Maglifico! Flora and Fauna, open through July 24, 2014, in the stables of Rome’s Palazzo Ruspoli, offers a trip through the creative history of Italian knitwear curated by fashion journalist Federico Poletti and Modateca Deanna with funding by Woolmark. Architect Danilo Reale created a lush “jugle fever” scenography with green garden designer and writer Carlo Contsso for the show. Poletti reached into the archives of Modateca Deanna and others to cherry pick amazing knit pieces inspired by animal skins, flowers and other bits of wildlife. Beginning with Krizia, the Italian brand that launched a cult for animal sweaters in the late 70s/early 80s, designers including Roberto Cavalli, Cheap & Chic by Moschino, Laura Biagiotti, Valentino, Kenzo and many others have filled their fashion with flora and fauna inspirations in knits.
A hairy animal spot jumpsuit from Jean Paul Gaultier, a yeti style sweater by Fendi, a shaggy animal jacket from Maison Martin Margiela, 3-D flowers perched on the shoulder of a halter top by young Italian brand Leitmotiv, or a giant daisy growing up the front of a dress by Enrico Coveri are some of the outstanding pieces in the show, some which are shown here for the first time.
Behind every great designer is a creative army of talent, and usually at least one knit wizard. Knitwear, became extremely popular in fashion in the 1920s, pioneered by Coco Chanel and others, eager to offer women comfort. And the art of knitting, by hand or machine, has always been a specialty in Italy with ateliers large and small inventing new yarns, stitches and finishes to help designers eager to take knitwear to places it has never been before.
One of the most creative was Miss Deanna, run for over fifty years by the indefatigable Deanna Ferretti Veroni, a designer herself and knit technician who opened her first studio in the 1960s in a garage in northern Italy’s Reggio Emilia. Miss Deanna was the go to Italian knitwear factory for Margiela, Versace, Yamamoto and many others. Today Veroni and her daughter Sonia run Modateca Deanna, a knit archive open to students and fashion researchers with over 50,000 garments from Miss Deanna’s production, but also historic pieces going back decades.
Flora and Fauna was first shown in Milan at the Palazzo Morando and last February in Paris at the Premiere Vision fabric fair. Maglifico! is a new communication tool created by Federico Poletti to promote Italian knitwear intelligence via books, travelling exhibitions, installations and its website maglifico.com that will relaunch in September 2014. RV