Florence’s Fashion Renaissance
Move over, Milan. The Renaissance city is where style and culture are converging in Italy today.
Around the world, fashion and art have become increasingly and irrevocably intertwined. Witness the plethora of museum exhibitions devoted to designers; the myriad collaborations between fashion houses and art studios (Jeff Koons’s bags for Louis Vuitton; Stella McCartney dresses imprinted with an 18th-century George Stubbs painting); and the calendar of runway shows staged in architectural icons, from Westminster Abbey (Gucci) to Rio de Janeiro’s Niterói Contemporary Art Museum (Louis Vuitton). In Italy, while Milan remains the capital of the fashion industry, it’s in Florence that the country’s top designers are unleashing their off-the-runway creativity. Beyond the boutiques of Via Tornabuoni, a new wave of culture-centric projects is breathing new life into the Renaissance city’s rag trade.
It might be argued that this has been happening for centuries: The city’s wool merchants became official patrons of the Duomo in 1331. Seventy years later, their rivals in the cloth merchants’ guild launched a design competition for the cathedral baptistery’s Gate of Paradise doors, giving the city one of its enduring masterpieces. The Antico Setificio Fiorentino, an 18th-century silk factory now owned by classic Florentine fashion brand Stefano Ricci, still uses a warping mill designed by Leonardo da Vinci.