May 22, 2023
Contemporary fashion finally has its own museum: the ITS Arcademy Museum of Art in Fashion, which has just opened in Trieste. This centre, dedicated to creativity, is the latest project created by Barbara Franchin, founder of the “International Talent Support (ITS)” competition for young designers in 2002, to house the archives and the community that has grown up around the event over the past twenty years. For the occasion, an exhibition by French fashion historian Olivier Saillard on “the evolution of twenty years of contemporary fashion” was unveiled, while the next edition of the competition was launched.
Entries are open until September 10. The finalists will be announced in November, with the final being held in March 2024, on the occasion of the opening of the second exhibition housed at the ITS Arcademy. The competition finalists will for the first time benefit from a creative residency within the new structure and their creations will become part of the museum’s permanent collection, the organisers say in a statement.
The collection has been built up over the years through the inventive portfolios sent in by aspiring designers from around the world to take part in the ITS competition, as well as the designs they have created for the occasion, with the organisers retaining a silhouette from each of the finalist’s collections. “Barbara Franchin was right to insist on keeping a look. These pieces from a very first collection usually disappear. In general, they are given away, forgotten,” observes Olivier Saillard, who was able to draw on this priceless treasure trove of 14,758 portfolios, 1,089 garments, 163 accessories, 118 pieces of jewellery and 700 photographic projects for this first exhibition.
Among the designers, many of whom have made a name for themselves in the fashion world, such as Matthieu Blazy, a finalist in 2006, who is now head of style at Bottega Veneta, the creative director of Courrèges, Nicolas Di Felice, from the 2007 edition, and Alithia Spuri-Zampetti, finalist in 2008, former creative director of Paule Ka, now associate head of design at Alexander McQueen, Richard Quinn, finalist of the 2015 edition, who shows in London, and Demna, Balenciaga’s creative designer and winner of the 2004 competition.
“The portfolios are impressive. They are albums of ideas, of fantasies. Some of them are like works of art. We see their dreams up close, before they are distorted by fashion and the industry. These are twenty years of contemporary fashion that could teach us a lesson in fashion. It’s an exceptional fashion laboratory for the future. There is a real heritage. It’s unique in the world,” continues the historian, who has built his exhibition around different themes, from neo-futurism to lyrical abstractions, choosing models “oscillating between art and fashion, incredible headdresses and crazy accessories.
The museum is funded by the region. It is housed in a historic palace in the centre of Trieste, made available by the Fondazione CRTrieste (the foundation of the city’s savings bank), one of the competition’s historic sponsors. The building, which employs about thirty people, will house not only the museum and archives, but also the new headquarters of ITS and the creative activities of Arcademy. The idea, in fact, is to offer creative workshops to all publics. “A bit like the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York, which brings together museum and school, but in a smaller version,” Olivier Saillard emphasises.
“ITS Arcademy should not be a place for the elite, but a place open to all. With the help of former finalists in our competition, we have developed some thirty educational protocols, courses lasting from an hour and a half to six months, designed for children and students,” explains Barbara Franchin, who is already working on a new project. “The next madness is to create a festival of creativity, a moment of sharing with everyone, which would be held in the summer, with our competition in parallel,” she confides.
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