Celebrating the 70th anniversary of Italy’s first fashion show in Florence’s Sala Bianca
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Celebrating the 70th anniversary of Italy’s first fashion show in Florence’s Sala Bianca

July 22 marks the 70th anniversary of Italy’s first fashion show, held in the Sala Bianca at Palazzo Pitti, in Florence.

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Fri 22 Jul 2022 2:12 PM

July 22 marks the 70th anniversary of Italy’s first fashion show, held in the Sala Bianca at Palazzo Pitti, in Florence.

Antonelli dress in the Boboli Gardens, shown on the runway in July 1952
Giovanni Battista Giorgini (left) with a buyer in the Boboli Gardens at the gala event on July 24, 1952. Photo Levi / © Archivio Foto Locchi

The historic event in 1952 was organized by Forte dei Marmi-born businessman Giovanni Battista Giorgini and the city’s most illustrious music and dance hall would go on to hold runway shows for another three decades. From seeking out exclusive locations to post-catwalk parties, such as a gala event in the Boboli Gardens, Giorgini defined the modern concept of lifestyle back in the Fifties. The show was attended by fashion professionals from all over the world, who were asked to wear Italian clothing for the occasion.

On the pages of the Los Angeles Times, top fashion journalist Fay Hammond wrote the following: “Only incomparable Florence could offer such a setting for a party. This beautiful city seems carved out of the ancient hills of Tuscany. It is a flower bowl edged in living obelisks of black-green cypresses and age-old olive trees. To brush aside a few centuries and view the patina of the Middle Ages of the Renaissance seemed a simple and natural thing here. And it was done, just like that, to transport a thousand guests to this fabulous fête… No royal entertainment had surpassed this unforgettable scene.”

“Florence became the cradle of Made in Italy thanks to Giovanni Battista Giorgini’s intuition. This is where a new concept of Italian style and fashion was born that is envied all over the world.
-Ferruccio Ferragamo

Buyers look at a dress in the Boboli Gardens during the gala event on July 24, 1952. Photo Levi / © Archivio Foto Locchi

Seventy years on, a press conference was held at Polimoda’s headquarters, Villa Favard, to celebrate the anniversary of the debut of Italian fashion at Palazzo Pitti. The president of Polimoda, Ferruccio Ferragamo; the president of Palazzo Feroni Finanziaria, Giovanna Gentile Ferragamo; the CEO of Pitti Immagine, Raffaello Napoleone; and the president of Archivio Giorgini, Neri Fadigati were all in attendance.

“It’s an honour for Polimoda to host the 70th anniversary celebrations of the first fashion show held in the Sala Bianca,” commented Ferruccio Ferragamo. “Florence became the cradle of Made in Italy thanks to Giovanni Battista Giorgini’s intuition. This is where a new concept of Italian style and fashion was born that is envied all over the world. What better place could there be to hold this anniversary than a forging of talent like this school. In a continuum of past, present and future, emerging talent and creativity remain to give a new boost to our sector, now as in the past.”

For the anniversary, the Archivio Giovanni Battista Giorgini della Moda Italiana, which manages the material stored in the Florence State Archive, has digitalized approximately 1,500 documents, including photographs, letters and programmes. A book about Giovanni Battista Giorgini and his impressive achievements will be published by Gruppo Editoriale in September.

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