by Bruno Daddi
The best of the finery
at the Costume Gallery
Even people who are not particularly interested in fashions and costumes will still find it a fascinating experience to visit the Costume Gallery (founded in 1983 on the initiative of Cristina Piacenti) at the Pitti Palace. It is in fact an almost unique museum in its kind, dynamic without being static, while constantly being renewed with a continuous rotation of the costumes in its collection. This is partly to help preserve them and partly thanks to a series of new donations and acquisitions.
Two separate though closely linked exhibitions are being staged here - this really is a suitable description - until December 31st. The first group that vissitors meet on entering the rooms of Palazzina della Meridiana in the Pitti Palace is a delightful display of "Stage Costumes - Costumes and theatre designs from the Tirelli Collection ", a small selection from the huge collection of about 300 costumes, donated in 1986, which were once worn by famous actors and opera singers like Monserrat Caballè, Sarah Ferrati, Laura Antonelli, Paolo Poli, Romolo Valli, Nora Ricci and Romy Schneider for their performances on stage, in films and on television; the sight of them brings back many memories of the time when they swept the boards of the Scala (Milan), San Carlo (Naples) and the Fenice (Venice) in operas like Norma, Edipo Re, Tristan and Isolde, Semiramida, Così fan tutte and La clemenza di Tito or in "minor" theatres for plays like Filottete, Henry IV and La Locandiera; or were worn in films like In the name of the rose, C'era una volta, Il malato immaginario, The New World, La Traviata, The Innocent and Ludwig or even on television for Oristea and Anna Karenina.
Piero Tosi: Elizabeth from Ludvig, directed by Luchino Visconti, 1973.
Marco Ferrero, Mauro Bolognini, Luigi Squarzina, Giorgio de Lullo, Francesco Rosi, Luca Ronconi, Franco Zeffirelli, Sandro Bolchi, Luchino Visconti, Liliana Cavani, just to mention a few, were among the famous directors of these performances with costumes by designers like Maurizio Monteverde, Gabriella Pescucci, Alberto Verso, Giacomo Manzù, Pier Luigi Pizzi, Giulio Coltellacci, Carlo Diappi, Piero Tosi, Gae Aulenti, Bice Brichetto and Giuseppe Crisolini Malatesta. A really magical atmosphere! We are brought back to reality - a reality of two centuries ago - by "From Drawing Room to Fashion", where we can find three 18th century Sicilian costumes - one male and two female - that create a real tableau-vivant in a reconstructed drawing room containing furniture from the Pitti Palace and the Villa of Poggio Imperiale. The costumes all date from around 1770 and are the property of the Barons Bruno Statella family of Ispica (Ragusa).