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Dedicated to insects, swans, lobsters and serpents, fish, shells, corals and babirusas. Conceived as a fanciful and exaggerated museum of natural history, the Animalia Fashion exhibition presents an unexpected encounter between Haute Couture and nature at Pitti Palace in Florence to discover the wonders of the animal kingdom. The journey through the history of zoology in the shape of contemporary fashion in on view until May 5.

Dresses exhibited like authentic sculptures, embroideries are treated like paintings and the fabrics project the drawing inspiration from the animal world through the use of motifs, colours, patterns and shapes. Animalia Fashion displays the alluring power of nature with an astonishing overview of what Haute Couture has to offer nature in terms of inspiration and atmospherics, and art as a product of imagination and creativity.

In this exhibition, clothing, accessories and jewellery are transformed into experiences, exploring the relationship that fashion establishes with animals in a poetic manner. Bejewelled insects are trapped in plexiglas handbags, herbariums and cabinets host detailed plant drawings next to preserved butterflies and golden caterpillar coat pins. Taxidermy fish and parrots pose behind colourful, feathered frocks and scaled dresses. Hedgehog hats and butterfly skirts, coral sandals and shell corsets, the connotations are endless.

"In this array of almost one hundred pieces ranging from dresses and handbags to shoes, jewels and accessories, Haute Couture interprets a fabulous universe in which mannequins become the creatures of a modern and poetic bestiary. It is also a tribute to the artistic and technical qualities of contemporary fashion, an industry to which the Museum of Costume and Fashion in Pitti Palace is devoting fresh energy and attention", said Eike Schmidt, Director of the Uffizi Galleries.

A total of eighteen rooms are filled with this beautiful juxtaposition of contemporary fashion items created between 2000 and 2018, and sewn by master couturiers from Maison Margiela by John Galliano, Ralf & Russo, Chanel by Karl Lagerfeld, Valentino, Agatha Ruiz de la Prada, Maison Schiaparelli or Iris van Herpen to name a few. The exhibition’s layout is designed as a fantastic and hyperbolic natural history museum, inviting the viewer to reflect on the wonders of the universe.

Curator Patricia Lurati, who devised the exhibition as the setting for an imaginary museum, added: "In an emotional dialogue with this zoo of fabrics, feathers, leathers and more, the visitor is surprised and involved in the discovery of the wonders of the animal world, which becomes a source of inspiration for designers and creates unexpected juxtapositions in the observer's imagination”. Yet at the same time, it sounds an alarm bell at a time when climate change and the decreasing interest of superpowers in environmental issues are endangering countless species.
The exhibition Animalia Fashion will be on view until May 5 at Palazzo Pitti, Piazza de Pitti 1, Florence.

Marina Pérez
Antonio Quattrone

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