A grand and glittering feast for the eyes was laid out on Sunday evening in the Sculpture Gallery of Victoria Memorial Hall, where a retrospective exhibition of 50 years of Italian Fashion left the invitees gaping at clothes elevated to the status of works of art.
Fantasy fused with celluloid chic in these creations actually worn or shown off by the likes of Audrey Hepburn (the ballerina shoes she sported in Roman Holiday), Anita Ekberg (her cassock dress in La Dolce Vita), Jacqueline Kennedy (her round evening bag designed by Princess Helietta Caracciolo) and Grace Kelly.
But with a dozen people all trying to ogle the same item at the same time, it was difficult to inspect the dresses, suits and accessories from close quarters.
The exhibition space is so cramped that all the clothes on display could not be shown off to advantage. Doesn’t this enormous mausoleum have a larger gallery' The omnipresent securitymen added to the crush.
A note of discord was sounded when Governor Viren J. Shah, in his inaugural speech, expressed his displeasure over the public being kept out of the Victoria Memorial grounds on a Sunday afternoon because US consul-general George N. Sibley was expected. But the Governor, who had been “misinformed” about the security measures, later publicly apologised for this.
Besides this solecism, it was a living lesson in Italian fashion. Each fabulous exhibit and its designer was accompanied by explanatory boards, complete with archive photographs, posters and drawings.
Reminding one of such legends as Schiaparelli and Nina Ricci, there are crinolines, dresses with bustles, and with handpainted panels inspired by Renaissance paintings.
Yes, the most expensive exhibit — the $ 300,000 Versace dress aglow with thousands of tiny Swarovski beads — is there for everybody to see. The upper half of the golden Krizia dress opens like the giant petals of a blossom. Armani is present in a blue/gold “Regimental” dinner jacket worn by Claudia Schiffer.
Among the accessories are handbags and luxury luggage from the likes of Gucci, Nazareno Gabrielli and Gherardini. From the 80s, Italy started producing pret-a-porter or the ready-to-wear lines of designers known for their haute couture. That is amply represented here.
Though the show organised by Fiorella Galgano and Alessia Tota is like a dream where one can touch the precious exhibits, one wonders what fate awaits them when the Hall reopens on Tuesday.