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On Cities on Clothes: Moschino ‘Cruise me Baby’ collections

Cities hold a pivotal role in the fashion system. Not only because of their position as catalysts in the production, promotion and distribution of fashion; also, in their being the places where fashion, as a social phenomenon, blossoms, being shaped by the identity of the city itself and by that of its Inhabitants.

The specificities of each city allow to consider its active role in the creative process, and most of the times the stereotype becomes the basis on which to work in order to reinvent itself without forgetting the roots. The central importance of the city, as a set of special features and history, is clear in the words of the storyteller as well as in the mind of the image-maker, who builds an aesthetic on the glimpses and perspectives that can be encountered while wandering around.

Jacket from Moschino 'Cruise me Baby' collection, S/S 1993, Courtesy Galleria del Costume di Palazzo Pitti

Sometimes, cities are de-materialised – and then re-materialised again – during the creative process, and end to become messages inscribed on the clothes. Many are the designers who used cities on their clothes, rethinking them as embroideries, prints, patterns; the cities used to ‘inspire’ the designs are never chosen without a real reason: most of the times, it is for the kind of atmosphere they evoke, and for the bond the designer has with that particular place. This is what happened with Moschino and the ‘Cruise me Baby’ collections of the first half of the 1990s.

Moschino launched its ‘Cruise me Baby’ line at the beginning of the 1990s. Between 1991 and 1994, the collections were dedicated to some of the most important Italian cities; Naples, Venice, Florence, Pisa and Rome became flat patterns, or were sublimated in symbols to ornate jackets, waistcoats, shirts and dresses; Florence, for instance, was both represented as a landscape, displaying the sublime architecture of the city and its amazing panorama, and as sign, the lily, historical symbol of the city, multiplied as a quasi-geometric pattern, next to black and white squares and dreamy clouds.

Jacket from Moschino 'Cruise me Baby' collection, S/S 1993, Courtesy Galleria del Costume di Palazzo Pitti

The style of the collections was true to the identity of the brand: a familiar cheekiness, refined in its being overtly tacky. The designs were also a love letter to Italy, celebrating the many faces of a Country that made of its regional diversities its strength, playing on the differences to build a varied international recognisability.

The clothes Moschino designed can be considered like postcards: they can be seen as patriotic banners to be preserved and showcased, or they can be a more intimate object, whose material qualities can hold memories and recall sensations. In both ways, the city itself becomes the message, and the use of the object comes after the meaning the wearer gives to the city he or she has decided to wear.

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