Palazzo Mocenigo, where the history of fashion in Venice is told

11 October 2022

Venice, 10 October 2022 – Talking about fashion means touching transversally all those aspects that affect the life of every person. And talking about fashion in Venice means investigating a story of commerce, of distant routes, of sea and ships, of customs, of society, of pomp and laws to limit them. The museum of Palazzo Mocenigo – Centro Studi di Storia del Tessuto, del Costume e del Profumo is only venue in Italy and Europe where the visitors can catapult into the magnificent atmosphere of the 18th century Venetian on the first floor, deepen some issues in the library of the mezzanine dedicated specifically to fashion and possibly have the opportunity to see 20 thousand artifacts preserved in the warehouse on the third floor.


Fashion has a huge meaning for Venice, when the Serenissima is able to obtain the monopoly of silk from Byzantium understands from the beginning that silk is easy to carry almost like perfumes and is a material of great value that everyone desires, because with silk we make clothes and it represent us, identify who we are in the immediacy, identify our role – explains the director of the Museum, Chiara Squarcina – today we entrust this task to social networks, but in the past clothing was crucial and indispensable”.


This story developed in the early 1300s, when the skilled weavers from Lucca came in large numbers to the lagoon and brought with them the processing of velvet, of which they were authentic masters.


This means that Venice not only produces the fabrics that are required by the market but also produces fabrics that have a characteristic that others do not have, durability – continues Squarcina – it should be remembered that at the end of the fourteenth century the outfit of a nobleman and a noblewoman was identified in 4 or 5 dresses, no more”.


Also, Venice protected its workers, the category and the production with mariegole that set the standards of the quality of the fabric that, if they did not correspond, was publicly burned in Rialto.


The Sun King revolutionizes everything and invents so to speak “consumerism”, with him in fact the kit will go from 4 to 240 dresses – continues Squarcina – it’s a tremendous gap, it means that I no longer care to have a durable fabric and Venice, which will always remain granite in its position, will support this trade towards Cyprus and the East where the fabrics have their durability and consistency. While in the West it becomes almost bulimic respect for Fashion, styles, colors, to give more and more an image of his nobility that was to represent wealth through clothing”.


And if the dress represented, especially in the past, a distinctive element of recognition, the Serenissima will try to contain as much as possible, through the suntuary laws, the abuse of pomp and economic investments for the purchase of women’s and men’s clothing both out of respect for the poorest and because it was wanted that the nobles invested in something else instead of the voluptuary.


On the first floor of the museum are exhibited, in rotation, the artifacts preserved in the deposits.


It is a great heritage that we keep in the deposits, which are open and can be visited precisely because we cannot expose everything, we give the opportunity to anyone to view the clothes, to study the seams, the cut, the sleeves – concludes Squarcina – keeping them sheltered is a way to prolong their life, even if we then cyclically expose them following the concept that the museum is the place where I teach what has been and where I learn for the future. The restoration of textiles and the preservation of fabrics, moreover, is a very recent approach because it is only at the end of the nineteenth century that it is understood that to tell a story there is a need for the visual context”.