milan, Bijoux Elfe and Cascio from Florence,

yore, established to serve the local lords. Giorgini’s

Borbonese from Turin, and Myricae from Rome.

initiative was far more successful than expected and, under his guidance, it was repeated twice a year until

Moreover, the low cost of Italian labour made it

1965, attracting foreign buyers and journalists, who

possible to invest hours and hours of work in making

began to consider the Italian rendezvous a must for

clothing with a touch of modernity (boutique

their profession as fashion experts.

fashion), using quality fabrics and paying close attention to the cut; as well as the production of

Also in 1951, the 9th Milan Triennale devoted a section

accessories that combined flair, imagination, colour

to industrial design for the very first time with the

and humour. This combination of clothing and

exhibition entitled ‘La forma dell’utile’ (The shape of

accessories perfectly catered to the casual and

usefulness). Fashion and design (one of the highest

informal American lifestyle. Consequently, the figures

expressions of the national culture) are Italy’s two

for the export of these items to the United States are

most widely exported “products”. The fashion

unsurprising: in 1951 sales came to 600 million lire, a

industry, originally established in Florence, moved first

considerable sum for the era.3


Dress by Maria Antonelli Rome, 1951 Giorgini Archive, Florence

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Made in Italy Prelims-Sixties NEW_Made in Italy Grid 19/06/2013 16:36 Page 118


Necklace and slave bangle/cuff Meru, Italy, 1969 Brushed steel sheet cut and bent by hand (The bangle can be seen opposite; the necklace was also photographed by Gian Paolo Barbieri for the same shoot for Linea Italiana, May 1969, p.120)

Cole of California swimsuit in Helanea Lycra; slave bangle in Linea Italiana, May 1969, p.119 Model: Mirella Petteni Photo: Gian Paolo Barbieri


Made in Italy Seventies NEW_Made in Italy Grid 20/06/2013 09:24 Page 140


“Image as a project, fashion as anthropological design

plastic, with shiny and glacial findings in chrome, or

is the style of the architect Gianfranco Ferré ... He

bright and coloured enamel surfaces, as disconnected

himself says ‘I am very proud of my architectural

from every­day life as the surface of the moon, which

training, of my analytical and logical method that

had become familiar because of space missions. The

teaches how to educate creativity’.”


main protagonist of this style was Cascio in Florence. After years dedicated to the imitation of fine jewellery,

In September 1978 Gianni Versace made his debut in

in the ’70s this company found its way by adopting a

men’s fashion, with a show in his atelier in Via della

geometric and abstract style for its creations.

Spiga. Enrico Coveri, another young talent of Italian fashion, chose Paris for his debut. In November 1978

The second trend to emerge resulted from a return to

Giorgio Armani signed a contract with the Textile

the styles of the first quarter of the twentieth

Financial Group (TFG­Facis, Cori, Sidi, Marus), to which

century: the naturalistic flowing forms of Art Nouveau

he entrusted the production of his collections.

and the geometric shapes of Art Déco were reflected in the subjects of fashion jewellery, though made in

By the ’70s, fashion jewels had become less popular,

much larger dimensions.

perhaps because, from a feminist point of view, they were considered external symbols of a dated,

The geometric and modern trend, clearly inspired by

restricted femininity. Instead, the focus turned more

the French fashion, went well with luxury prêt­à­

to other accessories: the first shoes with heels set

porter clothes, while the revival of the past could be

with stones, buttons and buckles paved with

coupled with the colourful clothing of young people,

rhinestones, while complicated hair ornaments

characterised by flowing and drooping lines of light

completed very elaborated hairdos.

fabrics falling to the feet, but also by miniskirts that continued to please women despite having been in

In comparison to the sixties, in Italy and in the rest of

vogue for a good number of years.

the Western world the volume of real and fashion jewellery production decreased, in part at least

Young people wore anything, as long as it cost little

because of the atmosphere of fear caused by frequent

and was not ordinary. In clothing, tailored or mass

acts of terrorism, which meant people went out less

produced, it was a case of anything goes, from hot

often and, therefore, were less likely to dress up.

pants to puffed shorts like those for children, from masculine­cut tailored suits for career women –

Two main trends emerged. On the one hand,

double­breasted jacket and trousers, softened by long

influenced by artist’s jewellery from the ’50s, which

chains interspersed with golden beads – to the

were quite popular among upper­class women,

provocation of punks, young people with a tendency

geometric ornaments prevailed: simple and modern,

to nihilistic protest boasting Mohawk hairdos dyed in

technological and emotionally cold, often made of

bright colours, pierced with studs and safety pins, and


Advertisement for Bijoux Bozart in Linea Italiana Alta Moda, S/S 1970, unnumbered page Photo: Alfredo Pratelli

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sporting anti­system slogans on their T­shirts. Genres

a hybrid of the “nude” look and the “topless” style

were mixed and intersected, creating unisex style:

launched in 1964 by Austrian­born designer Rudi

men too, for the first time in the history of the 20th

Gernreich, who lived in America.

century, timidly began to use gems and jewellery, especially long necklaces.

In Milan from the late ’60s, new companies had begun to assert themselves in the field of fashion

The ornaments that accompanied these varied

jewellery: for example Sharra Pagano, who created

modes of dress were made of a plethora of

many of the jewellery pieces for Giorgio Armani;

materials: plastic, ceramic, enamel, anodized

Donatella Pellini, who inherited the business from her

aluminium, titanium, natural and dyed leather, rope

mother Carla, who in turn had inherited it from her

threads strung in the technique of macramé with

mother Emma Caimi; Merù, a small shop in Via

inclusions of glass beads and many chains, thin and

Solferino for fashion and fine jewellery for young

light, often ending with charms. In many fashion

people, with avant­garde shapes, inspired by abstract

jewellery pieces there was a combination of

art; and Ugo Correani, who manufactured jewellery

elements: both shiny and matt surfaces, gold or

pieces designed by Walter Albini and by Gianfranco

silver coloured, embedded into each other with

Ferré (for Albini and for his own Gianfranco Ferré

screw mechanisms. Sometimes several metal chains

brand). During the second half of the ’70s, Ugo

were mixed with rhinestone chains, strings of pearls

Correani became the favourite creator of jewellery for

and stones woven like fabric gave shape to boleros,

many top fashion designers, both French and Italian,

tops, corsets, miniskirts and minidresses. These were

including Lagerfeld, Versace, Lacroix, and Valentino.

“Bee” brooches set with coloured stones. Made by Cascio for Lancetti in Vogue Italia, September 1971 Photo: Oliviero Toscani


Choker by Sharra Pagano in Linea Italiana, S/S 1971, p.109 Photo: Jacques Bugat

Made in Italy Nineties NEW_Made in Italy Grid 20/06/2013 10:04 Page 241

Naomi Campbell wears Versace fashion jewellery Designed by Ugo Correani for Gianni Versace in O. Calabrese, Gianni Versace Vanitas, Lo stile dei sensi, Vol. 1, Leonardo Editore, Milan, 1991, p. 194 Photo: Irving Penn Versace Archive, Milan

Made in Italy Nineties NEW_Made in Italy Grid 20/06/2013 10:04 Page 242


as the Americans say: from long to short, from soft to

To avoid homogenisation, by the end of the eighties

fluffy, from the fifties to the sixties, tartan shirts like

and then increasingly in the nineties, various fashion

in the old West and Hawaiian flowers, from rugs with

designers transformed catwalk shows into unique

native Indian designs to cowboy­style hats, from

‘happenings’ in order to create a specific identity for

rigorous lines (like in Armani suits) to evanescent and

their own style and to communicate directly with

deconstructed dresses (in the manner of Romeo Gigli

their customers. The shows had become real events,

and Japanese minimalists).

complete with music, lights, decor, perfume, fantastic scenery, endorsements from famous faces… The new

From 1990 to 1994 fashion designers – including

icons of the nineties, top models such as Naomi

Prada, Gucci and Dolce & Gabbana – left behind

Campbell, Claudia Schiffer, Cindy Crawford and Linda

anarchy and, through their desire to redefine fashion,

Evangelista – goddesses because of their beauty and

launched new collections that led to a simple and

presence – graced the stage. And in these

sober way of dressing in the second half of the

performances, lasting about half an hour, accessories


played a starring role.

Fashion designers, not only Italian, sought inspiration

It could be said that the design of the actual clothes

in museums and archives, ideas from paintings and

was reinforced by immaterial elements such as the

frescoes, from Etruscan and Roman findings, and

emotions provoked by these short fashion shows, or

studied Baroque and early 20th­century aesthetics

by the advertising images that evoked a style, a

with modern eyes.

desirable situation, a virtual dream lived for a few moments…

From this amalgam of historical memory and contemporary taste sprang haute couture collections

Many were conquered by those flashes of unreal life

and luxury ready­to­wear lines. In order to bury the

transmitted by television, an advertising vehicle of

cliché of the eighties outfit ­ jacket, short skirt or

immeasurable value; and they bought the branded

trousers, with ballerina pumps or stilettoes –

designer accessories that symbolised the dream. In

designers looked for new emotions and stimuli in the

doing so they provided a healthy income for the

art movements and trends that had characterised the

designer to offset against the heavy expenditure

last forty years, rather than creating genuine

incurred by the catwalk ‘happenings’. If in the eighties

innovations. Moreover, unlike in the past, when each

the dress was the star in the fashion system, in the

cultural area had its own style typical of that territory,

nineties the signed accessory prevailed. In Italy alone,

during the last decade of the 20th century fashion

the must­have were: the Prada backpack and plastic

trends went global, driven by clever and expensive

bag, Tod’s loafers, and the skilfully worked bags by

advertising campaigns. Products were made available

Fendi and Bottega Veneta.

to buyers from all around the world through e­ commerce; the internet created a single market, with

In contrast to the hedonism and materialism of the

no real or cultural boundaries.

eighties, in the nineties there was an affirmation of


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Collar necklace with floral motif Emilio Cressoni Lake Garda, 2009 Hand­worked and hand­cut aluminium, gilded metal findings Private collection

Pair of “pop” bracelets Irene Moret for 2icedesign Milan, 2007 Cotton and latex Made for the exhibition “Street art, sweet art” at the PAC in Milan, 7 March – 25 April, 2007 Photo: Alberto Aliverti Private collection


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“Winter Blackberry” ruff Silvia Beccaria Turin, 2008 Hand­woven cotton and neoprene Private collection

Chain necklace Thomas Roberts Milan, 2009 Hand­worked and brushed 4 mm aluminium rod Private collection, Milan


Fashion Jewellery: Made in Italy  

A stunning survey of fashion jewellery made in Italy during the 20th century, and its symbiotic relationship with Italian fashion