A rendering of the crafts exhibit on display at Milan’s MUDEC.

The big guns are getting behind Italian craftsmanship.

This story first appeared in the September 21, 2016 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.

The Camera Nazionale della Moda Italiana, together with the Ministry of Economic Development and ICE, the Italian Trade Commission, are staging an exhibition celebrating the country’s crafts and innovative techniques that will be unveiled Sept. 21 at Milan’s MUDEC, the city’s museum of culture. The launch event, hosted by Milan mayor Giuseppe Sala and Carlo Capasa, president of the Italian fashion body, is expected to draw Prime Minister Matteo Renzi, who will once again officially kick off Milan Fashion Week.

Called “Crafting the Future. Histories of Artisanality and Innovation,” the exhibition is curated by Vogue Italia editor in chief Franca Sozzani.

Capasa said with the exhibition, the Camera continues to promote and enhance the value of Italian manufacturing — “a unique resource, globally.” Capasa observed that this leadership and tradition must be protected and updated with technological innovation, the designers’ style and concepts and the ethical dimension, which can give rise to a Made in Italy movement “even more special, compared with other pipelines.” For this reason, he explained, the show was developed as a project that would create “a dialogue between companies that invest in innovation and sustainability and artisans-entrepreneurs that have worked with the new generation.” The end result is a series of stories and “intriguing, immersive” videos that “prove the vitality and richness of the Italian fashion system.”

Michele Scannavini, president of ICE, underscored that at a time of “globalization and diffusion at all levels of technologies that are increasingly more sophisticated, the Italian artisanal tradition, with its know-how, handmade content and creativity, represents a richness to be emphasized. This is a tradition that has not remained anchored in the past, but has succeeded in evolving, adapting to the times, tackling eco-sustainable challenges and those of product and process innovation.” Scannavini said the exhibition is part of an articulated program with which the government, through ICE, aims to strengthen Italy’s production system and to make it more competitive internationally.

The exhibition is set up by themes illustrating the richness of Italy’s production pipeline, from knitwear to jewelry, textiles to the most varied and complex leather crafts, up to couture techniques.

Manufacturers include Miles and Lineapiù for knitwear and textiles developing 3-D knits; Candiani and Canepa for sustainable fabrics; Bonotto Editions with a special installation of artistic fabrics; Fondazione Arte della Seta Lisio [silk]; Bottonificio Padano [buttons]; ateliers Mazzanti Piume [feathers]; Rosso Venezia and tannery Sciarada for footwear, and Aurora Pettinari for embroideries. Also among the projects are Artemest, a web site that presents more than 150 fashion and design artisans; the Monteneri network platform of artisans; artists-entrepreneurs Benedetta Bruzziches, with her colorful, quirky and inventive handbags, and Claudio Cutuli, who grows his own plants and crops to make natural fabric dyes — such as red onion from Tropea, pomegranate rind, poppy flower and blueberry — for his line of scarves.

Designers created products specifically for the exhibition, working with some top manufacturers in different sectors. The items will be for sale. Also part of the storytelling, there is a live workshop.

“Italy’s pipeline is complete, from spinning to fabrics and the final product,” said Sozzani, crediting the inventiveness of Italian artisans, and noting that the country’s strength relies on “specialized districts in every region, from north to south.”

Ivan Scalfarotto, parliamentary secretary at the Ministry of Economic Development, highlighted the blending of past and future in the exhibit. This underscores the “importance and excellence of the Italian production patrimony, reinterpreted in light of new technologies. The unique craft in our country is the starting point to project Made in Italy in an undisputed position of leadership globally.”

The exhibit runs until Oct. 13.

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