Month: February 2014

Pitti Palace

Last week we took a visit to the Pitti Palace and analyzed the costume gallery. It was an eclectic view of the evolution of dress, particularly for women, culminated with a variety of textiles and organized with unique presentations.

Probably the most interesting aspect of this exhibition was it’s eclectic taste and variety of styles. I was surprised to see garments that spanned over several centuries, as well as an overlapping of styles that were used in different decades. Some of the textiles used include sequins, thread woven into fine embroidery, lace, and feathers. I especially appreciated the hat exhibit, which contained styles from the gorgeous to the outrageous. A small portion of the gallery also contained jewelry. I found it interesting that some of the jewelry had a harsher metallic look, giving an unexpected twist to the modern designs.

The last theme of the gallery that stood out to me was the diversity of women’s dress that was affected by female hierarchy. ¬†When we looked at some of the older garments from centuries ago, we discovered that women of status were dressed in restricting garments with many pieces, usually made of more valuable fabric. Women of that time with a lower status would wear a similar style, but simplified and more utilitarian depending on the type of work they had to do. In contrast, women of status in a more modern era had the freedom to rebel against the current, form-fitting style of clothing and opt for a more relaxed style or whatever style suited them.

It is needless to say that women played an incredible part in the fashion of the last few centuries, both in the women who designed clothes and the women who wore them. Women continue to evolve the face of fashion to this current day!

-Genevieve Gannon

Palazzo Pitti

The exhibit at the Pitti Palace was fascinating to see and learn about. Most fashion and costume exhibits I have been to are organised by designer. It was interesting to see fashion grouped by owner or donator, much like many art museums group art collections. Displaying the items in such a way communicates the view that fashion is indeed art.

My favourite part of the exhibit was seeing the remains of Eleonora di Toledo’s dress. It was fascinating to witness such a rare piece of Italian history, and nothing speaks to culture and history quite like fashion. We learned about the mistake Eleonora’s lady in waiting made on the very morning of her death. This simple mistake of dressing Eleonora with one stocking inside out played a large role in helping us understand the stitches and how the stockings were made. I also found it amazing that she attempted to reject the invention of mechanical knitwear because she was sensitive to its repercussions among women who earned money from knitting by hand.

Another part of the exhibit I found interesting was the collection involving Paul Poiret. The fact that he was one of the first to do international fashion shows and a fragrance connected to his brand is inspiring. I admire his creativity and savvy business mindset that caused many many others to follow his lead.

Overall, I really enjoyed the exhibit and was amazed at the beauty, detail, and care that went into constructing each and every garment. Each piece tells a story about the designer and the wearer, as well as the point in history in which it was made. We can learn so much about history through fashion, and I loved observing a few pieces that were significant to the evolution of today’s fashion industry.

-Rachel Weaver