Sunday, June 24, 2018

The Era of Fiorucci dawns in Venice

Era of Fiorucci at Ca' Pesaro - Photo: Cat Bauer
(Venice, Italy) If you were alive in the 1960s and 70s, you will remember when the world burst from black and white into color, with Swinging London as the headquarters of the cultural revolution. Almost overnight, the gloomy post-war world seemed to disappear, and a kaleidoscope of art and music bounced along the wavelengths. There were the Beatles and miniskirts, and pop stars and supermodels, and bright, bold, groovy fashions streamed straight into your living room with the amazing new technology: color TV.

And in Italy, there was Elio Fiorucci, who transported Swinging London to Milan, and then Manhattan, which exploded into a global phenomenon. 

Epoca Fiorucci at Ca' Pesaro - Photo: Cat Bauer
The Era of Fiorucci at Ca' Pesaro celebrates the man who injected pop and playfulness into a time in Italy that was dark with domestic terrorism. Born on June 10, 1935 in Milan, Elio Fiorucci was the son of a shoeshop owner. He started designing bright rubber boots and selling them in stores around Milan. In 1967, he took a trip to London, and the idea for his fashion empire was born. Fiorucci would go on to define the look for generations of young people, and basically created the concept store.

Fiorucci revolutionized the jean industry after he saw a woman emerge from the sea, wet jeans clinging to her body, at a party in Ibiza, Spain. He created stretch jeans, using Lycra to transform them into a sexy, seductive garment. The Fiorucci logo -- two cherubs "Made in Heaven" -- graced the derrieres of countless young women. Afghan coats, leopard prints and accessories in Day-Glo colors were classics of the brand. He invented gold lamé trousers and popularized the bikini, and believed everyone should have the freedom to express themselves.

In 1976, Fiorucci opened a global emporium on East 59th Street in New York, which became "the daytime Studio 54," attracting everyone who was anyone -- Elizabeth Taylor, Liza Minelli, David Bowie, Truman Capote, Jackie Onassis, Andy Warhol, Madonna -- as well as artists and designers of all stripes. The legendary Maripol was designing jewelry; the performance artist Joey Arias was the lead salesman. Fiorucci was rock 'n roll, sexy and playful. It was a haven for the cool kids of the world.  

Nally Bellati at Epoca Fiorucci press conference Ca' Pesaro - Photo: Cat Bauer
During the inauguration at Ca' Pesaro on Thursday, which was fittingly at the same time as the summer solstice, I had the opportunity to talk to Nally Bellati, Venice's own photojournalist, who worked with Fiorucci for ten years as a buyer/designer, starting back in 1968. Later, in 1978, encouraged by her husband, photographer Count Manfredi Bellati, Nally's first photographic works were social party portraits for Vogue Italia. Soon after, she scored her first feature for the men's fashion magazine, L’Uomo Vogue: portraits of famous men in their pajamas. She then went on to work with top fashion houses and design companies, and continues her passion today with her blog, Contessanally.

Nally Bellati at Epoca Fiorucci inauguration - Photo: Cat Bauer
Nally was there with Fiorucci in Milan in the beginning. She would accompany him on his shopping trips to Swinging London, her home town, and created some of the signature Fiorucci fashion statements. British born Nally had an English father and Italian mother, so she would translate for Fiorucci who didn't speak English, but communicated instead by instinct and intuition, the language of the heart.

"He was amazing! He was like a kid in a toy shop. We went to London and had no idea what we were doing. We were young and inexperienced. We bought everything retail, the clothes were so cheap, and stuffed them into those big military surplus sacks. Fiorucci had a friend who worked for Alitalia, and we shipped them back to Milan. Then he had them ironed out and put in the store for sale. He was fascinated by everything."

Epoca Fiorucci at Ca' Pesaro - Photo: Cat Bauer
The exhibition is chock full of hundreds of photographs, posters, clothes and fanciful objects, reconstructing the "market of ideas and things." Fiorucci's passion for art and contemporary architecture led to collaborations and inspirations with artists such as Keith Haring, Jean-Michel Basquiat and Andy Warhol, and architects like Sottsass, Mendini, Branzi and De Lucchi.


In addition, his passion for art and contemporary architecture led him to mix with architects such as Sottsass, Mendini, Branzi and De Lucchi, who, like him, were major innovators, or artists like Keith Haring, Jean-Michel Basquiat and Andy Warhol, from whom he did not request artworks but creative contributions in conceiving places, stories and events where the main role was played by the individual and his or her desires.

http://capesaro.visitmuve.it/en/mostre-en/mostre-in-corso-en/exhibition-epoca-fiorucci/2018/04/19713/the-exhibition-11/
In addition, his passion for art and contemporary architecture led him to mix with architects such as Sottsass, Mendini, Branzi and De Lucchi, who, like him, were major innovators, or artists like Keith Haring, Jean-Michel Basquiat and Andy Warhol, from whom he did not request artworks but creative contributions in conceiving places, stories and events where the main role was played by the individual and his or her desires.

http://capesaro.visitmuve.it/en/mostre-en/mostre-in-corso-en/exhibition-epoca-fiorucci/2018/04/19713/the-exhibition-11/
In addition, his passion for art and contemporary architecture led him to mix with architects such as Sottsass, Mendini, Branzi and De Lucchi, who, like him, were major innovators, or artists like Keith Haring, Jean-Michel Basquiat and Andy Warhol, from whom he did not request artworks but creative contributions in conceiving places, stories and events where the main role was played by the individual and his or her desires.

http://capesaro.visitmuve.it/en/mostre-en/mostre-in-corso-en/exhibition-epoca-fiorucci/2018/04/19713/the-exhibition-11
Elio Fiorucci died in 2015 at age 80, but his spirit lives on. Last year, on the 50th anniversary of the brand, longtime Fiorucci fans Stephen and Janie Schaffer announced they would resurrect the label, which has already inspired a whole new generation to wear two cherubs on their chest. So, who knows? Maybe the spirit of Fiorucci is the colorful revolution we need to once again brighten up the world.

Epoca Fiorucci opened to the public yesterday, June 23, at Ca' Pesaro, Venice's International Gallery of Modern Art and runs through January 6, 2019. Go to Ca' Pesaro for more information.

Ciao from Venezia,
Cat Bauer
Venetian Cat - The Venice Blog

1 comment:

  1. If you were alive in the 1960s and 70s, you will remember when the world burst from black and white into color, with Swinging London as the headquarters of the cultural revolution.

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