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A Flash of Contemporary Italian Fashion on The High Line

Roberta Cutillo (May 17, 2019)
The Exhibition ‘Borders: A Flash of New Italian Fashion’ offers a glimpse into the exciting and perhaps unexpected world of young, contemporary Italian fashion, featuring pieces by 4 emerging designers presented amongst videos, DJ sets, and neon lights and set atop of New York’s High Line against the backdrop of the Hudson River.

‘Borders: A Flash of New Italian Fashion’ is part of a project by Italy’s National Chamber of Fashion titled CNMI Camera Club, aimed at promoting the contemporary face of Italian fashion. It was conceived by the Consulate General of Italy in New York, along with the Italian Trade Commission and the Italian Embassy in DC.

As you access the exhibition through the 16th street entrance of the High Line, a former elevated freight line turned public park; a symbol of requalification and creativity, you walk under an industrial “archway” of sorts, constructed out of metallic tubes. The title of the show flashes across a couple of LED display screens.

The exhibition is constructed like a path: two pairs of mannequins, one on each side, greet you as you enter the space. Their outfits belong to the collections of two of the four emerging brands presented there: Dorian Stefano Tarantini’s M1992 and Giorgio di Salvo’s United Standard.

It immediately becomes clear that you will be experiencing something different from what you might typically associate with Italian Fashion. These first two sets of mannequins sport casual mises, each heavily influenced by the urban landscape, albeit in unique ways.

Going forward, you come to the central part of the exhibition, a place where you can congregate and even sit down on one of the two long benches facing a large screen surrounded by other smaller monitors, three on each side. The main screen shows a video created by Francesco Petroni, shot in relatively unknown locations in Puglia.

It features extremely young actors/models, mostly teenagers, and communicates that sense of lightness and freedom, which can only be found in the summertime. The other clips were made by the designers themselves to present their collections: all of them very artsy and sometimes provocative, mostly with a general vintage feel, though each brand showcases its personal style and aesthetic.

You then get to the other two sets of mannequins, one pair wearing the designs of Mauro Simionato’s Vitelli Maglieria Italiana, and the other clad in Magliano by Luca Magliano. These can be considered more traditional in their tailoring perhaps, but stand out because of the bold colors, patterns and materials employed.

Particularly attractive is the piece from Magliano’s women's collection, which features a wide purple plaid menswear-inspired jacket (complete with pocket handkerchief) and a matching T-shirt over a pair of wide tailored black pants, also seemingly inspired by 1940s men’s dress pants but made out of leather.

The exhibition was curated by Creative Director Giangi Giordano, himself very young and based in Milan, like all of the designers. Giordano, who on the May 16th opening night was wearing a beautiful vintage Prada ensemble and intimidatingly high MiuMiu heels, explained that the idea was to present a different side of Italian Fashion, younger, more dynamic, more diverse, and more aware of and involved in the global scene.

“We wanted it to be just a glimpse, a flash,” he explains, “to show that the Milan fashion scene is dynamic, always changing, not something static.” And, in fact, the show will be on view on the High Line only through May 17, during which it will be open to all visitors.

These four designers were selected for this initiative because they best represent the younger Milanese Fashion scene, in which they are all quite well established. It’s an environment characterized by its connection to various aspects of urban life, including the club scene, (some of the designers are, in fact, DJs themselves) and the art scene.

As it is composed mostly of very young people, it’s also a very connected world: one that is very aware of current global issues and engages with them. Particularly, all four designers share a strong focus on sustainability, a central issue in the contemporary fashion world and beyond.

The opening night was hugely successful, the space was packed with a surprisingly diverse crowd: younger and older generations, New Yorkers and Italians, creatives and Institutions. The Italian Ambassador, Armando Varricchio was there, as well as the Consul General of Italy Francesco Genuardi and the director of the Italian Cultural Institute, Giorgio van Straten. The Director of the Italian Trade Agency, Maurizio Forte, and the President of the National Chamber of Fashion, Carlo Capasa, were also present.

In their speeches, they all emphasized the importance of teamwork and collaboration and of cultivating the already strong ties between Italy and the city of New York. And you can’t help but agree as you stand there on the High Line, a glass of Franciacorta in hand, savoring delicious treats by Il Gattopardo Restaurant Executive Chef Vito Gnazzo and admiring these beautiful and innovative Italian designs against the backdrop of the sun setting over the Hudson River.

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