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G.B. Giorgini and the origins of Made in Italy

text Neri Fadigati

January 11, 2023

G.B. Giorgini and the Origins of Made in Italy, the book that tells the birth of Made in Italy

The story of Giovanni Battista Giorgini, father of Italian fashion, and of a dream come true

Only few men are lucky enough to understand at a young age what their purpose in life is; they are special men. Giovanni Battista Giorgini was one of them. The new book G.B. Giorgini and the Origins of Made in Italy (available for purchase HERE) is dedicated to him, to his extraordinary life and to the birth of Italian fashion. A coffee table book published by Gruppo Editoriale in collaboration with Polimoda which contains data and material from the Archivio Giorgini. Its pages present a multi-voiced story narrated by journalists and international experts, alternating with very interesting photos of the time and unpublished documents which reveal how he became the ‘Ambassador of the Made in Italy style’ first and the ‘father of Italian fashion’ later; also, many interesting facts about the legendary fashion show of February 1951 at Villa Torrigiani - which was supposed to be organised in New York - and the beginning of the sensational fashion shows in the Sala Bianca of Pitti Palace.

G.B. Giorgini and the Origins of Made in Italy, edito da Gruppo Editoriale

A volume aimed not only at enthusiasts who want to learn everything about an important part of Italian history, but especially to fashion students and young designers. Thanks to the attentive research conducted by Polimoda onto the Archivio Giorgini. In these pages they will be able to find the historic garments that have made Italian fashion great, and items which are still very modern today. Signed by renowned designers such as Simonetta, Schuberth, Fontana, Marucelli, Veneziani, Fabiani, Galitzine, Emilio Pucci, Roberto Capucci, Valentino and many others.

Alcune immagini dal libro G.B. Giorgini and the origins of Made in Italy, Fabiani (1957 - ph. R. Relang)Alcune immagini dal libro G.B. Giorgini and the origins of Made in Italy, Schuberth (1956)

In his genial intuition, Giorgini was also helped by his family and above all by the investiture received when he was only eight by his uncle who shared his same name and told him, “Bista, you carry my name, be worthy of it”. The task was certainly not easy, since he also held the title of ‘Father of the Homeland’ as he wrote the law about the unification of Italy ratified on March 17, 1861.

Alcune immagini dal libro G.B. Giorgini and the origins of Made in Italy, Valentino (1963)

And so it was that Bista - they also shared the same nickname - got the idea in his head that his purpose would be to do good for Italy. He was born in 1898 in Forte dei Marmi, but after the untimely death of his father and losing the possibility to pursue a diplomatic career, he decided to move to Florence. In this city of art, crafts and commerce, he opened an export office. It was the early 1920s. Bista created a sample of the best local craft products: Murano glass, Capodimonte figurines, ceramics of Bassano and Faenza, straw, silver, Florentine leather items, packed all of them into several chests, and left.

giorgini

For 20 years, the Giorgini buying office supplied the major American and Canadian stores and other international stores. In autumn 1944, the Allied Forces Command entrusted him with the task of opening a gift shop reserved for members of the military. He rented a large space and set up some stands where artisans could work at their craft and put the finished product on display. Eventually, he decided that it was also time to promote Italian clothing; taking away the monopoly in this sector from the French. Paris still had a lot of appeal overseas, but its fashion was too elaborate, pompous, and above all expensive. Store owners jumped at the opportunity to acquire simple, practical clothes that could help them to fill their department stores, very popular among young women who alternated their busy life between work and family. Even though the first fashion event that he was going to organise at the Brooklyn Museum was cancelled, Bista did not let this demoralise him. He started travelling again, this time to find and select the best tailoring brands. Some such as Pucci and Simonetta had already gained popularity thanks to articles published in Harper’s Bazaar and Vogue, two fashion magazines. Others such as the Fontana sisters and Ferragamo for designing dresses or shoes for Hollywood divas. And eventually there was the famous first Italian haute couture fashion show organised by Giorgini in his home in February 1951. But this is a well-known story, just like the repercussions of that event are still clearly visible. In the 1980s, thanks to great designers such as Armani, Versace and many others, Italy became a leading country in the world of fashion, so much so that the Made in Italy style became a recognised brand, still imitated, envied and sought after all over the world.

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