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Italian fashion is amongst the world's most important fashion designs, such as those of France, USA, Great Britain and Japan. Fashion has always been an important part of the culture of Italy, and its society. Italian designs began become one of Europe's main trendsetters eversince the 11th-16th centuries, when artistic developement in Italy was at its peak. Cities such as Venice, Milan, Florence and Vicenza started to produce luxury goods, hats, cosmetics, jewelry and rich fabrics. During the 17th-early 20th centuries, Italian fashion lost its importance, and Europe's main trendsetter became France, as French fashion began to become hugely popular, eversince luxury dresses began to be designed for the courtiers of Louis XIV. However, since the 1951-53 fashion soirées held by Giovanni Battista Giorgini in Florence, the "''Italian school''" started to compete with the French ''haute couture'', as labels such as Ferragamo and Gucci began to contend with Chanel and Dior. Currently, Milan, (Italy's center of design) is considered the true fashion capital of the world, according to the 2009 Global Language Monitor, and Rome ranked 4th. Both these cities annually compete with other major international centres, such as Paris, New York, London and Tokyo.
Examples of major Italian fashion houses are: Gucci, Armani, Emilio Pucci, Valentino, Prada, Dolce & Gabbana, Ferragamo, Roberto Cavalli, Trussardi, Versace, Krizia, Etro, Miu Miu, Laura Biagiotti, Max Mara, Fendi, Moschino, Missoni, Benetton and Brioni (fashion), to name a few. Italy also is home to many fashion magazines, such as Grazia, Vogue Italia, Vera, Chi, Gioia and Donna. Other Italian accessory and jewelry brands, such as Luxottica and Bulgari are amongst the most important in the world.
Fashion in Italy started to become the most fashionable in Europe since the 11th century, and powerful cities of the time, such as Venice, Milan, Florence, Vicenza and Rome began to produce robes, jewelry, textiles, shoes, fabrics, ornaments and elaborate dresses. Italian fashion reached its peak during the Renaissance. As Italy is widely recognized as the cradle and birthplace of the Renaissance, art, music, education, finance and philosophy flourished, and along with it, Italian fashion designs became immensly popular (especially those worn by the Medicis in Florence. The fashions of Queen Catherine de' Medici of France, were considered amongst the most fashionable in Europe). After a decline in the 17th to mid-20th century, the nation returned to being a leading nation in fasjion, and Florence was Italy's fashion capital in the 50s and 60s, whilst Milan led the way in the 70s and 80s, with then-new labels, such as Versace, Armani and Dolce & Gabbana opening up and setting up their first boutiques and emporia. Until the 1970s, Italian fashion was mainly designed for rich and famous people, more or less like the French "''Haute Couture''". Yet, in the 1970s and 80s, Italian fashion started to concentrate on ready-to-wear clothes, such as jeans, jumpers and miniskirts. Milan became more affordable and stylish for shoppers, and Florence was deposed of its position as the Italian fashion capital.
Today, Milan and Rome are Italy's fashion capitals, and are major international centres for fashion design, competing with other cities such as Tokyo, Los Angeles, London, Paris and New York. Also, other cities such as Venice, Florence, Naples, Vicenza, Bologna, Genoa and Turin are important centres. The country's main shopping districts are the Via Montenapoleone fashion district and the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele (Milan), Via dei Condotti (Rome), and Via de' Tornabuoni (Florence).
Some elegant shoes in a shop in Milan's presitigious Via Montenapoleone.
In 2009, Milan was regarded as the world fashion capital, even surpassing New York, Paris, Rome and London.
Most of the major Italian fashion brands, such as Valentino, Gucci, Versace, Prada, Armani and Dolce & Gabbana (to name a few), are currently headquartered in the city. Numerous international fashion labels also operate shops in Milan, including an Abercrombie & Fitch flagship store which has become a main consumer attraction. Milan also hosts a fashion week twice a year, just like other international centres such as Paris, London, Tokyo, New York, Los Angeles and Rome. Milan's main upscale fashion district is the "''quadrilatero della moda''" (literally, "fashion quadrilateral"), where the city's most prestigious shopping streets (Via Montenapoleone, Via della Spiga, Via Sant'Andrea, Via Manzoni and Corso Venezia) are held. The Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II, the Piazza del Duomo, Via Dante and Corso Buenos Aires are other important shopping streets and squares. Mario Prada, founder of Prada was even born here, helping to cultivate its position as a world fashion capital.
Luxury boutiques along Florence's prestigious Via de' Tornabuoni.
Florence being historically the first home of Italian fashion (the 1951–1953 soirées held by Giovanni Battista Giorgini are generally regarded as the birth of the ''Italian school'' as opposed to french ''haute couture'') is also home to the legendary Italian fashion establishment Salvatore Ferragamo, notable as one of the oldest and most famous Italian fashion houses. Many others, most of them now located in Milan, were founded in Florence. Gucci, Prada, Roberto Cavalli, and Chanel have large offices and stores in Florence or its outskirts. Florence's main upscale shopping street is Via de' Tornabuoni, where major luxury fashion houses and jewelry labels, such as Armani, Ferragamo and Bulgari, have their elegant boutiques
The Palazzo di Malta, surrounded by Hermès boutiques in Via Condotti, Rome's main upscale shopping street.
Rome is widely recognized as a world fashion capital. Although not as important as Milan, Rome is the world's 4th most important center for fashion in the world, according to the 2009 Global Language Monitor after Milan, New York and Paris, and beating London. Major luxury fashion houses and jewelry chains, such as Bulgari, Fendi,
Laura Biagiotti and Brioni (fashion), just to name a few, are headquartered or were founded in the city. Also, other major labels, such as Chanel, Prada, Dolce & Gabbana, Armani and Versace have luxury boutiques in Rome, primarily along its prestigious and upscale Via dei Condotti.
Image:BulgaristoreMilan.jpg|A Bulgari store in Milan
Image:Versace.jpg|Versace's boutique in Via Montenapoleone, Milan
Image:Prada milano.JPG|A Prada store in the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II, Milan
Image:Valentino dress for audrey hepburn.jpg|A Valentino dress for Audrey Hepburn
Image:Gucci No3.jpg|The Gucci no.3 fragrance
Image:HK Central Charter Road Salvatore Ferragamo 2.JPG|A Ferragamo boutique in Hong Kong
Image:Montenapoleone.jpg|A Louis Vuitton boutique in Milan, surrounded by several people, a Mercedes-Benz and a black Ferrari
Image:Benettonmilan.JPG|Windows of a Benetton boutique in Piazza del Duomo, Milan