GORIZIA: The Museum of Fashion and Applied Arts turns 20!

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Born on December 3, 1999, the Museum of Fashion and Applied Arts of Gorizia (1)celebrates the his twentieth birthday! The extraordinary continuous development of this museum, which collects the precious legacy of Giovanni Cossàr (1873-1927), is due to the support, the commitment, the intuition and the competence of those who have made it grow and are guiding it firmly, with  passion and determination. Cossàr, a scholar, collector and art lover, was the promoter and the first director of the Civic Museum of Gorizia, established in 1909 with the aim of demonstrating the Italian character of the Isonzo capital, documented by important ethnographic collections which were collected, valorised and made available to the community to “give prestige to the city ​​and educating the people to the sense of art”.

1) Gorizia, Museum of Fashion and Applied Arts, Trieste 2005. The headquarters are in Borgo Castello, in the sixteenth-century houses Dornberg and Tasso and in the nearby Palazzo Formentini (17th century).

Museum deposits – Copyright Carmen Romeo

Detail of the bodice of a late nineteenth century dress

The protagonist of the Gorizia textile collections is silk. In the eighteenth century, the counties of Gorizia and Gradisca, at that time governed by the Empire Habsburg,  had a strong economic, social and cultural impulse thanks to prospering of the silk industry strongly supported by Empress Maria Theresa of Austria (1717-1780).

At the beginning the “smooth drapes” were woven (homogeneous-looking fabrics, plain colors without decorations, rasi “amoeri” moires), the “scajoni” (diagonals, thorns), but later also those more  elaborated (damasks, brocades, drapes for the use of France). It is no coincidence that one of the first donations is an extraordinary sample of silk, 753 small fragments, originally sewn together as in a precious patchwork, known with the curious name of “Seculin blanket”(2)

2)  The heirs of Ludovico Seculin, a well-known textile trade active in Gradisca and Gorizia at the end of the nineteenth century, donated at the beginning of the twentieth century the “blanket” at the new Civic Museum of Gorizia.

First visitors after the lockdown caused by the coronavirus epidemic, in front of the circular silk twisting machine (18th century)

Even the traditional Gorizia costume, called tabìn (women’s party dress) is in taffeta of silk,  unlike other costumes in Friuli, where the use of silk in clothing is limited  to the handkerchief (for head or shoulders) or to a few ribbons.

Upon entering the museum, the visitor is conquered by a beautiful  multimedia video that illustrates in an unconventional and extremely involving way the important exhibitions over the years, to name a few: 2004, ROBERTO CAPUCCI, Creativity beyond the boundaries of fashion; 2006, MISSONI KALEIDOSCOPE; 2018,OCCIDENTALISM. Modernity and western art in kimonos. 1900-1950.

3) Videos made by CamerAnebbia

Multimedia installation, the images that flow on the wall animate the costume gallery

To celebrate the museum’s twenty years, in addition to the new layout, full of multimedia interventions, a path was created between lines, paintings and flowers, familiar motifs that decorate the fabrics forever. In addition to the artifacts, the museum displays important machinery including the twisting circular silk machine (stuarsidor, XVIII century, one of a kind): a monumental cylindrical cage of about three by two meters, used to twist hundreds of silk threads and make thus the yarn as robust as possible.

Continuing the visit, in the rooms of the museum, a traditional horizontal domestic heddle  frame, present in the past in almost all houses, refers to women and the hours spent lovingly weaving canvases for the trousseau or for the home.

Finally, the restoration and conservation work reserved for the monitored collections is highlighted continuously, exposed to rotation and kept in deposits equipped with structures and cutting edge materials.

4) While outside some women operated the machine, inside a person, pushing backwards with their feet rotated the twisting machine; this work was sought after by the tailors, because while they were pushing, they could sew. Further information on this and other topics on silk in Gorizia in: Il Filo Lucente, silk production and the fashion market in Gorizia 1725-1915, Maria Masau Dan and Lucia Pillon (edited by), Mariano del Friuli (Gorizia), 1993.

Image from the video illustrating the Exhibition – L’Atelier degli Oscar. The costumes of the Tirelli tailoring for great cinema – year 2009

A video introduces the visit to the world of the Museum of Fashion and Applied Arts of Gorizia

The leadership of the many initiatives and activities is mainly by Raffaella Sgubin, Superintendent of the Provincial Museums of Gorizia, to which our admiration, esteem and gratitude go.

The photographs are by Carmen Romeo

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