Exhibitions off the Beaten Path: Fashion at the Time of Fascism

The exhibition Fashion At The Time Of Fascism - Italian Modernist Lifestyle 1922-1943 examines the relation between fashion, modernism and Fascism and will be on view through June 18. Although, not off the beaten path geographically, as it is in London, the exhibition is housed within a smaller and relatively new venue, the Fashion Space Gallery at the London College of Fashion.

The exhibition is curated by the Italian scholars Mario Lupano and Alessandra Vaccari and it is based on their honominous book. It is, in fact, described as a visual essay. (For those who miss the exhibition, the book, which is described in a New Yorker review as "handsome," can be easily found in Italian and English.)

Like the book, the exhibition, which is comprised of a range of media from actual garments to fashion and film magazines, is organized around four main concepts: Measurement, Model, Mark and Parade. Those are described in the literature accompanying the exhibition as follows:

"Measurement investigates the aspects of modernism which are closer to the concepts of order, rationality, scientific rigor and technical control. Rationalization in the productive processes of fashion is exalted by the use of beauty machines and sartorial instruments to measure the body, such as the one Domenico Caraceni patented.

Model is more directly connected with the discourse on “types” and lifestyles and is devoted to the dress code and models of style that become reference points for the whole epoch: from the iconic value of the “duce” to the stars of Hollywood and Italian cinema.

Mark analyses the connections between fashion and the construction of identity processes: from search for originality in national products, to authority of fashion creators, to the attempt of structuring an Italian fashion system.

Parade deals with the catwalk rite in its elements of modernist seriality and is concerned with fashion display in exhibitions, shop windows, cities and parades. In order to better grasp the theoretical configuration elaborated in the book and consequently organize a critical discourse on the modernist conception of fashion design in Italy, the exhibition includes the conceptual maps which, for each single session, identify the relationships between modernist ideas on the one hand and fashion practices on the other."