A film is a powerful medium able to stir people’s imagination, but so is a catwalk show. In Italy, fashion entered the world of cinema through the creations of important designers and tailors, while costume designers involuntarily launched new trends by using particular materials, fabrics and accessories. Peroni Collection – Italian Style on the Silver Screen, an exhibition co-curated by photographer Rankin and fashion and film critic Anna Battista, looks at iconic costumes born out of the fantasy of legendary directors in collaboration with magnificent art directors, excellent costume designers and skilled artisans. The exhibition analyses 60 years of films (including Bitter Rice, La Dolce Vita and Blow-Up), trends and fashion, paying a tribute to those fashion maisons, tailoring houses, costume and fashion designers who contributed to create the magic of Italian cinema and also includes six images by Rankin.
The collection has been sourced from different historical archives including the Florence-based Ferragamo Museum, the Archivio Storico Foto Locchi and the Rome-based Archivio Storico Fernanda Gattinoni, with exclusive images from the Fondazione Micol Fontana chronicling the connection between the historical Sorelle Fontana fashion house and Ava Gardner. The event brings together over 50 photographs that tell the story of Italian style in celluloid from the past half-century of film-making and also features exclusive accessories, such as the legendary “paparazzo shoes” designed by shoemaker Alberto Dal Co’ in 1953, a selection of hats by Borsalino, the historical hat manufacturer founded by Giuseppe Borsalino in 1857 in Alessandria, and shoes from the Ferragamo’s Creations line, reproducing the original footwear Salvatore Ferragamo created for Ava Gardner and Marilyn Monroe.
Dazed Digital: What’s your favourite film featured in the Peroni Style on the Silverscreen exhibition?
Rankin: My favourite film in the exhibition would have to be Cinema Paradiso. I like the sense of nostalgia and find it very romantic. It was also my inspiration for the images I shot for the show. I particularly liked the montage of the screen kisses and I wanted to recreate that feel but with a contemporary twist to them.
DD: Were you ever inspired by one of these films in your work?
Rankin: Yes, definitely. Some of my projects were inspired by movies. For example, Snog was a tongue-in-cheek critique of the long-standing tradition of grandiose and dramatic film kisses. Those scenes can be quite over-charged with emotions and I wanted to remind people that ‘snogging’ is a subtle and beautiful way of communicating the most basic of human emotions – affection.
DD: Do you have a favourite Italian actor/actress?
Rankin: My favourite Italian actress would definitely have to be Monica Bellucci. She’s sexy and feminine and to me, she symbolises Italian style on the silver screen.
DD: In your opinion who is the most inspiring Italian director fashion-wise?
Rankin: I love cinema and always feel quite energized when I watch a good film. The most inspiring Italian director to me is Michelangelo Antonioni. When I saw Blow-up for the first time, I felt very excited by how he portrayed the world of fashion photography using David Bailey’s life as model and London in the ‘60s. Those were a fascinating times and he understood that the connection between photographers and fashion always had an intriguing appeal.
Peroni Collection – Italian Style on the Silver Screen is at the Proud Gallery, 161 King’s Road, London, March 9-19, 2011