Italian Style: The Lowdown on 4 of the Country’s Must-Know Designers

Italian Style

Cannoli. Pasta. The Ferrari. We’ve gotten some great imports from Italy. But the fashion? It’s by far our favorite. Here, the sartorial résumés of some of the country’s finest designers. All we can say is grazie, Italy.

VALENTINO
History:
In business since 1960 (when Valentino Garavani opened his atelier in Rome), this legendary label is known for its intricately detailed gowns. In 2007, to the shock of many, Valentino announced his retirement. Today, the house resides under the creative direction of designers Maria Grazia Chiuri and Pierpaolo Piccioli, who have toughened up Valentino’s famed feminine aesthetic with a few beloved stud accents.
Most Memorable Design: Jackie O’s 1953 wedding dress – which now resides in the Kennedy Library in Boston, Massachusetts.
Diffusion Lines: RED Valentino, Valentino Garavani, Valentino Roma, Valentino Uomo, Miss V, Oliver, and Valentino Più

DOLCE & GABBANA
History:
Founded in 1985 by then-couple Stefano Gabbana and Domenico Dolce, Dolce & Gabbana was known in its early years for its corsetry and “Sicilian widow” look (think plenty of draped black lace). Today, the brand has expanded to include fragrances and accessories – but is still widely revered for its use of leopard print and unflagging love for anything of the va-va-voom kind.
Most Memorable Design: Madonna’s 1991 rhinestone-covered bodice, worn at the Truth or Dare premiere.
Diffusion Lines: D&G, D&G Junior, and Dolce & Gabbana Basic

PRADA
History:
In 1978, Miuccia Prada took over her grandfather’s Italian leather goods business (which dates back to 1913). When she debuted the label’s first black nylon backpack, the world went crazy over it – and in 1988 a full women’s ready-to-wear line was born. Today, the label continues to present fabrics in revolutionary, yet always luxurious, ways.
Most Memorable Design: Miuccia’s debut design for the label in 1985: a simple black nylon backpack adorned with a subtle black plaque.
Diffusion Lines: Miu Miu, Collezione Uomo, Prada Sport, and Linea Rossa

GIORGIO ARMANI
History: Giorgio Armani introduced his menswear label in 1974, and his impeccable tailoring quickly put Milan on the map. Six years later he designed the suits for Richard Gere’s character in American Gigolo. He became an instant Hollywood favorite – especially on the red carpet – with stars turning to him for his glamorous yet understated creations.
Most Memorable Design: The Power Suit, which has been the symbol of success since the 1980s.
Diffusion Lines: Armani Privé, Emporio Armani, Emporio Armani EA7, Armani Exchange, Armani Collezioni, Mani, Giorgio Armani A. Milano Borgonuovo 21, Giorgio Armani Le Collezioni, and Giorgio Armani Classico

Our Globetrotting Style: Off to Italy Boutique opens Friday, March 15, at 11AM ET.

By Keriann Coffey, Associate Blog Editor

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March 15, 2013