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Fashion in Florence through the lens of Archivio Foto Locchi

One of Florence’s leading photography archives opens its treasures to the city with the first single-subject exhibition

On 9 January 2017, Fashion in Florence through the lens of Archivio Foto Locchi will open
in Palazzo Pitti’s Andito degli Angiolini: 100 very rare pictures taken from the 1930s
to ‘70s tell the story of fashion in Florence through the lens of the photographers of
Foto Locchi.
The project stems from a collaboration between Archivio Storico Foto Locchi (a
cultural patrimony of priceless value comprising more than five million photographs),
director of the Uffizi Galleries Eike Schmidt, the Centro di Firenze per la Moda Italiana
– thanks to which the exhibition will be inaugurated with an event during the 91st edition of
Pitti Immagine Uomo – and the Gruppo Editoriale publishing group, with the intention
of promoting the importance of the photography archive and paying tribute to the
historic connection between Florence and fashion.

Eike D. Schmidt, director of the Uffizi Gallery: “Today, as the inevitable abstraction of
objects and concrete spaces in the digital world creates an unprecedented search for
authentic masterpieces and unique places, Florence has the chance to revitalise its
specific role as a key player in the textile and apparel industries, which essentially date
back to the Renaissance”.

Andrea Cavicchi, president of the Centro di Firenze per la Moda Italiana: “The Archivio
storico Foto Locchi is the most authentic testament to the birth and success of Made
in Italy in the world. Without this documentary heritage, the city of Florence would
be poorer. So would the institution I chair, the Centro di Firenze per la Moda Italiana,
championed by farsighted public officials who understood, even in 1954, just how
important and vital the textile-apparel sector, the leather industry and the creativity of
our artisanal products could be—in terms of work, turnover and employment”.

Erika Ghilardi, Archivio Foto Locchi: “This monographic exhibition, the first by the
Archivio storico Foto Locchi, held in the halls of the old-guard Palazzo Pitti royals, and
its opening during Pitti Uomo 91, is the source of my great pride and sincere excitement
for myself and my family. The fashion section is one of the prevalent, important themes
in the Archive—an archive whose cultural and visual heritage includes more than 5
million images telling the story of Florence over the last century”.


The artisan workshops: That set of workshops dedicated to high craftsmanship since
the Middle Ages, which in the twentieth century contributed to the creation of some
of the best-known Italian high fashion labels in the world. Already in the Twenties, the
legend of Florentine craftsmanship had arrived in the United States: wealthy American
heiress turned to Florence to buy up embroidered lingerie, silverware, exquisitely
worked leather and straw hats. Emblematic in this context was Salvatore Ferragamo’s
decision to settle in Florence after 13 years of success in America. He chose Florence
for its beauty as well as to delve into the depths of the specialized crafts that would
allow the shoemaker to achieve his goals of excellence.

Fashion in Florence: from the earliest events after World War II to the legendary shows
in Palazzo Pitti’s Sala Bianca (1952-1982), the origins of modern fashion in Florence are
thanks to the courage of a man who was as courteous as he was severe, a connoisseur
of the American market, Giovanni Battista Giorgini, who had made a name for himself
in New York as a buyer capable of turning dreams into reality. If Giorgini was the father
of Italian fashion, then Florence at that time was the cradle of beauty and charm, of
a new style that emanated from the Florentine and international entourage that had
formed around the newly born fashion system, as seen in the photography of those days
taken by Foto Locchi reporters not only of the catwalks in the Sala Bianca, but also in
the private palazzos and historic gardens with their gala dinners, parties and exclusive

The fashion celebrities: The Florentine maisons that birthed the modern history of
Italian fashion such as Gucci, Salvatore Ferragamo and Emilio Pucci told by their
founders and the celebrities who made them fashion around the world. The deus
ex machina of the great Italian designers who showed their collections in the Sala
Bianca: Roberto Capucci, Emilio Schuberth, Sorelle Fontana and Simonetta Colonna
di Cesarò. Celebrities who had no qualms about taking a chance alongside Giovanni
Battista Giorgini and who revolutionized modern Italian clothing starting in Florence.
In addition to the special guests who flew in from Paris, like Christian Dior and Elsa
Schiaparelli, the foreign aristocracy such as the Duke of Windsor and fated Hollywood
stars, from Audrey Hepburn to Paulette Goddard and the divine Maria Callas.

Perusing the immense Archivio and annual agendas, written up daily by photo
reporters from the Foto Locchi bottega, brings a constant stream of new discoveries.
One example among many, which emerged during the research carried out for this
exhibition, is the note dated 6 June 1948, indicating that that evening in the Sala
Bianca, a “Gala Evening with Presentation of Models” (film rolls 568 and 569 from
1948). It was, then, a “preliminary” event to the noted fashion shows held regularly in
Palazzo Pitti since 22 July 1952.

Accompanying the show is the catalogue published by Gruppo Editoriale featuring the
100 rare pictures on display in the exhibition and contextualized with articles written
by Caterina Chiarelli, Eva Desiderio and Stefania Ricci, in addition to an introduction by
Eike Schmidt, Andrea Cavicchi and Erika Ghilardi.

The exhibition has been made possible thanks to Fondazione Cassa di Risparmio di
Firenze, Publiacqua, Toscana Aeroporti, and with the support of Dr. Vranjes, Edra
and Caffè Gilli dal 1733 Firenze.

Palazzo Pitti, Andito degli Angiolini, Piazza de’ Pitti 1, 50125 Florence
From 9 January to 5 March 2017
Tuesday to Sunday, 8.45am-6.50pm




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