By: Samantha Lane
When most people think of Italian fashion their mind goes straight to the well-known fashion capital of Milan. The city with all the celebrity fashion weeks and showcases. In reality, Milan was not always the fashion capital of Italy, it actually all started in the beautiful renaissance city of Florence. I have been lucky enough this semester to actually study abroad in such a historical place. Being immersed in the Florentine culture you can really get a sense of the fashion history here. Florence was actually the place where the first ever fashion show was held, hosted by Giovani Batista Giorgini in his huge palace. The show was held in the famous Sala Bianca, ‘white room’ which has rows of beautiful chandeliers and gorgeous detailing on the walls. The palace is now a part of fashion history and if you receive a chance to visit Florence you can go in the palace, see the Sala Bianca which held the first fashion show and also see an entire fashion exhibit which changes every 6 months and trust me, it is worth it. This first fashion show was really when the “Made in Italy” phenomenon was born back in 1951.
Many Italian fashion brands either began in Florence or decided to move themselves to Florence for its never ending inspiration and resources. Some of these brands include Pucci, Gucci, Ferragamo and many more who are connected to Florence in some way. Emilio Pucci first started the term “casual elegance” in Florence which spread out worldwide. Guccio Gucci designed in Florence the famous double G that we now all think of when we think of the brand. Salvatore Ferragamo, the shoemaker of the stars, actually has his headquarters still located in Florence where it all began. So Florence has really been able to shape these Italian brands and create many prestigious companies. The reason for this because when you are in the city of Florence, you can actually feel the heritage. Florence still has its renaissance background wherever you look and this helps Italian fashion brands remember where they came from so they can keep the heritage in their designs. Even some of the street signs still are represented by textiles like Via Calimala which means fine wool, and Corso dei Tintori which is dyers avenue. As I walk around the city everyday I notice the high quality products that Italy has to offer, whether it’s the big fashion brands, the many vintage stores, or just walking through the famous leather street markets; there is quality everywhere.
Florence also has some of the best craftsmen and artisans in the entire world. The work they do is so specific and takes years to master. This is really what gives the importance of the “Made in Italy” label because you know if you see that, the product is of high quality and someone took a lot of time and patience to produce it with care. I got to spend the day with a craftsman who produces decorative metal detailing for Cartier and Dior, which he has been doing since the young age of 8. Florence is also the main home of the most high quality leather goods which is so lucrative because leather will never go out of style. They are able to make anything from handbags, to shoes, to jackets. A lot of French fashion brands will outsource factories to the Tuscany area just so they can get their hands on these types of materials along with the best craftsmen to make their product.
Without the help of Florentine fashion we would not have such beautiful creations in our industry today. Back in the day these heritage filled creations were worn by the biggest stars during the time including, Marilyn Monroe, Jacki Kennedy, and even The Beatles. Today, even though the capital of fashion has moved to Milan, many of its roots still lie in Florence. If you ever get a chance to visit Florence, it will not disappoint, this city has changed my outlook on fashion as a whole. Its influence will continue to be seen in future designs because we all know to move forward with creativity you must always remember where you first started.
FSU's Premiere Fashion Magazine