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Sfilata in Sala Bianca, scattata per l’organizzazione da Giovanni Maria Fadigati nel luglio del 1955 (da Archivio Giorgini)
July 22, 2022

70 years since the first Italian Fashion Show in the Sala Bianca

Polimoda celebrates the anniversary of the event that on 22 July 1952 was signed by Giovanni Battista Giorgini, a legendary figure soon to be recounted in a book

A press conference to celebrate the 70th anniversary of the debut of Italian Fashion on the catwalk of the Sala Bianca in Palazzo Pitti was held at Polimoda 1. A promoter of young talents and guardian of the history of fashion, Polimoda commemorated the important anniversary with a conference held by the President of Polimoda, Ferruccio Ferragamo, the President of Palazzo Feroni Finanziaria, Giovanna Gentile Ferragamo, the CEO of Pitti Immagine, Raffaello Napoleone, and the President of the Giorgini Archives, Neri Fadigati.

Giardini di Boboli, Giovanni Battista Giorgini (a sinistra) con un compratore al ballo di chiusura delle sfilate, 24 luglio 1952 (da Archivio Foto Locchi)

On 22 July 1952, Italian Fashion paraded for the first time in the Sala Bianca, a historic event that bore the signature of Giovanni Battista Giorgini; the city's most prestigious music and ballroom would from then on host fashion shows for over thirty years. In this sophisticated and festive context that combined research and entertainment, Giorgini proposed an all-round approach to fashion for the first time. From location research to post-show events, such as the Gala Ball in the enchanting Boboli Gardens: in 1952 Giorgini defined the modern lifestyle concept.

To mark the anniversary, the Giovanni Battista Giorgini Archive of Italian Fashion, an organisation that manages the materials deposited at the Florence State Archives, has digitised in high definition a selection of around 1,500 documents, including photographs, letters, invitations, programmes and press materials. This is the largest existing collection on the export of artistic craftsmanship and the birth of Italian Fashion from the 1920s to the 1960s.

Starting from this immense work by Giovanni Battista Giorgini, Polimoda and Gruppo Editoriale have joined forces and worked together to produce a book that will be presented next September. The book, the only one of its kind, recounts for the first time the complex and articulated figure of Giorgini: from his beginnings in the export world in 1922 to 1965, the year of his exit from the fashion shows at the Sala Bianca, an era dominated by a joyful and dynamic spirit spent in the promotion and support of Made in Italy and young creative talents. An editorial commitment made possible thanks to the first complete study of all the materials that make up the Giorgini Archive (which for the occasion has been made accessible in every part by its President, Neri Fadigati) conducted by authoritative academics and experts in the history of fashion.

Giardini di Boboli, compratori esaminano un abito al ballo di chiusura delle sfilate il 24 luglio 1952 (da Archivio Foto Locchi)

In 1954, the CFMI, Centro di Firenze per la Moda Italiana (Florence Centre for Italian Fashion) was founded, chaired by Mario Vannini Parenti and, from that same year, frescoes and mirrors in the Sala Bianca saw the debut of Cesare Guidi, Irene Galitzine, De Barentzen, Sarli, De Luca, Lancetti, Ken Scott, Balestra, Krizia, Biki, Ferragamo, Valentino, Armani and many others.

Playful and functional, the 'new' Italian fashion was not merely based on the aesthetic component, but also and above all on an extensive baggage of values, which is why Giovanni Battista Giorgini was constantly on the lookout for new designers who would express ideals and social changes through clothes. A mission that still finds its legacy today in the Pitti events that dedicate ample space to the discovery of emerging talents. A philosophy shared by Polimoda, the world-renowned centre of higher education for the fashion industry, which welcomes students from over 70 countries, creating a meeting point between cultures and ideals that shape the future of fashion.

Giardini di Boboli, abito Antonelli presentato alle sfilate del luglio 1952 (da Archivio Giorgini)

"Florence was the cradle of Made in Italy thanks to the intuition of Giovanni Battista Giorgini, a new concept of fashion and that Italian style that the world envies us was born here. What better place to welcome this anniversary than a hothouse of talent like this school? In a continuum between past, present and future, it is the emerging talent and creativity that gives new impetus to our industry, today as then. I thank Pitti Immagine and the Giorgini Archives for giving us this opportunity,' said Polimoda President Ferruccio Ferragamo.


In this article we talked about Palazzo Pitti

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