Written by Giulia Piceni. Photographs by Virginia Niccolucci and Alessio Pagani. Cover Image: Lucrezia Veltroni, Mercurial, 2021-2022.
MIXED MEDIA SHOW ORIGINS
SS 1999 by Alexander McQueen: Shalom Harlow sprayed with acid green and black by two mechanical arms. It is the kind of image that never fades once it’s stuck in your mind.
On the contrary, it revives every time possible, taking on innovative meanings and contemplating new possible truths.
Well known for its constant attraction to experimentation, the post-punk cultural environment of the 90s saw the development of new codes and methods to display fashion shows. The runway would often be transformed into a performance playground for designers.
Among the already established English designers, Alexander McQueen aimed to investigate the relationship between humans and machines by adopting a very personal, almost cryptic visual language that spanned from Victorian historical references to the more advanced technological inventions.
The iconic ending of his show can be considered part of the primordial disclosures of technology as a rationalised mechanism to achieve magical effects.
Similarly, almost 25 years later, Istituto Marangoni Firenze continues to challenge the relationship between humans and technology, art and fashion by staging a show that was able to tease the senses and generate illusionistic yet real spaces in our eyes and mind.
DESCENDING INTO THE UNDERWORLD
In the deconsecrated church of San Pancrazio, the glorious Renaissance past of the Tempietto del San Sepolcro by Leon Battista Alberti meets the crude reality of the last century’s scathing art by Marino Marini. Here the exclusive event of the Fashion & Art show by Istituto Marangoni Firenze took place under the banner of interdisciplinarity.
The art show in the crypt that welcomed the guests created a charming atmosphere that, supported by the contrast of medieval rounded arches and HD screens, hosted under the same roof immaterial universes, unknown places with a familiar allure, united by the use of digital representation tools.
This journey in the underworld begins with the bright lights of San Lorenzo, the night of the year where we can usually see most shooting stars in the night sky. These digital lights are now encapsulated in a screen by Noemi Messina (Spectacle, 2022), reduced to small digital particles and displayed in all their ungraspable beauty.
Marcella Olivieri uses 3D animation and drawings to create an intimate, cosy environment to make a personal reflection on the topic of sexual orientation. With a video (The Keeper of Secrets, 2022) and a children’s book (Like the Lesbian Monkeys, 2022), the artist aims to display how much homosexuality has been portrayed as unnatural when many species practice it freely, stating once again how us humans need to break down social constructs to grow.
Amane Aoyama’s artworks The Brightest Color and Samsa (2022) are 3D animations that the visitors can experience with a VR set and as ‘augmented’ video footage, inviting the viewer to reflect on the experience of Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). It is incredible to notice the artist’s ability to bring vast worlds into an underground environment like a crypt. The screens were sublimated by a suffused atmosphere; that night, it seemed possible to get through them and enter another dimension.
For the final show, the artist ADAN proposed two mesmerising video installations; the one that caught most of the viewers’ attention was indeed Look Mum I Can Fly (2022). The large-scale artwork accompanied the visitors at the beginning of the ramp pleasing their eyes through the challenging combination of artistic practice, bold colours and x-ray images of a human spine. The large video screen is set right next to the stairs giving access to the fashion show venue. Its strategical placement aptly prepares the visitors for the next chapter.
Ground level, artificial light, a sombre allure. The right side of the transept was illuminated by the architectural video installation of the creative team of Monogrid, reproducing a savage natural environment, an uncorrupted jungle inside the walls of the building, morphing and changing according to the generative will of an Artificial Intelligence.
In the air, the tension was palpable, almost electrifying; as if the spectators were in a thriller movie, they knew that something was going to happen. They sat, and an impatient buzzing filled the museum. Marino Marini’s Monumento equestre (1957) stood right at the centre of the church transept, dominating the runway, ready to be walked over by the models.
The last few guests arrived; professionals and headhunters from the fashion world, such as Sara Maino from Vogue Talents, were ready to spot the new rising stars among the young designers’ collections.
The music started, and an almost tribal rhythm was accompanied by lights slicing the air. The tension was at its highest when the lights stopped flashing: the time for the fashion show had come.
The looks designed by the ten best students of the year, chosen by an international jury, wowed the spectators with every step the models took under the cold lights of the runway. In the beginning, it was nature: a kitesurf inspired the collection The Wind Will Carry Us by Urtè Ilignitè and Le Givre by Xinxing Su. The designers paid tribute to Katharine Morning’s pottery art, providing two outstanding examples of how our planet’s fragile ecosystem has a hold on young designers, consecrating this theme as one of the hottest topics of their generation.
Even Nicola de Piano’s Echoes collection evoked the natural world: the bright colours of flower bouquets took an edgy allure, framed in an alternation of hard and fluid lines. Ahkin Shin’s Free Div’in is the occasion to visually reflect again on our lifestyle’s impact on our common house.
The show carries on with a succession of antipodean styles harmoniously clashing with one another; their differences created a visual rhythm that kept the audience’s eyes on the spectacle in front of them, inviting them to grasp the details of the garments and accessories shown.
The show ended with the ten designers walking down the catwalk, holding hands with their models: the perfect way to let the public thank them for creating such an intertwinement for both eyes and mind.
Among the public, it was possible to spot a character of his own: visual artist and mentor Andy Picci was also in Florence to attend the show.
At the end of the runway, he was seen chatting with some second-year Multimedia Arts students he collaborated with for the project Re:mixing the city (might delete later). Their work included creating a series of Instagram filters that aimed to reimagine the key-historical locations in Florence. These artworks are shown right next to the runway on a series of luminescent panels installed next to Marini’s sculptures.
If the relationship between art and fashion could be compared to a romantic one, it would be a slow-burning type of love able to last decades, constantly fuelled by the thickest, best-seasoned wood, generating a long-lasting kind of warmth: inventiveness. On the night of June 15, the union we witnessed is the most evident pledge of the love between fashion and arts, the main feature that makes their bond so stable: the constant urge or reinvention to represent the present better.
ADAN, Amane Aoyama, Noemi Messina and Marcella Olivieri are undergraduate students in Multimedia Arts at Istituto Marangoni Firenze.
Laetitia Wen, Lucrezia Veltroni, Nicola De Piano, XingXing Su, Urtè Ilginyté, Alejandra Martine De Castro, Sana Kirshna, Montserrat Macias Cervello, Lydia Schneider and Ahjin Shim are undergraduate students in Fashion Design & Accessories at Istituto Marangoni Firenze.
Giulia Piceni is an undergraduate student in Arts Curating at Istituto Marangoni Firenze.
1. For a complete in-depth guide of the event, the artworks, and collections you can follow through with the 2022 Fashion & Art Show Event Guide.