Today is very very quiet, even for a Sunday. We have closed for the annual cleaning. It has been this way from the beginning 22 years ago. I have my own way to keep it always fresh and ready for new ideas…we empty everything, the store, the gallery,
the café, and clean and paint… it is a reboot, like a new beginning.
This also gives me time for thinking; about the present, the future, and sometimes the past. Today, I happened to find old issues of Cherie Moda where I had my first job in fashion. It was a group of magazines from Haute Couture to children’s knitwear to patterns, where I started in ‘68, and where I also read all books about fashion and dressmakers. When Ms Genoni was my point of reference for pattern books.
Rosa Genoni is a pioneer of Italian Fashion, the first who wanted to try to give
Italian fashion its own identity. She was a teacher of the history of Fashion and Costumes, and she worked to assert a “puro stile italiano”, a pure Italian Style. Magazines already in 1907 named her “inventor of Italian Fashion” . She encouraged Italian fashion houses to stop producing clothes copied from the Parisian ateliers, where she had trained to become a qualified seamstress, and create an Italian identity.
At the Milan Universal Expo in 1906, where fine arts were displayed together with the latest industrial products, and foreign countries like China, Japan, and the
United States had pavillions, Rosa Genoni showed magnificent artisan made couture clothing inspired by Pisanello and the Renaissance. It was the first time an Italian original line of fashion had ever been presented to such a wide public.
Inspired by Rosa Geroni, I believe Giuseppe Visconti di Modrone, the owner of an internationally known fabric company, sponsored a committee for the “moda di pura arte italiana” together with Franca Florio in 1909. Franca Florio
(here in a painting) was from Palermo, a legendary teacher of elegance, whose taste in choosing clothes and jewelry was well known throughout Europe.
They all believed in promoting Italian Fashion and making it a strong and unique statement, independent of Paris.
In the book by Rosa Genoni, volume 1 – on the history of fashion – there are very interesting patterns. My favorite from the beginning of my fashion years, was the pattern for the statue at the Louvre of the winged Victory of Samothrace, not only for the magnificent shapes, but the sculpted body clearly looks like it has a real dress on. Rosa Geroni wrote that this was the only dress pattern she made from a statue, and she managed to get this perfect wearable shape. I didn’t know then that one day I would see patterns by Vionnet! Talk about the perfect wearable shape.
In her book “Vionnet”, Betty Kirke actually recreated a series of patterns to explain the amazingly unique work of Madeleine Vionnet. Thanks to Ms Kirke we are able to understand the greatness of Vionnet. Apparently she is writing a new book about Vionnet’s draping technique that will also include a DVD…something really to look forward to, and learn more from.
During my one year – and three and half issues – at Elle, in each issue I thought it important to show a pattern. For the three issues I was able to include, I did collaborations with Jean Paul Gaultier, Christian Lacroix, and Azzedine Alaia.
I had forgotten about this until recently when I started to notice this sweater inspiring many of the latest runway collections. This is the 1987 December issue of Elle.