Museum of Costume and Fashion

Hiddengallery for fashion lovers within the walls of Palazzo Pitti

If you have a passion for fashion or are looking for a unique gallery experience, Museum of Costume and Fashion (Museo della Moda e del Costume, formerly the Costume Gallery) is a captivating experience with glamorous gowns and accessories, from the 1500s to present day. Founded in 1983, as the first State-run museum in Italy dedicated to the history of fashion, you′ll find a treasure trove of pieces housed in the southern wing, Palazzina della Meridiana, of Palazzo Pitti.

The earliest pieces on display are the funeral clothing of Cosimo I de′ Medici, Eleonora of Toledo and their son Garzia de′ Medici that have been completely restored from their decayed 16th-century condition. Other garments include vintage Chanel, Gucci, Versace, and Prada, custom-made Florentine and Neapolitan bridal gowns and costume jewellery and accessories dating from the 18th century. Many of the pieces are borrowed from the private collections of Italian personalities in fashion and art. The mannequins used to display each outfit have been custom-made to fit the garment′s original owner. Also featured are design sketches and drawings to tell the design tale of the garments on display.

About Palazzo Pitti

Originally built by banker Luca Pitti in the 15th century, Palazzo Pitti was purchased in 1550 by Eleanor of Toledo, wife of Grand Duke Cosimo I de′ Medici, who desired a more modern home away from the ′old′ apartments of Palazzo Vecchio. They doubled the building in size to become the most grandiose palace in Florence, a symbol of their power and the new Grand Ducal residence. The facade is striking and imposing when approached from the palace entrance, its stone piazza a popular spot to sun yourself between gallery visits. Within Pitti are five museums, making it the largest exhibition complex in Florence. Treasury of the Grand Dukes has exquisite quadrature frescoes and priceless jewellery including 16th-century gems once belonging to Anna Maria Luisa de′ Medici. Upstairs is Gallery of Modern Art, Museum of Costume and Fashion, and the Royal and Imperial Apartments, kept in their original 18th-century style since the House of Lorraine– Habsburg called Pitti home. In the Palatine Gallery 500 masterpieces by Raphael, Titian, Caravaggio and Rubens, once part of the Medici collection, hang in ostentatiously decorated rooms. Napoleon, in his quest to expand the French Empire, used the palace as his Florence base between 1799 and 1814 (his private bathroom remains) while out back, the Boboli Gardens is a green respite from the city′s cobbled streets.

Photo credit: Beatrice Mancini