Capucci's fashion sculptures bewitch in Venice

Thu, 03/26/2009 - 05:16

A selection of Roberto Capucci's legendary 'fabric sculptures' have gone on display in Venice, exploring three decades of change in the fashion maestro's creations.

The 30 works of art, created between 1978 and 2009, map the development in Capucci's work, starting with Ventaglio, the brilliant red creation that was the first in his series of 'fan' dresses.

The exhibition then moves into his designs from the 1980s, replete with panel inserts, flower forms, boxes and tubular designs.

His stunning Donna Gioiello is from this period, a black, white and red taffeta extravaganza created in 1984, inspired by the Doge and the Carnival of Venice.

Among his more recent creations, the exhibition features 'Sposa In Rosso', a two-tone wedding dress with golden embroidery on public display for the first time.

The exhibition also draws out Capucci's various sources of inspiration from the natural world.

His green, white and blue spiralling Onda dress with its flash of red, reflects his fascination with the water, while Foglie (Leaves), a brown velvet creation with a dazzling collar of sculpted red, yellow and orange leaves looks to the world of plants.

From the time of his earliest creations, Capucci's origami-like designs have been closer to elaborate works of sculpture than clothing.

He has dressed film stars, first ladies and royalty over the decades but the wearers have usually showcased his designs rather than the other way round.

Marilyn Monroe, Jacqueline Kennedy, Gloria Swanson and Italian scientist Rita Levi Montalcini have all worn his designs on important occasions, the latter when she collected her Nobel prize in medicine in 1986.

Capucci has cheerfully admitted that his works are not intended as everyday contributions to women's wardrobes. ''Frankly, I have never let myself be influenced by the

idea of 'but when will I wear this, where will I go?','' he once remarked.

''There would be no history of fashion if people had thought like that in past centuries''.

Capucci was considered something of a wunderkind in the fashion world, breaking onto the international scene at the age of just 21.

He had already opened an atelier on Rome's Via Sistina the previous year, in 1950, when his work was spotted by fashion entrepreneur Giovan Battista Giorgini, who invited him to display five designs at a Florence show.

The other designers in the show demanded Capucci's elaborate creations be withdrawn, fearing their own work would be upstaged.

But when the press found out, they called for a separate showing of Capucci's designs, which were greeted with instant acclaim.

Since then, Capucci's creations have appeared in galleries in Munich, London, Vienna, New York and various Italian cities, and now have their own museum in Florence.

The Venice exhibition is open in Palazzo Fortuny until May 5.

Topic: Fashion