"Not So Simple"

Reassessing 1951, G.B. Giorgini and the launch of Italian fashion

Chiara Faggella

Alessandra Vaccari, Louise Wallenberg

Stockholm University Press


How did Italy start to become a reputable country of origin for couture and fashion merchandise? Scholars seem to agree that a Florentine commissionaire, Giovanni Battista Giorgini (1898-1971), was chiefly responsible for the "birth" of Italian fashion in 1951. But what if there was more to it than that? This dissertation de-mythicizes what has been written about Giorgini so far, and historicises his contribution in the larger context of those organizations and individuals that, immediately after World War II, were striving to promote and export Italian fashion in the United States. By critically discussing primary sources from Italian archives, US newspapers, fashion magazines and a series of oral testimonies, the dissertation challenges the mainstream historiography of postwar Italian fashion and unravels a complicated scenario of actors and events. Here the earliest characterizations of Italy as a non-derivative fashion market are retraced against the backdrop of the political and cultural reconfigurations of Europe, at the outset of the Cold War.

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This dissertation aims to shed light on the circumstances that allowed Italy to become a reputable country of origin in the international fashion market. In particular, its contribution to the historiography of Italian fashion is a reassessment of the role played by Giovanni Battista Giorgini, whose involvement with the fashion and handicraft industries has not been fully investigated by scholars so far. Drawing upon Marc Bloch’s paradigm against the “fetish of the single cause”, the author argues that the historiography of Italian fashion is not so simple and linear as it has been presented so far. Instead, the appearance of Giorgini’s Italian High Fashion Shows from 1951 needs to be contextualized with other historical facts. By outlining a populous scenario of different actors and concurring events, the dissertation breaks away from the simplistic notion of Italian fashion being born overnight in 1951, concluding that the historicisation of Giorgini, and his contribution to the promotion of Italy as an independent, non-derivative fashion market for export, was made possible thanks to a larger network of transatlantic actors that, immediately after World War II, strove for the same business goals. Eventually, this dissertation provides a historical perspective that defies the simplistic categorization of the past in straight compartments, in this case blurring the margins between Fascist and liberated, democratic Italy.

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  • Type:
    Doctoral Thesis (other academic)
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About the Author

Chiara Faggella

Chiara Faggella, Ph.D., is a visiting fellow at the European University Institute of Fiesole, Italy. She completed her doctoral education at the former Centre for Fashion Studies, Department of Media Studies. Her doctoral dissertation, "Not So Si... Read more


Faggella, C. (2019). "Not So Simple": Reassessing 1951, G.B. Giorgini and the launch of Italian fashion. Diss. Stockholm University. Stockholm: Stockholm University Press.