Live in Milan for a few years, and you’ll begin to reshape your cultural icons and local heroes. Here it is undeniable that Milan & Maria Callas share an inextricable link, and one that cannot be severed. With every passing of a Callascentric event, the city of Milan commemorates appropriately, leaving 2007 – the 30th anniversary of Callas’s passing – duly celebrated. Accordingly, Milan’s Museo di Storia Contemporanea on via Sant'Andrea 6 is running an exhibit titled, “Divina! Maria Callas tra Moda e Mito” (Between Style and Myth), an exploration of fashion, costume, and the diva style of la Callas. The exhibition opened a few days ago, and runs until January 20, 2008. It's totally free, and open Tuesday - Sunday from noon to 7pm.
(Image from within the exhibition "Divina! Maria Callas tra Moda e Mito")
The city of Milan asked a selection of 23 of the most prestigious modern fashion designers to tap into the myth of one of the greatest opera singers of the twentieth century, and to freely design for Maria Callas a gown or outfit based on her most laudable qualities, as an icon of style, in either contemporary or classic style, to showcase her beauty and elegance. The task was to present a dress that Maria would have worn on stage, on vacation, at a party socializing with her admirers…something pulled from their collective imagination or created in a fantasy. For instance, Angela Missoni was most enamored with Maria's "lean, sophisticated, statuesque" form, and evoked these attributes in her design, a column-like ribbon gown. Other artists who participated were Emilio Pucci, Etro, the house of Gianni Versace, Gucci, Gianfranco Ferré, Laura Biagiotti, Missoni, Prada, Roberto Cavalli, Trussardi, and Valentino.
(A screenshot from Pasolini's Medea)
Each artist gave a statement about la Callas, and the words hung on wall text behind each gown. John Richmond wrote, "Maria Callas, a marvelous talent and a disarming beauty. Her artistic achievements were so complex that it is difficult to find a significant synthesis of her style. An eclecticism in her image, a pure reflection of that voice, has left an immense heritage of incredible inspiration to rework."
(Quote from Giuseppe Di Stefano: "She wanted to become perfect, the queen of the jet set. She wanted to be the most beautiful woman in the world, but behind it all she lived waiting for love.")
Speakers that run throughout the gorgeous & pristine exhibition space pump la Callas's arias overhead, and there are two multimedia displays: the first is a slide show of intimate and personal snapshots (we see the chunky teenage Maria, and loads of young Maria in family portraits), and the second is a large projection of behind-the-scenes during the filming of Pier Paolo Pasolini's Medea. Also stenciled to the wall were quotes on la Divina from those closest to her: Giuseppe Di Stefano, Franco Zeffirelli (our Frengo compares her to Michelangelo! GO FRENGO), Biki, and Luchino Visconti.
Below, find a tiny selection of the marvelousness that you find in the exhibit (which, for the record, all looked amazingly hawter in person). ONTO THE GOWNS!!!!!!!
(Above: A close-up of Roberto Cavalli's dream for la Callas)
(Above: Prada's cape and short dress...it was made of all black feathers, delicate jewels, all meshed onto the most transparent veiling. But because of the weird tungsten+natural light, the camera captured it in purple. This one was like 100% more stunning in person, by far one of OC's favorite, think shiny deep black.)
(Above: Trussardi's red red red gown in leather and silk)
(Above: Gattinoni's crazy insane creation)
(Above: Next to the Pucci, Cavalli)
(Above: another fabulous creation)
(Above: A gorgeous satin and fur gown)
(Above: This is one we really could have imagined la Callas in.)
(Above: This one is from Etro, click for bigger. The image on the right is a view from the backside of the fur shawl)
(Above: John Richmond's take on la Callas, note the trademark S&M metal chain and cross: la Maria will whip you into submission, and if you happen to prefer La Tebaldi, off with your head!)