Collateral Exhibitions

The Golden Twenties. Life and fashion of the decade of Les Années Folles

Collateral exhibition curated by Paolo Aquilini, Clara Cappelletti
with the Silk Factory Foundation, the Association of the Former Alumni of the Silk Factory
Contribution by Ostinelli Seta, Clerici Tessuto, Bianca Cappello, Samuele Magri (PAVILION 4)

1919: The Treaty of Versailles officially ended the Great War. The world war left a trail of suffering and hopes for new life. Jazz, the syncopated 4/4 rhythm that makes the body move to the beat, started to spread in the United States and then in Europe.
It is in this time of changes, of apparently permanent optimism and freedom that the cult of youth rose, when technology entered everyone’s home under the guise of the telephone, radio, gramophone, automobile, when women shed their aura of perfection and for good took on an active not subservient role.
Fashion was drastically affected by this momentous change of lifestyle, punctuated by a stream of small revolutions in style, which, in the course of the years, developed the roots of all future fashion to this day.

With precious contributions from its partners, the Silk Museum of Como presents the 1919-1929 decade in a timeline, displaying clothes, objects, accessories, precious fabrics and items going back to the years of the Roaring Twenties.

The beginning of the decade appeared hesitant and bashful in the face of changes. The waistline lowered, the skirt shortened a few centimetres each year: in 1923 it reached the ankle, in 1924 the calf, in 1925 it was just below the knee and in 1927 it finally revealed it, for the first time in the history of fashion. The era of brazen women had begun. Flapper girls who touched up the makeup in public, smoked with a cigarette holder, waived their feather fans when pausing between Charleston dances.

The Silk Museum presents at Mercanteinfiera an immersive and sensory journey, featuring sounds and perfumes, shiny sequins and soft feathers. A journey that appears to be an anabasis inside a glittering world, and turns out to be a catabasis among political and economic movements that quietly defined an emerging new dark period, of which the Black Friday of 1929 was only the way in.
But jazz music in the nightclubs was too loud to feel it coming.

At pavilion 4 of Mercanteinfiera Spring 2020 (29 February – 8 March)

Bright Illusions: a homage to Kenneth Jay Lane. The King of Fakes

Collateral exhibition curated by Maria Teresa Cannizzaro and Fiorella Operto (PAVILION 4)

This is the portrait of Kenneth Jay Lane (1932 – 2017) famous American custom jewellery designer, the protagonist of the second collateral show, “Brilliant Illusions: a homage to Kenneth Jay Lane. The King of Fakes” curated by Maria Teresa Cannizzaro, collector , American bijoux scholar and President of the Passato e Futuro cultural association – Italian section of the Vintage Fashion & Costume Jewelry Club and Fiorella Operto, costume historian, vice-president and passionate collector.

The exhibition celebrates also the Italian know-how that contributed a great deal to what Lane himself called “the beautification of America”. “Italy, a country that I love and visit often and from whose exceptional museums I draw great inspiration”, the custom jewellery designer used to say.

In fact, he appreciated not just Italian culture and art, but the sophisticated craftsmanship of the artisans who, immigrated from the end of 1800 to Providence (where Kenneth graduated from the prestigious Rhode Island School of Design), livened up the flourishing custom jewellery factories that supplied Hollywood productions.

Today, his more affordable creations, those less expensive yet elegant and tasteful, have gained a growing popularity. So much so that his first custom jewels, such as those designed for Jacqueline Kennedy from 1962 onward, were actioned at prestigious sites at prices not distant from those of real jewels, as an increasingly wide audience in various continents has started to collect them.

In the year of Parma Capital of Culture, Mercanteinfiera wants to pay homage to one of the most cultivated and eclectic creators of custom jewels by putting on display a sizeable selection of his creations. He used to love to define himself essentially as a…trader, capable of making women of every social status feel like Cinderella going to the Prince’s Ball.

At pavilion 4 of Mercanteinfiera Spring 2020 (29 February – 8 March)