The First Exhibition

20 years of contemporary fashion evolution

An extraordinary opportunity to explore rare early creations by some of the most talented fashion, accessory and jewellery designers of the last two decades. On display, close to 100 garments, accessories, photographs and creative projects touching all continents - from Italy to Korea and Japan - selected by one of fashion’s premier historians and curators.

Curated by Olivier Saillard

Tuesday, 18 April 2023 — Sunday, 4 February 2024
Thursday to Monday: 10 am to 6 pm - last entry 5 pm
Via della Cassa di Risparmio 10, Trieste


The First Exhibition – 20 Years of Contemporary Fashion Evolution is a journey into the untold history of contemporary fashion over the past two decades and a glimpse into our future. Guest curator is Olivier Saillard, renowned fashion historian and former Director of the Palais Galliera in Paris.

ITS Arcademy’s inaugural exhibition explores the early creative genius of some of the most exciting fashion, accessories and jewellery designers on the international scene, many of which are now well known within the industry – like Balenciaga’s Demna, Bottega Veneta’s Matthieu Blazy or trailblazer Richard Quinn, – recipient of the inaugural Queen Elizabeth II Award for Design. 

The rarity and artistic value of the artworks on display derive from the fact that these creations – gathered in the course of two decades by Barbara Franchin through international talent competition ITS Contest offer a glimpse into creative beginnings, pre-dating commercial activity. Presented in the crates that usually transport and protect fragile travelling art from one exhibition to another, they are raw, unbridled and charged with creative energy, a representation of the Art that Fashion constitutes a legitimate part of.  

The exhibition is organised into six sections, each representing a universal artistic theme or current that transcends the designs’ geographical origin of or year of creation: Expressionists, Neo Futurists, Lyrical Abstractions, Art Brut, Free Figuration, and Self-Portrait.

Over 100 works are exhibited in what Olivier Saillard defines as “the first fashion museum entirely dedicated to the most contemporary forms and expressions of our age”. These include creative portfolios, garments, accessories and photographs: 

This unique collection deserves to aspire to universality as it mirrors the highest expression of contemporary creativity. With 14,758 portfolios, 1,089 dresses, 163 accessories, 118 pieces of jewellery and more than 700 photographic projects, this constantly growing heritage, to which new and valuable items are constantly being added, can compete with the collections of the world’s greatest museums.

Olivier Saillard

ITS Arcademy

Part creative Archive and part Academy, ITS Arcademy – Museum of Art in Fashion is the first museum of contemporary fashion in Italy and the first entirely dedicated to the most contemporary forms and expressions of our age – experimental, radical, artistic.

It is a forward-thinking cultural destination, with a developing programme of exhibitions, events, projects and educational experiences aimed at fostering creativity.

The ITS Arcademy permanent collection is unique in the world and has been built over the 20 editions of ITS Contest, one of the foremost international fashion competitions. ITS Arcademy preserves the early works of some of the most talented international fashion and accessory designers, many of whom are now well known. Among the notable ITS Contest alumni whose works are now part of the permanent Collection are  Matthieu Blazy, Creative Director of Bottega Veneta; Demna, Creative Director of Balenciaga; winner of Queen Elizabeth II’s inaugural Design Award Richard Quinn; Nicolas Di Felice, Artistic Director of Maison Courrèges; up-and-coming duo Chopova Lowena.

About the Curator

Olivier Saillard

Curator and fashion historian

Curator and Fashion Historian Olivier Saillard is an Art History graduate. In 1995, he was named director of the Musée de la Mode in Marseille, and in 2000, he became programme manager for fashion exhibitions at the Musée des Arts Décoratifs of Paris. In 2010 he was named director of the Palais Galliera, the fashion museum of the city of Paris. Since 2017, Saillard has been the director of the Fondation Alaïa, and since 2018, the Artistic, Image and Culture director of the maison J.M. Weston.

He has written several books including “Histoire idéale de la mode contemporaine” (Textuel, 2009), and curated major exhibitions, such as "Yohji Yamamoto. Juste des vêtements” and "Christian Lacroix. Histoire de vêtements" at the Musée des Arts Décoratifs; "Azzedine Alaïa" and "Jeanne Lanvin" at the Palais Galliera; "Madame Grès. La couture à l'œuvre," and "Balenciaga, l'œuvre au noir" at the Musée Bourdelle; and more recently, "Le musée éphémère de la mode" at the Palazzo Pitti in Florence. In 2005, Olivier Saillard was awarded the Villa Kujoyama residency in Kyoto.

He leads, in parallel to his work as a historian, a poetic reflection presented in the form of performance pieces: ”The Impossible Wardrobe”, “Eternity Dress” and “Cloakroom” with Tilda Swinton; “Models Never Talk”; “Sur-Exposition” with Charlotte Rampling and, again, with Tilda Swinton; “Couture Essentielle” and, “Embodying Pasolini”. In 2018, he created his first collection of haute couture t-shirts "Moda Povera" which is expanded upon every year using other types of ordinary clothes magnified by the savoir-faire techniques of couture.

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