How it all began
The curtain was raised on the Milan Fair in 1920 as a leading stage for Italian industry. A platform on which to bring together supply and demand, and showcase the technological progress made in every field of industry and within the production line itself, from semi-finished goods to final products.
Modelle alla sfilata di moda della Italrayon alla Fiera Campionaria di Milano del 1934 (1934/04/24) by Argo Agenzia FotograficaFondazione Fiera Milano
Exhibiting at the Fair was the final, crowning moment of a long process—a fortnight in which exhibitors of all walks, from the big industrial manufacturer to the small family-owned business, could show off a sample of their hard work.
Milano nel Mondo. Ufficiale della Fiera di Milano. Anno VIII. Numero 16 (05 maggio 1928)Fondazione Fiera Milano
Pubblicità cappelli Borsalino (agosto 1946)Fondazione Fiera Milano
In this setting, the textiles & clothing industry played a major role at the Fair from the very beginning, while the Fair did much to launch the fashion industry in Italy. Fashion parades are the final, crowning moment for fashion houses.
Sfilate di moda al Mias Mercato Italiano dell'Articolo Sportivo alla Fiera di Milano nel 1963 Sfilate di moda al Mias Mercato Italiano dell'Articolo Sportivo alla Fiera di Milano nel 1963 (22/03/1963 - 25/03/1963) by PublifotoFondazione Fiera Milano
From as far back as 1924, the Milan Fair dedicated a special pavilion exclusively to the presentation of Italy’s emerging fashion sector and to French haute couture. The “Theatre of Fashion” at the Milan Fair reflects in its very name the way garments were presented in the 1920s, front-on at centre stage, before the advent of runways.
Interno del primo Mercato della Maglieria Italiana alla Fiera di Milano nel 1964 (01/03/1964 - 05/03/1964) by Non identificatoFondazione Fiera Milano
Presentazioni di moda al Mias Mercato Italiano dell'Articolo Sportivo alla Fiera di Milano nel 1963 Presentazioni di moda al Mias Mercato Italiano dell'Articolo Sportivo alla Fiera di Milano nel 1963 (22/03/1963 - 25/03/1963) by Non identificatoFondazione Fiera Milano
Fashion in Milan (1957)Fondazione Fiera Milano
Runways and parades
Runways made their first appearance at the fair in the 1930s, with garments paraded on catwalks raised above the level of the Fair’s adoring crowds.
Sfilata di moda alla Fiera di Milano Sfilata di moda alla Fiera di Milano (1957) by Non identificatoFondazione Fiera Milano
Fashion parades at the Milan Fair were an early example of fashion houses coordinating their shows. The Fair Board’s official journal featured editorials by Vittorio Montano, director of the fashion house Ventura and the Italian High Fashion Syndicate, as well as in-depth coverage of the shows written by the scathing pen of Lydia De Liguoro.
Under the auspices of the newly established National Fashion Agency, in 1936, a second pavilion was opened at the Milan Fair to cover a broader panorama of textile goods and clothing, offering, together with the Theatre of Fashion, a full overview of the sector.
Veduta esterna del Teatro della moda alla Fiera di Milano Veduta esterna del Teatro della moda alla Fiera di Milano (1924-1927 ca.) by Non identificatoFondazione Fiera Milano
From the 1930s to the outbreak of the war, the big Rayon, Vesta, Snia viscosa, and De Angeli Frua pavilions showcased at the Fair the very best of their collections—a home-grown glory for the delight of the regime.
Sfilata di alta moda nel padiglione della Italviscosa alla Fiera Campionaria di Milano del 1948 (post 1948/04/29 - ante 1948/05/16) by Ancillotti & MartinottiFondazione Fiera Milano
A new concept of fashion
In the postwar era, the Milan Fair returned to its original mission, opening up again to the international sphere.
Fotomodelle del set fotografico della rivista "Costume" alla Fiera Campionaria di Milano del 1957 (4/24/1957) by Ancillotti & MartinottiFondazione Fiera Milano
For the Italian fashion industry, however, the fair’s timing in April and the unstoppable growth of the various industry sectors as they branched out into new fields left it little room to express itself fully within the space of the Milan Fair.
Sfilata di moda nell'ambito della Mostra della pellicceria nel palazzo delle nazioni alla Fiera Campionaria di Milano del 1949 (post 1949/04/12 - ante 1949/04/29) by Ancillotti & MartinottiFondazione Fiera Milano
In 1978, the first two editions were held of a new specialist trade show, Modit, promoted by the industrial associations of clothing and knitwear manufacturers and focused on the international presentation of women’s collections.
The shows were designed specially to showcase to the world the quality excellence achieved by small and medium manufacturers and craft enterprises.
A unique bond
Over the years, the stunning success of Italian fashion designers and the growing number of specialist haute couture and ready-to-wear fashion events have attracted growing interest from industry players and the specialist industry press in Fiera Milano.
Interno del Mias Mercato Italiano dell'Articolo Sportivo alla Fiera di Milano nel 1964 Interno del Mias Mercato Italiano dell'Articolo Sportivo alla Fiera di Milano nel 1964 (14/03/1964 - 17/03/1964) by Non identificatoFondazione Fiera Milano
Through the international resonance it created, the Fair did much to foster the success of Italian fashion designers and the Made in Italy label, tying its name to a creative energy and industry potential so very different to the other achievements of the Milan Fair and other specialist trade shows.
Modelle alla Fiera Campionaria di Milano del 1951 (post 1951/01 - ante 1951/04/12) by Non identificatoFondazione Fiera Milano
In 1986, the bond between the Fair and Fashion was further sealed with the staging at the “Great April Fair” of the show “Italy, Genius of Fashion”, a historical and critical exhibition of Italian fashion curated by the journalist Pia Soli. For one hundred years, Milan’s fairgrounds have been the home of Italian fashion.
Pubblicità tessuti Marzotto (luglio 1948)Fondazione Fiera Milano
This story has been created in collaboration with Promemoria Group.
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