the history of florentine fashion through photographs

For those of you in Florence this week, we imagine you’ve noticed that attractive, well-dressed men have invaded the city – not the worst invasion Florence has ever seen. Pitti Uomo 86 has arrived. Pitti Uomo, the largest men’s fashion event in the world, occurs twice a year in Florence, in January and June. If you are wondering why twice a year, we are wondering why not more?! While a pricey ticket or a celebrity boyfriend is still the requirement to get you behind the scenes, the event offers fantastic free spectacles for the public as well (and I’m not just talking about the men). Check out the line-up here.

In honor of all things sartorial this week, we decided to shut up and show you the history of Florence as an international fashion capital in the 20th century through photographs provided by Getty Images.  Along the way, we’ll highlight the cutting-edge Florentine designers whose innovations elevated Florence to its high fashion status.

Where to begin? How about the Sala Bianca in Palazzo Pitti, where the first fashion shows in Florence were held in 1951.

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Guccio Gucci, 1881- 1953

Specialty: Bags

Trivia: Worked at the Savoy Hotel in London as a boy. Inspired by the fashionable high-class lifestyle of luxury travel, Gucci returned to his home of Florence and began a leather company, crafting high-end bags and travel accessories.

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Jackie Kennedy carrying the bag Gucci bag she inspired.

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The Gucci Museum opened in Piazza della Signoria in 2011.


Salvatore Ferragamo 1898- 1960

Specialty: Shoes

Trivia: Responsible for many shoe innovations, such as the wedge. He personally designed shoes for many celebrities, including Audrey Hepburn and Marilyn Monroe.

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Emilio Pucci 1914 – 1992

Specialty: Kaleidoscope-like prints

Trivia: Pucci belonged to one of the oldest noble families in Florence. He was a staunch supporter of the Fascist movement.


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Emilio Pucci designs featured on Baptistry Scaffolding, photo from Facebook, The Florentine

Emilio Pucci designs featured on Baptistery scaffolding, photo credit: The Florentine


Roberto Cavalli, 1940 – 

Specialty: Bold patterns and Sand-Blasted Jeans

Trivia: Cavalli’s father is fashion designer Danielle Cavalli.

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Pitti Uomo, 1972 –

Today Florence’s primary fashion scene revolves around the international men’s fashion event – Pitti Uomo, held twice a year.

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…but we figure you’ll be getting an eyeful of male models in Florence this week, so instead, let’s let the ladies take the limelight here at Florence for Free.Screen Shot 2014-06-19 at 12.09.50 AM

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Lessons at modeling school 

Now you want to go shopping, right? If you’re like us, the designer duds may not be in your travel budget, but you can do some serious window shopping and live the history with Meg’s guided walk along the city’s unofficial runway – Via Tornabuoni.



  1. Great post and photos! Makes me want to put on something fancy this morning!

  2. Lovely post and the photos are wonderful!

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