ITS Arcademy Donations

ITS Arcademy Donations. Preserving creative heritage at ITS Arcademy.

03 January 2024


There is a specific point in time that marks the birth of the modern museum after centuries of private patronage of the arts by aristocrats, wealthy merchants, and landowners. In 1471, a donation by Pope Sixtus IV led to the creation of what would become the Musei Capitolini in Rome. By 1734, the complex had become the first public space designed for allowing common people to enjoy art. Donations of spaces and exhibits constitute the foundations of many of the world’s most beloved museums. The significance of donations remains key today, with archives and museums worldwide often reliant on the generosity of patrons who believe in preserving heritage for future generations.

The ITS Arcademy Collection has been built over 20 years through the preservation of works by ITS Contest finalists and continues to grow through material donations. It started as a collection of boxes in our original office location’s attic and is now 15000+ items strong, with a dedicated space and a professional team that plans and implements state of the art conservation protocols. 

Donations are a fundamental aspect of ITS Arcademy” says Barbara Franchin, President of Fondazione ITS and deus ex machina of the ITS ecosystem. “I am honoured and thankful for every single one of them, particularly by finalists who come back, see what we have created here and trust us to preserve their own creative work for the future. Much of our work is about expanding our ability to host an ever increasing number of works according to the highest conservation standards. I am already looking for those spaces. It’s part of the never-ending challenge of museum collections!” 

For emerging designers, finding adequate space and resources to store and protect their work is often challenging. Graduation collections frequently get misplaced, discarded, or irreparably damaged after press photoshoots. Donating their work to the museum ensures its professional restoration and protection. Many former ITS Contest finalists have placed their trust in us with the goal of preserving their collections. Simultaneously, ITS Arcademy actively seeks donations, reaching out to former finalists or contestants for specific pieces from their collections to fill gaps in our documentation of the evolution of contemporary fashion history.

Several donations from finalists have already been received. Here are some examples:

Susan Dimasi returned to Trieste from Australia in early 2023 to personally experience the opening of ITS Arcademy. On the occasion, she generously donated a selection of garments from her ITS 2008 collection and a subsequent production. Craftsmanship and a close focus on the wearer’s needs have been integral to Susan’s career from its inception. Her collaboration with Chantal McDonald for her ITS collection acted as a foundation for her brand, MaterialByProduct, in Australia.The intricate leather tattooing and handcrafted markings on black and white georgette and calico fabrics showcased her dedication to pioneering pattern cutting and size innovation within a framework ranging from size 38 to 48. Today, her brand resonates with a dedicated clientele seeking luxury bespoke pieces that are made to last.

ITS Collection outfit  by Susan Dimasi, ITS Contest 2008 finalist, on display in ITS Arcademy

Heaven Tanudiredja‘s remarkable craftsmanship astounded us when we first encountered him in 2006. What amazed us was his exceptional technical prowess, even before he commenced his studies in Antwerp, so much so that he achieved the unique distinction of being chosen twice for the ITS Contest. He notably stood as the sole individual to be selected in two distinct fields simultaneously – fashion and accessories. His fashion collection stood as an engineering marvel in Haute Couture, paying homage to various influences – the torero costume, the installations of Christo and Jeanne-Claude, and the work of Elsa Schiaparelli.

Recognising the significance of his exceptional work, Heaven Tanudiredja made the decision to donate the entire collection to ITS. This decision stemmed from his apprehension about his ability to preserve such an incredible creation and the belief that entrusting it to us would ensure better preservation for the benefit of future generations.

ITS Collection outfit  by Heaven Tanudiredja, ITS Contest 2007 finalist, on display in ITS Arcademy

When it comes to the world of ITS Contest, designer Fabrizio Talia has had a diverse and extensive journey unlike any other finalist. His association with ITS spans multiple editions and forms. He initially participated as a Finalist in the inaugural edition in 2002, returning the following year to claim the Best Womenswear collection award.  In 2010, Fabrizio led the creation of a collective of designers named Sideral(ES)*, collaborating with the talented millinery artist and former Finalist, Justin Smith. This project, years in the making, came to fruition, earning selection at ITS. Over the years, Fabrizio has contributed  his unique expertise to ITS Contest as a consultant. His contributions included compiling our annual trend report, leveraging his unparalleled knowledge of fashion history and his extensive experience with some of fashion’s most iconic brands. During one of these collaborative periods, he generously chose to donate an outfit and mask from his award-winning 2003 collection, and a bespoke straw hat meticulously crafted by Justin Smith for the 2010 Sideral(ES)* collection.

Amai Rodriguez recently returned to Trieste, Italy, to explore ITS Arcademy and discover her 2008 work showcased within The First Exhibition – Twenty Years of Contemporary Fashion Evolution, curated by Olivier Saillard.
During the visit, Amai made the decision to generously donate an additional 5 outfits from her debut collection to the ITS Arcademy Collection. 

Interestigly, the concept behind her early work is rooted in the transformation of a private house collection into a museum for the citizens of London. In 1806, Sir John Soane, upon assuming the role of professor of Architecture at the Royal Academy in London, began arranging architecture books, casts, and models in his residence, allowing students access before and after his lectures. Over time, this house evolved into a museum and was eventually termed an “Academy of Architecture.” The diverse array of sculptures, objects, medals, architectural drawings, prints, and medieval artifacts gathered from across the world, boasting an assortment of colors, tastes, and materials, have since been a major source of inspiration for creatives. Amai’s collection is created for imaginary characters residing within John Soane’s museum house. They embody ethereal entities, resembling chameleons as they seamlessly blend and conceal themselves within the corners of the rooms.

ITS Collection outfit by Amai Rodriguez, ITS Contest 2008 finalist, on display in ITS Arcademy

In 2012, designer Marius Janusauskas captivated everyone at the ITS Contest show with a collection drawing inspiration from diverse sources such as the fairytale of Sleeping Beauty, horror movies, Madame Grès’ work, and sculptures by Pablo Atchugarry. The narrative revolved around the concept of a passive woman, akin to Sleeping Beauty, undead and frozen in time, with her vibrant colors fading away while the only semblance of life lingered in the blood coursing through the seams of her garments.

Like Susan and Amai, Marius was able to visit ITS Arcademy and see his work exhibited firsthand. Enthralled by the museum’s concept of art in fashion, he felt it was the perfect home for his creations. In a heartfelt gesture, Marius decided to entrust his entire ITS 2012 womenswear collection to the museum – not just garments but also sketches, paintings, and sketchbooks, providing future generations with a unique insight into his creative process and inspirations. 

VIDEO UNBOXING MARIUS Unboxing of ITS Contest 2012 finalist Marius Janusauskas’ full collection, including sketchbook, research and art, donated to the ITS Collection.

While the core of the Collection comprises works gathered through  ITS Contest, we also embrace donations that contribute significantly to the preservation of local and international fashion heritage. A prime example is our preservation of part of the archive belonging to Trieste-born Alda Balestra von Stauffenberg, a revered international top model from the 1970s to the 1990s. Her modeling career encompassed collaborations with prominent designers, commencing with a young Gianni Versace and extending to the likes of Oscar de la Renta and Karl Lagerfeld. Leaving Paris for New York, she served as the face of a leading cosmetics brand, featured in photographs by Irving Penn. Her agency celebrated her contract with a party at Studio 54, attended by icons such as Andy Warhol and Basquiat.

ITS holds and preserves her collection of magazines, as well as a haute couture wedding gown from Valentino, a gift from the designer for whom she modelled, along with a handwritten note from Mr. Garavani himself.

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