A Moment in Fashion: Aria Art Gallery, Florence

I found The Aria Art Gallery by accident on a walk to get somewhere else. I was attracted to it without first knowing it was an art gallery; its nameplate was very demure and almost diminished entirely by the lushly arbored garden behind a gate in an otherwise narrow stone-and-cobble street.

The show they had up, called “Glamour Icons and Fashion, Photography and Vintage Dresses 50-60” was not only gorgeous, but pushed the border of what a gallery could recognize as high art. One part of the display featured photographs of film stars on and off set, while another featured three period dresses on mannequins. The photos explained a union we take for granted (of fashion with celebrity culture) and one we have yet to fully accept (of fashion as high art of intellectual merit). The dresses stood in the center of the rooms, rather than behind glass panes as in museums, and in that way they commanded and occupied their own space. One other display featured hats, cases, some accessories arranged not in the museological way, but like an arrangement in a shop window. I loved this because it suggested that fashion displays did not need to be scientifically dissected in order to retain their intellectual potency.

Sitting next to the press releases, a stack of packets on the brief history of fashion were a thoughtful footnote. More than simply contextualizing, these demonstrated fashion’s sensitivity to both artistic and cultural values over time. The texts also reveal that the gallery is highly conscious of the relevance of this show in the gallery’s space: Italy’s legacies in cinema, models, fashion, and art not only cross and condense here, but play coyly off of the gallery’s physical location. Being only blocks away from the Uffizi, the show proves that an Italian icon can manifest in many ways.

Aria Art Gallery
Borgo S.S. Apostoli, 40
Florence, Italy

Through August 20, 2010

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