In the past 2 months, I visited 3 fashion-related exhibitions
2 museums belong to the Italian brands- Salvatore Ferragamo and Gucci, and 1 museum- Israel museum in Jerusalem
It wasn’t planned, it just happened (well, also, I really love fashion exhibitions). But following my visits, I got to think about what fashion is, why is it important and the part it plays in our lives and culture.
I think that fashion suffers from negative perception, or to be more accurate- fashion discussion suffers from negative perception and is considered superficial. If I start talking about Dolce & Gabanna's latest collection, it is more likely that people around me will change the subject (read: silence me), than if I were to talk about the latest iPhone or the next iPhone. And I am trying to understand the difference- both are consumer products, both are released on a (practically) weekly basis, both used as status symbols, and we use both on a daily basis (and correct me if I’m wrong, but I think most people have more clothes than iPhones)
So why is fashion superficial and cellular phones are not? Or sports? I have tons of admirations to professional athletes, we can discuss their efforts, talent, the sacrifice they make, determination, willpower. And we can discuss how much money they make or the latest campaign they were given. And just like in fashion, if we discuss only the money in sports, or how many mega-pixel the latest iPhone camera has (And just to be clear, I don’t have iPhone, just using it as example), we will totally miss the real work that was put in to create the final product.
The exhibitions I visited represent different aspects in fashion, in each one you can find a different layer to fashion, or the way that fashion influences and is influenced by culture
I will start with the museum I liked less. The museum was renovated about a year ago and the concept has changed. Luckily, I had the opportunity to visit the museum in its former version and I must admit I liked it better…
In the current version, there are several rooms with exhibits items from Gucci’s archive, new items alongside items from the first days of the fashion house, almost 100 years ago.
One item that caught my eye was a white embroidered silk dress, I always go as close as I can to look at the amazing embroidery work. In fashion houses like Gucci, the embroidery is hand-made in many cases. To me, it is art just like any of the drawings presented in the nearby Uffizi museum.
Salvatore Ferragamo is an Italian fashion house established around 100 years ago, at the beginning specializing in shoes and over the years expanded to clothes and other accessories. Similar to Gucci, the Ferragamo museum underwent renovations in this past year, in the former version of the museum, the shoes and the early years of the house were the focus, and it was perfect! The creativity was (still is) inspirational, bus as I wrote the theme has changed.
The current exhibition is a great example of how Fashion can be an integral part of culture and history, the current theme is “Italy in Hollywood”. Salvatore Ferragamo immigrated from Italy to Hollywood and was considered as the shoe designer of all the Hollywood stars at the beginning of the 20th century. This transition was the inspiration for the whole exhibition, that focuses on the Italian presence in California at the time. Beginning with the Italian pavilion in the Panama-Pacific Expo in San Francisco in 1915, through the presence of Italian actors in Hollywood and their influence on the film industry then and today.
The Beautiful Italian Singer and Actress Lina Cavalieri. Her face is also captured on Fornasetti items.
And, of course, you can’t miss the shoes designed by Ferragamo to Hollywood's biggest stars
“Fashion Statements” Israel Museum
The last exhibition I visited is a bit closer, in the Israel Museum in Jerusalem.
It is another great example of how fashion is affected by local culture and how it affects in return. The exhibition reviews the various styles that developed in Israel over the years and presents beautiful examples of this fascinating mix of cultures that was created here.
The Yemeni Embroidery has an important part in Israel's Fashion History
Through fashion, you can learn about the social, economic and cultural developments. The exhibition starts with reviewing the cultures that functioned as the building blocks of Israeli fashion and society, continues with displaying the tension that was created by trying to build a socialist society, and the influence of European high fashion.
You don’t want to miss the videos presenting the textile industry in the 60’s-70’s, it’s amazing to see how everything changed but still remains the same.
And finally, a display of some of our most talented designers, currently working in Israel (and overseas)
So, to summarise my experience, if you're interested in culture and society, fashion exhibition is a great place to start at, it can give you another perspective that we so often tend to miss or disregard.