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Memos. On Fashion in this Millennium

Start Date 21 February 2020
End Date 28 September 2020
Venue Poldi Pezzoli Museum
Location Milan, Italy
Curator Maria Luisa Frisa with interventions by Judith Clark
Designer Stefano Tonchi
Exhibition display of painting in front of wall mounted historical portraits
Exhibition display of tulip staircase with wrought iron handle with a picture of the same scene leaning against it
Exhibition display of dressed mannequins

Temporary exhibition staged by the Camra Nazionale della moda Italiana, in collaboration with the Museo Poldi Pezzoli and with the support of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, the Italian Trade Agency ICE and the Municipality of Milan.   With the participation of Tendercapital. 

The project, in the form of an exhibition and a catalogue, aims to spark off a series of reflections on contemporary fashion, its qualities and its attributes, taking as its starting point Italo Calvino’s Six Memos for the Next Millennium, that the writer was supposed to give at Harvard University in the autumn of 1985. Calvino died suddenly in September of the same year, but his wife Esther decided to publish what he had written for them. Thus the incisive and inclusive word Memos has been chosen as the title of the exhibition.

Reading Calvino today raises a fundamental question: can fashion, given its nature as a cultural industry, as a system of communication, as a rich, hybrid and problematic territory, be considered a scientific and poetic practice, and therefore a naturally literary one? So the exhibition uses Calvino’s words as devices to reflect on what has changed and what has stayed the same in fashion. Thus Memos sets out to construct a ‘discourse on method,’ or rather a reflection on fashion curating and its ability to deal with the different products of that fashion: not just the objects, but also the images and the words. Reflecting on the practice of fashion curating, Maria Luisa Frisa has brought in Judith Clark in the role of ‘exhibition-maker’ and Stefano Tonchi with a visual project. The exhibition is at once open work and scientific and poetic attitude, an exercise ‘of research and design, of discovery and invention’. 

The selection of objects: the clothes, magazines and ephemera that are part of the stories told by fashion, and that help to organize the exhibition into a sequence of three-dimensional ‘memos’, include among other things clothes designed by Giorgio Armani, J.W. Anderson for Loewe, Arthur Arbesser, Demna Gvasalia for Balenciaga, Boboutic, Riccardo Tisci for Burberry, Karl Lagerfeld for Chanel, Gabriele Colangelo, Maria Grazia Chiuri for Dior, Marco de Vincenzo, Fendi, Maria Sole Ferragamo, Paul Andrew for Salvatore Ferragamo, Alessandro Michele for Gucci, Maison Martin Margiela, Francesco Risso for Marni, Noir for Moncler Genius, Moschineo, MSGM, Fausto Puglisi, Prada, Pier Paolo Piccioli for Valentino, Giambattista Valli, Random Identities, Versace.

Images courtesy of Poldi Pezzoli Museum