Lucia Floriana Savi

Research Group: Visual & Material Culture Research Centre
Award studied: PhD

Project title

Italy's Textile Production and its Influence on the Ready-to-Wear System and its Aesthetics 1945-1985


This research project investigates Italy's transition from a country of dressmakers, tailors and small-scale couturiers to a major producer of designer ready-to-wear in the post-war period, through an emphasis on exploring the role played by the Italian textile industry in this transformation. The project analyses social, economic and cultural changes from Italy's first internationally attended fashion show in 1951, organised by Giovanni Battista Giorgini, to Time magazine's Giorgio Armani April 1982 cover story, which signalled not just the fashion designer's international arrival, but that of Italian ready-to-wear more broadly.

My PhD is the first project to analyse how Italy's textile industry was a pivotal factor in determining a shift from production of handmade garments to designer mass-produced garments. The project aims to observe the phenomenon of the post-war Italian fashion system with a different lens. My new contribution is the use of a distinctive point of view through observing the foundational materials of fashion, that is, textiles and their fibres. My main method is an object-based analysis starting from within the garment. This 'inside-out' approach aims to assess the intrinsic material of fashion in terms of its quality, innovation in design, type (natural, artificial, man-made fibres), production techniques and their impact on the country's overall fashion and design aesthetic. As such, my research addresses a key gap in the histories of Italian textiles, design and fashion. While extensive scholarship has focused on defining Italian fashion style, its history, or reconstructing the relationship with America, existing scholarship has not made a direct link between Italy's textile production and the country's rapid evolution as a producer of "iconic" and high quality ready-to-wear. The importance of the material employed in making Italian fashion has been often quoted as a very significant characteristic of the country aesthetic, but its impact has not been yet critically assessed. My research aims to address this gap and to contribute a new approach to the object-based study, by reversing the attention from the outside (style and composition) to the inside (materials and production) and by uniting the usually separated studies of fashion and textile history.


Related links


Fashion Through History, La Sapienza University, Rome, 2015
'Italian Fashion in the Pages of British Vogue, 1945–1955'

Textual Fashion, University of Brighton, 2015
'Italian Fashion in the Pages of British Vogue, 1945–1955'

Rayne Shoes for Stars Study Day at the Fashion and Textile Museum, London, 2015
'The Rayne Archive at the V&A'

Italy & the Language of Fashion, workshop organised on the occasion of the Italian Presidency at the Council of the European Union, Europe House, London, 2014
'Behind the Scene'

'Dress & Politics', ICOM Costume Committee Meeting, Nafplio and Athens, 2014
'Italy’s Autarky – Fashion and Textiles during the Fascist Regime'

Moda, Arte Storia e Società. Omaggio a Grazietta Butazzi, Conference organised by the Fondazione Antonio Ratti, Como, 2014
'La Moda Italiana, tra passato e futuro, metodologie a confronto'

Fashion and Creativity Summer School, University of Bologna (invited speaker), 2014
'The Glamour of Italian Fashion 1945–2014. Il Made in Italy al V&A'

The Business of Fashion Italian Style, Symposium organised by The Enterprise of Culture, University of Leeds, Victoria and Albert Museum, London, 2014
'The Italian textile firm Nattier'

Il Maxxi incontra la Moda, Symposium organised by MAXXI Museum, Rome, 2013
'Research in the V&A’s Exhibitions'

Funding received

Kingston University Scholarship (AHRC)

ART FUND Jonathan Ruffer Grant

ICOM UK Travel Bursary

European Union Scholarship, Socrates Erasmus Programme

University Statale Milan Scholarship

University Statale Milan Scholarship

Lucia Floriana Savi