Roberto Capucci : Biographical Notes
1930. Born in Rome on December the 2nd.
He attended the Italian Academy of Fine Arts, where he was taught by Mazzacurati, Avenali, de Libero.
l951. He opened his first atelier in Rome in Via Sistina.
He presented his models in Florence for the first time at the Villa of Marchese Giorgini obtaining great success and interest.
1952. The first fashion show at the ‘Sala Bianca’ of the Palazzo Pitti Museum in Florence. The lines of the creations were unusual and innovative.
1953. He invented the ‘Colomba Line’.
1955. He opened his couture salon in Via Gregoriana in Rome, which is still his creative centre. He launched the ‘Banjo Line’.
l956. He was acclaimed by the international press as the best creative designer of Italian Fashion. In the same year he received public congratulations from Christian Dior.
1958. He created the ‘Box Line’. It was a real revolution in the world of fashion regarding techniques, new styles and unusual ideas. Initially Italian critics were doubtful; however the success he achieved abroad drove the national press, which at the time was reluctant to accept new ideas, to change their opinion and acclaim Capucci. The ‘Box Line’ became a characteristic symbol throughout Capucci’s career, evolving throughout the years.
The top ranking department chain store of North America, Filene’s of Boston, gave an award every year for best style creators of the world. The international press called this award the “Oscar for Fashion”; in 1958 Roberto Capucci was given this award for Italy, Jim Galanos for the United States and Pierre Cardin for France.
l962. He opened an atelier in Paris in Rue Cambon. For the first Parisian collection he designed a “Double Triangle” coat, made of satin organza and “Butterfly” trousers made of satin organza with macro-flowers multi-colours. The city welcomed him with great enthusiasm and esteem, and the French press devoted extensive reviews to his work. He was the first Italian couturier to be asked to give his name to a perfume.
1964. Continuing with new inventions, he used frayed white cotton reps together with Givenchy, he designed a knee sock collection made of black wool with white bands against it.
1965. He created the “Optical Line”: inspired by “Op-Art”, the creations are made of white and black wool fabric with a perspective and movement effect, the clothing was designed with band weaves of several sizes, made of white and black satin.
1966. Plastic applications on hair, on shoe heels and inserted on the edge of the clothing, transparent “overcoat boxes”.
1968. He returned to Italy permanently, and set up his creative centre in Via Gregoriana in Rome; he presented his collections in the fashion calendar of the Camera Nazionale dell’Alta Moda.
1970. He travelled to India and this journey was to become a fundamental bookmark in his personal and creative life and an evolution towards a different and innovative style. He promoted local production giving his designs to the Indian women of a village in Rajastan.
1971. For the first time the style was presented in a museum: in Rome at the Museum of Etruscan Art of Valle Giulia; the collection revolutionized tradition completely, this represented a turning point. Creations inspired by Pre-Raphaelites painters, made with light wool with long hand-made stitches in gold and silver silk. Models without make-up, and unstyled hair.
1972. He designed straight tunic dresses with mini and short dresses.
1976. He designed pastel colours georgette dresses with silver and colour lacework, worn by the most famous actresses and singers of the time.
1977. The ‘Kimono Line’ made of printed silk, organza, dry wool and taffetas
1978. The “Colonna” dress made of white satin was a key element in the presentation and represented the beginning of the fabric sculpture phase. The doric column dress is a contributing factor to breaking with traditional tailoring; women who wore it were testimony of a historic symbol of decorations in the period during the same year, he also used different uncommon materials on his dresses, such as jute, straw, stones, cane: accessories mounted onto georgette bases made with cold and natural colours, sand, mud, Siena soil, and ochre. Capucci followed in the footsteps of “Arte Povera” artists. The experience he had as a young man at the Art Academy of Rome with maestros such as Mazzacurati, Avenali and de Libero, came immediately to mind and he started to feel more and more attracted to art.
1980. He resigned from the Italian Chamber of High Fashion and put on fashion shows on days established each time, “the city” said Roberto Capucci “is ready to welcome me”. That year he created the “Ventaglio”, which was a symbol of free creativity and experimental search. These unscheduled presentations, had the characteristic of a one-man exhibition, and came up against considerable resistance from Capucci’s most important audience. Capucci was opposed and sometimes even boycotted. However, the press could not stop talking about his performances that were always more and more astonishing with respect to their context.
1982. The first original show in Milan, at the Palazzo Visconti on the Carlo Erba Foundation. The creations of this collection were “Orange”, “Violoncello”, black angels, dresses made with dark red and purple taffetas with rose decorations inspired by 700’s costumes.
1983. In Tokyo he signed a licence contract with the Sumitomo Corporation
1984. At the Italian Embassy in Paris.
1985 / 1989. During this five-year period, in order to achieve Capucci’s recognition in the world of art, public relation tactics were devised, aimed at international institutional museums: participation in collective exhibitions that dealt with all decorative arts followed by donations:
“Varieté de la Mode 1786-1986”- Munich 1986, Münchner Stadtmuseum; “Sessant’anni di vita culturale in Italia” – New York 1986, Columbia University and Rome 1987, Palazzo Venezia Museum exhibition supervised by the Treccani Institute of Italian Encyclopedia; “Fashion and Surrealism” – New York 1987, Fashion Institute of Technology and London 1988, Victoria and Albert Museum.
1985. In New York at the Army National Guard Armory in Park Avenue – he presented the “Fuoco”, which is the extreme of the fabric sculpture idea, with the plissè volume facing up
1987. In Rome at the Sala Regia of the Palazzo Venezia Museum, he proposed a collection that gave rise to considerable clamour, with highly original music.
1989. In Rome on show in the National Gallery of Modern Art he established his new role as a dress sculptor.
1990. With the exhibition “Roberto Capucci l’Arte nella Moda – Volume, Colore e Metodo” in Palazzo Strozzi in Florence he began his exhibition season, which was to bring him great praise both from critics and the audience, in the most important museums of the world. The same exhibition was taken to Munich at the Münchner Stadtmuseum.
1991. In Vienna the exhibition “Roberto Capucci, Roben Wie Rüstungen” was mounted at the Kunsthistorisches Museum with fabric sculptures and ritual armours of the XV century and formal dresses of the XVIII century of the Habsburg Imperial Family. Capucci was made Honorary Partner of the Kunstlerhaus and the honour was conferred, this had already been conferred to Mirò, Tapies and Mondrian; exhibitions became Capucci’s new interest and attraction, and were created while thinking about the city that welcomed him and offered him honours and paid their respects.
1992. In Berlin at the Schauspielhaus theatre with the soloists of the Kammerensemble des Berliner Simphonie he presented his last collection after the Berlin wall came down, Capucci was invited to Erfurt in Thuringia to participate in the “Configura 1 Kunst in Europe” along with 350 artists from around the world: the “Quadrennial Exhibition of the Art of Soviet Socialist Countries” was replaced by the “Triennial International Exhibition of Applied Arts”.
1995. The “Venice Biennale” invited Capucci to participate at the celebration of the Centennial International Exhibition of Visual Arts along with 20 other artists. Capucci made twelve works of ‘Textile Architecture’ as requested by the Director of the Biennale and these were exhibited in the Italian Pavilion. His ‘Textile Architecture’ was exhibited around the World thereafter .
A cycle came to an end and a new era arrived: the participation in the imaging of international events changed Capucci’s role, being considered the messenger and a symbol of Italian creativity
1994 /2005. A “Great Exhibition” period:
· Rome 1994. Palazzo delle Esposizioni
· Montefalco (Perugia) 1994. Church of San Francesco, Arte e colore senza tempo
· Parma 1996. Palazzo della Pilotta Theatre Farnese, Roberto Capucci al Teatro Farnese. In difesa della bellezza
· Rome 2000. Palazzo Colonna, L’Elogio della Bellezza
· Venice 2001. Tese Cinquecentesche dell’Arsenale, Roberto Capucci Creatività al di là del tempo e Tokyo 2002, Park Hyatt Ozone Hall
· Stockholm 2001. Nordiska Museet, Roberto Capucci – Mode som Konst
· Madrid 2002. Sala de Exposiciónes de la Fundación Santander-Central Hispano, Vestidos y armaduras – Roberto Capucci – Moda de ayer y hoy en seda y acero
· Varese 2003. Villa Panza di Biumo, Roberto Capucci – Lo stupore della forma
· Gorizia 2004. Provincial Museum Palazzo Attems-Petzenstein Borgo Castello, Roberto Capucci – Arte e creatività oltre i confini della moda
· Hasselt 2005. Limburg belga, Stedelijk Modemuseum, Verlufende Modesculpturen- Stupefacenti sculture di Moda
2005 / 2006. Together with the Associazione Civita – which has been in charge of the development of Italian cultural heritage for about 20 years – he funded the Roberto Capucci Foundation with the objective of preserving the Archive – which consists in about 400 historical dresses, 300 signed illustrations, 22.000 original sketches, a complete press review from the beginning of his career together with a vast selection of photographs and films -, promoting high quality craftsmanship and selecting new talents and helping them professionally.
The Villa Bardini of Florence in Oltrarno was to be the seat of the Foundation: Capucci returned to where he started and re-launched his challenge giving his own seal of approval for new creations.
2007. A preview of the Roberto Capucci Museum’s activities was organized in Florence at Villa Bardini where the Museum of the Foundation was established. This event was organized together with Ente Cassa di Risparmio di Firenze and Pitti Immagine.