“Twenty-seven years old, Pisces”, are the first things Walter Albini says about himself with a smile. This designer and stylist […] prefers prêt-à-porter because it moves towards life, because it’s for all women and helps them not have to sacrifice - let’s say a nice trip for a dress”.
That was how Vogue Italia introduced Walter Albini in October 1967 and the words allude to the creative power that would transform WA into the protagonist of the Italian prêt-à-porter revolution. It was the beginning: Albini’s parabola would end soon, too soon, in 1983, but the designer’s personal and creative career contained all the traits that define those years.
“All power to the imagination. Walter Albini and his times” reconstructs a period that witnessed the establishment of fashion as a basic element in representing contemporary society and culture and the definitive decline of the couture atelier with the rise of democratic fashion with the development of high quality series production. Walter Albini was one of the key figures of that period because he was fully aware of the need for change and innovation – not only in fashion’s form and style, but also in its way of communicating its rituals and mannerisms. Through the pages of magazines of the day, photographs and original drawings, the book captures the essence of the Albini style: the Gatsby look and a retrieval of the ‘twenties and ‘thirties with post-modern attitudes; attention to the imagery and settings that surrounded his clothes and became lifestyle elements; the development of brands – and Albini grasped their growing importance and the simultaneous construction of the Albini icon that easily found a place on the international scene with the leaders of the times such as Halston, Karl Lagerfeld, Yves Saint Laurent, and Ossie Clark.
The book is not a chronology of Walter Albini’s life. Rather, it is a portrait of a designer who, now more than ever, seems contemporary and current, a source of references for a new generation of fashion designers who look to him as a paragon of pure, crystalline talent, who was able to look at the history of fashion to create a new, revolutionary grammar to break with the past and find unexplored ways of presenting his collections.
His men’s non-collection for the summer of 1979 is crucial in this sense: it was an exhibit with twelve outfits shown on panels. The clothes he skillfully put together belonged to designer, photographer and journalist friends: “We have to learn the freedom of dressing outside the box. Consumerism produces objects, not styles. I look around, I choose, I combine and I present”.
With its wealth of images and texts the book presents a unique story, a fresco of the years that changed not only the history of Italian fashions, but the history of Italy as well. Albini’s words to Anna Piaggi concerning his 1979 spring/summer collection best convey his creative restlessness and his imaginative strength: “For me, each outfit tells a story, of love, of anger, of violence. Each one is a moment, a person, a place, and each has a role, like in a theater. To change clothes you have to change your attitude and spirit, and take on a new role. Every time, every season, every collection…...”.
“All power to the imagination. Walter Albini and his times” will be presented in the Saloncino da Ballo, Galleria del Costume with an exhibit showcasing images and elements of WA’s grammar.