The cultural revolution of Italian fashion in America

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Milana Pogretskaia, Staff Writer

The “Made in Italy, Sold in America” exhibit takes a deep dive into exploring the cultural revolution of fashion and tells the story of what happened to Attenzione magazine. 

Attenzione, meaning attention or focus in Italian, was meant for the readership of the elite and was first published in the United States in the early ‘80s. It was launched by Luigino “Jeno” Francesco Paulucci, who started 70 companies, including Paulucci Publications, through which he launched his magazine. The whole purpose of the publication was to pass on the cultural heritage and history of Italy to the United States. It included a variety of different sections and topics, including food, society, politics, the arts and fashion.

Two years after its launch, the Attenzione was highlighted in The New York Times in an article published in 1981 for surviving “19 issues in an area where others could not make it to six.” For those fortunate enough to be involved, it was a moment of pride and the beginning of several success stories, being that many of today’s well-known Italian designers were published on the magazine’s cover. Nevertheless, some readers were unhappy about the way fashion was handled by the magazine, as they didn’t believe that it truly captured Italian culture the way they had hoped it would. Despite this, Italian fashion became one of the most notable topics, introducing Americans to some of the world’s most influential designers, like Gianni Versace and Franco Moschino.  

Throughout the exhibit, viewers are able to browse different issues of Attenzione magazine as well as gain an understanding of the history and development of the fashion industry as a whole. The ‘80s were a time when there were lots of contradictory messages about womanhood and the consumption of both fashion and food. While women were facing gender inequality and discrimination, the industry began to grow as they began to find a place in society. This cultural revolution was propelled by the fashion industry, especially as many Italian designs started to be considered luxury around the world due to their excellence in creativity and craftsmanship. 

“Made in Italy, Sold in America” was put together by NYU, with Marcella Martin as its main curator. Throughout her career, she has worked on publications on clothing and Italian fashion. Martin received a B.A. in Italian Language and Literature from the College of the Holy Cross in Worcester, MA. Since then, she has also obtained her MA in Costume Studies at NYU and is currently serving on the Board of the Costume Society of America. Martin now is a Ph.D. Candidate at the Department of Italian Studies at NYU. 

Open until May 5, visitors are invited to immerse themselves in Italian fashion culture and its revolution by learning about the history and fate of the Attenzione magazine. Open on weekdays, it welcomes all students, especially those interested in fashion or journalism-related fields at NYU’s Casa Italiana Zerilli-Marimò. For anyone wishing to attend, the exhibit is free, with the option of booking a guided tour with its curator.