Italian Women's Fashion

A Soiree Through the Decades

Italian Women's Fashion: A Sorelle Fontana Creation

Italian women have long led the world of fashion, their obsession with la bella figura second to none. Though Italy has had a strong reputation of luxury goods and garments since the 11th century, modern Italian women's fashion only took off in the 1900s with designers like Sorelle Fontana and then Elsa Schiaparelli.

While Sorelle Fontana became the couturier to the stars, Schiaparelli went on to become one of the most influential designers of the 20th century, with the help of her shocking designs created under the influence of her Surrealist friends and acquaintances.

Italian Women's Fashion: Elsa Schiaparelli

The atelier Sorelle Fontana made its way into the hearts of Italian aristocracy and the rich and famous all over the world through a groundbreaking fashion show in 1951 held in a palace by Count Giorgini. After this, the Fontana sisters went on to dress Anita Ekberg in Fellini's film, La Dolce Vita, which portrayed the decadent lifestyle of the high-living, rich and idle 'jet set'.

The young and gracious Audrey Hepburn wore their clothes in Roman Holiday, making Sorelle Fontana the dressmakers for royalty all over the world. It also set the easy grace of Italian women's fashion as a viable alternative to the constricted lines from Paris at the time.

Jacqueline Onassis in Valentino

Italian women's fashion continued to do well into the 60s, promoting a sort of leisure chic in America, and throughout Europe. Eveningwear got a new look thanks to Valentino, who dressed Jacqueline Onassis for her wedding in 1968, making Italian fashion a household name across the continents.

In the 1970's, women's fashion in Italy took a turn towards prêt-à-porter, because fashion had to be made available to the masses if money was to be made from the business of dressing people.

Updated Armani Power Suit 2009

Designers like Armani, Versace, and Missoni created and followed the trends. Through advertising and promotion, they were able to sell the Italian fashion image to Italian women and women worldwide.

In the 1980's, power suits, pioneered by Armani but later adopted all over the world, gave rise to unisex fashion. Dolce e Gabbana broke into the "Made in Italy" band of designers at this time, taking sexy edginess to the next level, both in their evening and casual collections.

Italian Women's Fashion: Benetton

The 1990's brought the sportswear and casual chic of Italian fashion houses like Diesel and Benetton to the fore. At the same time Tom Ford at Gucci called high-octane sexuality and luxury back into Italian women's fashion.

Miuccia Prada, meanwhile, turned the staid Prada brand into a women's fashion powerhouse after her first prêt-à-porter collection hit the ramps in 1989. Italian women suddenly had too many gorgeous clothes to choose from.

Italian Women's Fashion: Prada

In the first decade of the 21st century, Italian women's fashion has become a leader, be it couture, high street, rich glamour, smart casual, or sporty chic.

In this section on Italian women's fashion, Life in Italy focuses on the various parts of a fashionable Italian woman's wardrobe.


Introduction By: Damyanti Ghosh



Wednesday, April 27TH, 2011 by Guest

Fantastic article on the history of Italian fashion! I think Italians always look good, they have a real sophistication in the way that the dress. Women always look so tailored, smart and classic. Many of the best fashion lables have come from Italy too, and of course Italy produces the best leather in the world!

Monday, July 04TH, 2011 by Guest

ITALY IS AMAZING and the fashion is FAB it's the best country EVER XXXXX ♥

Wednesday, February 01TH, 2012 by Guest

Italy is doing great in fashion, especially since it is one of the leading industry of Il Bel Paese (as usually Italy is portrayed). It's a sobering though that it really cannot win over french competition. Although Italy has this amazing tradition and reputation of good quality focus still lays behind.

Tuesday, May 15TH, 2012 by Guest


Thursday, June 14TH, 2012 by Guest


Thursday, June 14TH, 2012 by Guest

i cant believe thwe wiggles broke up. i am so depressed. i really need them to group up again so i can become a duck

Thursday, June 14TH, 2012 by Guest


Thursday, June 14TH, 2012 by Guest

i got pashion for fashion 

Thursday, June 14TH, 2012 by Guest

i fight for fair elections and equal rights to wom.... i cant say that

Tuesday, October 30TH, 2012 by Guest

so cute