“Eleganza italiana: 50 years of Made in Italy”

‘Eleganza Italiana: 50 Years of Made in Italy’
by Tiziana Ferrero-Regis

6:30 p.m. Friday, July 30th

at the
Dante Alighieri Cultural Centre

Tiziana Ferrero-Regis will speak (in English) about the birth of Made in Italy. From the couture dress by Sorelle Fontana, made for the wedding of Linda Christian to Tyrone Power in 1949, to the rise to success of Giorgio Armani and Gianni Versace, the talk traces the history of Italian ingenuity in dressmaking through the presentation of beautiful images.

Tiziana Ferrero-Regis worked for many years in Milan in the fashion publishing industry and is currently Lecturer in Theory and History of Fashion at the Queensland University of Technology, Creative Industries Faculty. Her research interests are in the areas of Made in Italy, the fashion industry, the relationship between film and fashion, and fashion and copyright.

Entry is free. The talk will be followed by refreshments.

RSVP: Wednesday 28th July 2010, Ph.3356 7731 , e-mail: danteb@bigpond.net.au

Advance Notice

The Brisbane Dante is organising a group booking for a guided tour, in Italian, of the ‘Valentino, Retrospective: Past/Present/Future’ at GoMA in October. Tiziana has very kindly agreed to be our guide to this major exhibition.

Eleganza Italiana – Castellano Memorial Lecture.doc

6 thoughts on ““Eleganza italiana: 50 years of Made in Italy”

  1. Hi Ian.

    Aren’t you glad that the artisans became redundant in order to become industrial workers and therefore achieve the capacity for class power?

    Are you romanticising the remnant of peasant consciousness?

    Seriously now, it is the transition from artisan to worker, from tools to machines, that according to Marx was a necessary and inevitable epoch in the unfolding emancipation of the masses.

    According to the Communist manifesto, the bourgoeise had brought into being the weapons of its own destruction in creating centralised industry. The faster the economy industrialises, the faster and bigger the working class grows.

    However, with over 100 years hindsight, we might conclude that the working class has been successfully contained within the capitalist mode by way of its continued and increasing individualisation, compartmentlisation and isolation within the technical evolution of workplaces and by global capitalism’s capacity to extrude enough surplus value from production to finance a global military machine to repress any organised attempt to destabilise the market place. Consumerism, including bourgeoise illusion such as elite fashion, also contains workers as flies stuck on fly paper. In which case we must also conclude that Marx was simply wrong and the midwives of history are those who can survive outside of industrial capitalism and not those whose very identity is defined by it.

    Back to Armani and co,

    Workers who drool over glamour products are just like Pavlov’s dog drooling over his masters bell.

  2. No illusion in hand-me-downs says:

    Hey John,

    Re: Bourgeois illusion?

    My mother and her generation of women made their own clothes.

    My mother, my aunty, granny and sisters, when they were old enough, made pants, pullovers, shirts before we were old enough to go to school. School uniforms were usually bought but endlessly modified for hand-me-downs or to allow for growth in childhood.

    In the end, my sisters learnt to sew enough to make their own clothes. These women even taught me rudimentry skills on the Singer sewing machine and with needle and thread — enough to repair tears and worn out socks.

    This generation of women were never regarded as artists even though my sisters & mother were good enough to make some pretty good dresses — nor was what they did even accorded the dignity of being called work — even though at nightime or on weekends they would be huddled over a borrowed table cutting patterns, pinning them to fabrics they had searched for in shops or cut up from old clothes or sheets & curtains, sewing endlessly and even dyeing in the old cement tub downstairs or the copper outside.

    All this happened before capitalism exploited cheap labour in India, China and elsewhere and making these artisans redundant.

    Ian

  3. This is not just about child or slave labour for that is as much (if not more) a factor in the cheap clothes at Target and Best-and-less that the non-glamorous people wear.

    The enormous difference between production cost and retail price in elite fashion means the entrepreneurs can afford to pay non-slave wages to workers (Proyect’s articles speaks of handbags made in China), in fact some use their anti-slavery policies as a marketing device.

    The bourgeois illusion is that a dressmaker to movie stars and royalty is more artistic than common dressmakers who can only aspire to the standard of high art set by the glamorous elite.

    The illusion is that tailors such as Armani make clothes that are worthy of a place in the Gugenheim museum but ordinary tailors art is only good enough to wear as clothes.

    And the illusion is simply in the economic capacity of the elite to afford the massive mark up from production cost to retail price on these pieces of high art that distinguishes the glamorous elite from ordinary people.

    It is the priveleged elite-ness that adds cost, and therefore profit, to glamour fashion and not any artistic capacity of the designers (or labour conditions).

    This capital profit of the process of elite fashion is dependent on mythology of designer superstars such as Fontana, Armani and Versace, a mythology which Tiziana, and WBT, are promoting.

    They should be identified, along with Warhol, as clever capitalist opportunists manipulating the art market – and notions of what is and is not art – rather than bastions of any ethnic or artistic tradition of honour.

    Forgive me for giving the lecture a miss.

    p.s.

    My purpose in providing a link to Proyect was to highlight the contradiction of workers media promoting bourgeois illusion, so I chose a perspective from your own ideological camp rather than from my own.

    I have a new ideological badge now – “anarcho-primitivism”. I don’t really like the word but the movement has some momentum in the USA and the name has already struck.

    An anarcho-primitivist perspective would argue that the alienation of industrial capitalist society is itself the basis of art and culture, not just in matters of content of art but of the relationships of art, in particular the alienation of the artist from the audience by way of the market’s central role in cultural production.

    The high fashion illusion (for example, the Italian design tradition) and its total seperation of designer super-star from either their market or the workers who produce their clothes – by way of economic stratafication – is the Zenith of alienated art in capitalist society.

  4. Bourgeois illusion? says:

    Hello John,

    You are right to pose the question: ‘Workers media promotes bourgeois illusion?’

    I am a little surprised that you, so critical of marxist theory, would point our readers to an analysis of the fashion industry by the unrepentant maxist who begins with:

    “When I was invited to a press screening of “Lagerfeld Confidential,” now playing at the Film Forum in New York, about six weeks ago, my first reaction was to decline the offer.

    What possible interest could the Unrepentant Marxist have in one of the world’s highest profile haute couture designers?”

    I ask in reply to your question: Is Workers Media permitted no room to explore contradiction?

    To explain…

    Recently I was speaking with a Human Resource Manager who works for Versace in London.

    Her London department design and retail the ‘Pink’ brand of shirts for men and employs about 240 people in this endeavour.

    I asked her where the shirts were made.

    She told me the shirts are made in Morocco, Vietnam, India and China.

    I asked her if child labour was used in making the shirts.

    She categorically denied this saying that Versace had iron clad contracts with their suppliers to ensure the best conditions for the workers who produced the shirts. She explained that this was the reason that the shirts cost so much.

    Regardless of whether child labour is involved, we all know how little textile workers in Morocco, China, India & Vietnam are paid.

    Taking another tack, I then asked her if she did a lot of travel in her job as a human resources manager and if so where did she travel to?

    She replied: Yes she did travel a lot, but only to Paris and New York.

    Or in the words of the unrepentant marxist who quotes the New York Times:

    When the museum [Metropolitan Museum of Art] held a show of Gianni Versace’s fashions, it was paid for in part by Conde Nast, publisher of fashion magazines like Vogue that depend on Versace for advertising.

    In capitalism, one hand must never know what the other hand is doing.

    Perhaps you would like to go to the lecture to see what Tiziana Ferrero-Regis has to say about bourgeois illusion in fashion?

    Ian Curr
    July 2010

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