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"Milan and fashion, a tribute to Gian Paolo Barbieri"

Milan celebrates the great Lombardian photographer Gian Paolo Barbieri with the exhibition "Milan and fashion, a tribute to Gian Paolo Barbieri", which will take place at Palazzo Pirelli from the 17th to the 30th of September 2019, in conjunction with Milan Fashion Week.

courtesy Fondazione Gian Paolo Barbieri

This exhibition is promoted and curated by the Gian Paolo Barbieri Foundation in collaboration with Martina Corgnati and organized by Marta Menegon and Sara Arrigoni. This event at the Pirelli Palace Event Space features roughly 70 photographic works that retrace the artist's creative life, from the beginning of his career until the early 2000s.

"Milan and fashion, a tribute to Gian Paolo Barbieri" is a journey through the life of Gian Paolo Barbieri, that recounts the imperishable bond with Lombardy but mainly with his hometown, Milan, which is fundamental for his artistic research and his creative production.

Barbieri’s first contact with the fashion world happens during his childhood, through the experiences shared with his father, a fabric merchant, who took him to work as a child allowing Gian Paolo to propose combinations of colors in the choice of fabrics. The infinite combinations of color that make up the fabrics and soon fashion itself, have become part of his imagination and the subject of his work.

courtesy Fondazione Gian Paolo Barbieri

At a time in which Italian fashion magazines reused the photos of the haute couture taken in Paris, “Barbieri chooses Italy, sheltered from a world that is perhaps too snobbish, too sophisticated and self-referential to maintain some form of contact with reality. Diana Vreeland, the all-powerful art director of Vogue America, states on the pages of Vogue Italy. She likes Barbieri and frequently invites him to the USA, with guaranteed months and months of work. But Gian Paolo Barbieri refuses; he is struck but not seduced by the rooms covered in leopard fur, with the profusion of blue blood that forms the entourage, from the cascades of red roses and stilettos. Although Barbieri's style is elaborate and precious, something of the Lombard boy remained in him, a certain one frankness, a search for perfection that leads him to expect more not from the world but from himself, to continually overcome himself, always meeting new challenges", as Martina Corgnati wrote in the catalog of the retrospective exhibition at the Royal Palace of Milan (2007). So, Gian Paolo Barbieri gives a unique face to Italian fashion, which no one had been able to imagine, becoming an accomplice and companion to the designers who assisted in the formation of the prestige’s term ‘made in Italy’ and how they would have turned into protagonists of a new era of the costume and fashion: among these, we remember Valentino, Gianfranco Ferré and Walter Albini, to name a few. Some works perfectly describe Barbieri's desire to keep Italy, and in particular Milan, at the center of attention: a specific example is a shot realized for Gianfranco Ferré in 1991 in Piazza Duomo: the very elegant Aly Dunne, immortalized in the background of the Cathedral, emerges from the white background surrounded by pigeons.

The inauguration of the exhibition will take place on September 17, 2019, at 1 pm by invitation only while the public will be able to visit it with no entrance fees from Monday to Thursday, from 9:30 am to 12:30 pm and 13:30 pm to 17:30 pm, and Friday from 9:30 am to 12:30 pm.

Words by Elena Affricani


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