Most people realize how popular France is in the world of fashion. It may surprise you to know, however, that Italian clothes also have been at the height of fashion for many centuries. From the Renaissance to the millennium and beyond, Milan and Rome have held their own against Paris, Los Angeles and Tokyo with designs that fashionistas are dying to wear.
Italian Clothes during the Renaissance
Italy became the center of fashion during the 11th century, when Milan, Venice, Florence and Rome produced clothes, shoes and jewelry that were sought after throughout Europe. When the Renaissance gave birth to art, culture and beauty, Italian designs were the height of fashion. Clothes worn by Queen Catherine de Medici and the Medici family were considered trendy in English, French and German royal courts.
The passion for Italian design waned in the 17th century, and France became known as the cultural center of Europe. Textiles, shoes and jewelry from Italy gave way to dresses and accoutrements worn by French courtiers. Silk was still a profitable market for Italian merchants, however, and their imports from Asia allowed Italian clothiers to maintain a healthy trade.
20th Century Rebirth of Italian Clothes
In the 1950’s, Giovanni Giorgini sought to revive the world’s interest in Italian fashion. After holding several fashion shows around the world, the fever began to take hold once again. In the United States, a number of Hollywood stars wore Italian designs in the 1960’s, and the American rich started to see Italy’s designers as a status symbol of wealth and fame.
Some of the people who made Italian clothes popular were:
- First Lady Jackie Kennedy
- Grace Kelly
- Audrey Hepburn
The designers often created special clothing lines just for the stars who wore them. Gucci, Versace, Armani and Garavani all had their favorite stars, and went out of their way to create unique pieces. When Jackie Kennedy married Aristotle Onassis, Garavani created a special wedding dress.
This trend in expensive designs has continued over time. More recent stars who wear clothes from their favorite Italian designers include:
- Lady Gaga
Many designs are too expensive for the average person to purchase, but Italian designs haven’t always been exclusively for the rich. During the 70’s and 80’s, Italian clothiers became interested in everyday wear, such as jeans and miniskirts. While still more expensive than many jean designers, these jeans remained less expensive than many clothes put out by Armani and Gucci.
Italian Clothes as a part of their culture
Italian men and women have always considered clothing to be an important part of their lives. Creating a good first impression is paramount for Italians, and the way they dress is a part of that impression. This is why Italian designers have always stressed the importance of material and design in their creations.
Many of the famous design houses are native to Italy. In addition to Gucci and Armani, other newer designers have established themselves in the fashion world. Benetton, Miu Miu, and Etro have joined the ranks of famous Italian designers. Luxottica and Bulgari are jewelry brands that are also based in Italy and considered the height of fashion.
Milan and Rome remain vital cities in the world of fashion. In fact, Milan and Rome are in the top five most important cities for fashion in the entire world and beat out London for the title. New York and Paris are also in that group, so Rome and Milan are in very prestigious company.
Italy also has some of the most famous shopping districts in the world. The Via Montenapoleone fashion district is located in Milan and the Via de Condotti is in Rome. The Via de Tornabuoni is another vital shopping district. This fashion epicenter is in Florence, another important city in the world of fashion, although not as famous as Rome or Milan.
Italy’s desire to be the best dressed has led to the popularity of Italian clothes around the world. For nearly nine centuries, those who sought expensive clothes have sought designs from some of the oldest Italian fashion houses. Hollywood stars, the rich and powerful, and even famous politicians of the 60’s through the 2000’s have been proud wearers of Gucci, Versace, Armani, and Garavani. Some of these modern-day courtiers have requested special designs that cost thousands of dollars. One of the kind dresses for weddings, award ceremonies and other occasions are worn by American stars, dazzling the paparazzi and public alike.
When shopping for the latest trends, don’t just search for them in Chanel, Yves Saint Laurent, or Christian Dior. You should learn to speak Prada, the Italian design house from Milan that has become the language of fashionistas the world over.