Memos: On Fashion In This Millennium

“Fashion has become the most popular and representative artistic medium of the 21st century,” fashion curator Maria Luisa Frisa stated boldly, during the press conference introducing Museo Poldi Pezzoli’s latest exhibition on Italian fashion.

Yet, if fashion is the most popular and representative medium of our time, how can we give garments the right amount of importance for them to carry a message to future generations? 

It is with this thought in mind that the renowned curator and head of Fashion College IUAV proposed the idea behind the exhibition she curated with the help of exhibition-maker Judith Clark and former Editor-In-Chief of W Magazine Stefano Tonchi.

Sponsored by Italy’s Camera Nazionale Della Moda, the exhibit officially opened today at Milan’s Museo Poldi Pezzoli, the iconic house-museum a stone’s throw from La Scala and Via Montenapoleone. 

Taking Italo Calvino’s Six Memos For The Next Millennium as a starting point, the curators aimed at exploring what the relationship between fashion and museums is today. Can it be considered a scientific and poetic practice and, therefore, a naturally literary one?

“Now people understand that fashion is so eloquent and it communicates so many contradictory elements and isn’t perhaps only about beauty,” said Judith Clark, in an interview.

Setting out to construct a ‘discourse on methods of fashion curation,’ the exhibit not only includes garments and objects of particular importance to the fashion community, but also a photographic project curated by Tonchi covering the history of fashion publishing and words – such as, for example, Anna Piaggi’s infamous press releases for Prada and Walter Albini’s original press materials and rare illustrations.

From Alessandro Michele’s ovary dresses for Gucci to Francesco Risso’s deconstruction of the middle-class bourgeoisie’s wardrobe, the garments presented are many and follow very specific pathways.

An unusual way of curating an exhibition, but nonetheless intriguing, as the professional skills deployed are those of the critic-curator, exhibition maker and fashion photographer, in a process that continuously makes us question the way we look at things.

“I’m an exhibition maker so I work with the context, which in this case is incredible because its the Poldi-Pezzoli Museum,” continued Clark. “When I work I start really trying to put together ideas for a space and then I populate with garments that I curate, or in this case Maria Luisa Frisa curates. But its a very conceptual process, it’s always about the idea between the relationships of the garments and how to build other references in the exhibition structure.”

The point, obviously, is the meaning of gestures – a project that raises open-ended questions but gives no answers, leaving it all up to the viewer.

The exhibition will be on at Museo Poldi Pezzoli until May 5th 2020.

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