When people think of Italian fashion, the first place that comes to mind is Milan, given that it is where majority of the world’s important fashion shows take place. However Milan has only been a leading player in Italian fashion for the last 25 years. Italian fashion originated, in fact, in Florence.
Businessman Giovan Battista Giorgini organized the first Italian fashion show on February 12, 1951 and featured 180 collections at his residence in Villa Torrigiani, Florence. The event comprised just eight American buyers and one journalist but despite the small number of attendees the show was a huge success, and swivelled the world’s attention to Florence.
Following the triumph of his first fashion show, Giorgini organized a second show, held in June 1951 at the Grand Hotel in Florence, which featured designers from Rome, Milan, Turin and Florence. As his second show was once again a hit, Giorgini kept the ball rolling, launching the Renaissance of Florentine design and turning the city into the Italian fashion capital.
When eight Roman designers left Florence and took their garments to Rome, a commotion was sparked that led to the decision to grant Florence the power to showcase accessories and boutique fashion, while Rome became the capital of couture.
Throughout the 1960s, Italy became renowned as a country specializing in ‘casual elegance.’ However, the fierce rivalry between Florence and Rome left a meal ticket for Milan, which had already perfected a unique style but was in need of recognition. By the 1970s, Milan’s ready-to-wear collections rendered it the fashion capital of the world. American buyers soon began shifting their money towards Milan, boosting its economy dramatically.
Although no longer considered the nation’s foremost fashion city, Florence continues to play a leading role. The bi-annual Pitti Immagine trade shows bring thousands to the city to see what is new in fashion, while its reputation for artisan quality is fully present in the countless boutiques and proudly Florentine brands that create custom-made hats, garments, footwear and jewelry.