The Galleria Internazionale d’Arte Moderna at Ca’ Pesaro has opened its rooms to fashion for a second time, hosting a very special exhibition dedicated to the creative genius of Elio Fiorucci, the famous Milanese fashion designer who died in 2015, who was defined by many as the “champion of democratic fashion”.
After the highly refined “Culture Chanel. The reading woman” exhibition, dedicated to Coco Chanel, muse of Parisian haute couture, here, almost by contrast, the gallery proposes an exhibition investigating the “Fiorucci phenomenon”, namely a fashion available to all that revolutionised and interpreted the behaviour and habits of young generations from the late sixties to the beginning of the eighties.
A unique personality in this field, able to revolutionise fashion and the market, a lover of art and of contemporary architecture, Fiorucci was the first international “stylist” to commission great architects, graphic designers and designers like Sottsass, Mendini, Branzi, De Lucchi, amongst others, who were great innovators like him, and the likes of Keith Haring, Jean-Michel Basquiat, Andy Warhol, from whom he did not ask for “works” but creative contributions to create places, narratives, events. All of these he made responsible for representing and communicating his garments and clothing accessories, intended as an extension of individuals and their identity.
As Aldo Colonetti, curator of the exhibition, states in the catalogue “Fiorucci was a sort of Marcel Duchamp not only in fashion but, one could say, in his way of designing things, spaces, the relationship between the object and the person”. And as Fiorucci himself wrote, “to seek out new ideas and design, it is necessary to look at others, to go beyond appearances, to read between the lines of languages, not only of fashion, but above all of everyday life. Fashion for me means the different ways of living one’s body, one’s habits, so that each of us is able to be himself”.
Thus, illustrating the intellectual adventure of Elio Fiorucci means reconstructing an era, a revolution in costume – that of rock, of yé-yé girls, of flower children, of opposition to bourgeois taste – of which he was both an extraordinary interpreter and acute author, but it also means highlighting a whole network of bonds, relationships, unique experiences.
On display are all the ‘places’ of the Fiorucci universe, or better, of its ‘philosophy’: the first shop in Galleria Passarella in Milan, designed by Amalia Del Ponte, in 1967, and in 1976 the colourful store on 59th Avenue in New York, which became a meeting point for many young people. It was also visited by Andy Warhol, Truman Capote and a very young Madonna, who held her first concert in ‘83 at Studio 54 for the fifteenth anniversary of Fiorucci’s activity. In that same 1983, but in October, Keith Haring restyled the Milan store with his graffiti.
In the following year the American artist participated in the Venice Biennale and at the “Frontier Art” exhibition in Bologna. In addition to the shops – from Los Angeles to Rodeo Drive where he arrived at the peak of his success in the 1980s, and on to Tokyo, Sydney, Rio and Hong Kong – the exhibition touches on his lifelong friendship with Oliviero Toscani, with whom he overturned the canons of advertising, and his acquaintance with Vivienne Westwood. And more, from his famous motto “Everybody free”, to his transformation of jeans, which he made into a sexy and seductive garment thanks to a combination with Lycra; the invention of golden lamé trousers and the spread of the bikini; the use of latex for clothes and accessories and the creation of an entire collection using the innovative Tyvek paper fabric. This was a brand that focused not only on clothing but gradually spread to graphic design, communication, shop fitting, objects and Panini figurines, in a continuous creation of images, ironic celebrations and a subtle vein of provocation.
A trademark, in short, and a sure guarantee of success: Fiorucci!