The role of America in the development of the Italian fashion industry 1945-1965

White, Nicola (1997) The role of America in the development of the Italian fashion industry 1945-1965. (MPhil thesis), Kingston University, .


This thesis investigates the contribution of America to the evolution of Italian Fashion between 1945 and 1965. It is proposed that the two decades following the Second World War were critical to the establishment of today's celebrated Italian fashion industry and that the US played a significant and as yet unacknowledged part in this development. The study assesses the role of America within the financial and Industrial organisation of Italian post-war reconstruction and explores the contribution made by the US to the regeneration of the Italian textiles industry. Further, this study shows that American interest was central to the expansion of the Italian fashion industry, in terms of both production and style, but that Italian fashion combined the lessons learnt from America with its own ideas and energies. It is demonstrated that the Italian fashion industry at couture and boutique level made deliberate choices to develop an Italian national identity in fashion design, partially in response to American interest. The research is contextualised through a consideration of the relationship between Italian fashion style and American culture. The way in which the Italian fashion industry responded to this stimulus is pinpointed and it is shown how Italian fashion was actively promoted in the US and with what effects. Integral to this documentation and analysis is the use of a multi-disciplinary methodology that consolidates material culture approaches with economic and oral history, film, archival research and analysis of surviving garments. By examining the early post-war evolution of Italian fashion in this way, this study contributes to the scant research on twentieth century dress, in particular Italian dress and specifically exposes, for the first time, the depth of American involvement in Italian fashion in a crucial period of the development of the industry which is so internationally successful today.

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