Women in the Spotlight in the Twentieth Century

Women in the Spotlight in the Twentieth Century

The Costume Gallery of Florence is one of the most eclettic museums of Florence and it is housed inside the 18th-century Palazzina della Meridiana, a wing of the Pitti Palace overlooking the Boboli Gardens. The collection gathers about six thousand works including garments dating back from the 16th to the 20th centuries, theatre costumes and accessories as shoes, jewels, bags, hats and ties. Thanks to private donations and State acquisitions the Gallery has become one of the most important museums of fashion history in the world. Original garments of the Costume Gallery cannot be on display for more than two/three years for conservative reasons. The museum therefore hosts a two-year setting, which tries to display as many works as possible, covering a large time frame.

The Costume Gallery is now celebrating its 30th anniversary with a new exhibition dedicated to the “Women in the Spotlight in the Twentieth Century“. Each room introduces an important woman whose personality emerges from the garments she has worn, created or collected throughout her life. The present museum seting features gowns, long capes, shoes, bijoux formerly belonging to well-known 19hundreds journalists, writers, singers and actresses sharing the same passion: fashion.

The first room is dedicated to Rosa Angela Caterina Genoni (1867-1954), an activist committed to the rights claim against the exploitation of female labor, also considered as the “founder of Italian fashion”. As director and teacher of the Tailoring section of the Humanitarian Female School she was inspired by Botticelli’s, Ghirlandaio’s, Pisanello’s and Raphael’s works leading to the creation of 14 garments in 1906. In this section there are two of those 14 masterpieces: the Pisanello court cape and the Botticelli evening gown decorated by refined three-dimensional embroidery.

Not to be missed is the section dedicated to Cecilia Matteucci Lavarini, one of the greatest Italian fashion collectors, spectator at catwalks, fashion shows, art or fashion auctions, exhibition openings, art fairs, theatre and music performances worldwide. Thanks to her endless wardrobe she showed a very personal and avant-guard style. “Fashion represents curiosity, knowledge of past and present. My costumes collection is my self-portrait, a solitary full time job which is uniquely thought for a fìnale destinatin: a Museum”. With her testament she is going to donate about 3000 pieces of French haute couture to the Costume Gallery. The twelfth room is dedicated to Anna Rontani, Italian writer and journalist between the 50s and 70s, whose large wardrobe was sold at an auction in Florence last year. The clothes selection ends with the rooms dedicated to the wedding dresses of the twentieth century, from the 10s up to the 80s with a gown by Oleg Cassini