8 october 2022 – 8 january 2023


Silken Armours

Curated by Fondazione Franco Maria Ricci and Fondazione Roberto Capucci, in collaboration with Sylvia Ferino

Italian fashion maestro Roberto Capucci is the subject of the major fall exhibition at Labirinto della Masone.

Thirty years ago, in 1993, Franco Maria Ricci published a book of Capucci’s work as part of the Luxe, calme et volupté series: to honour

that anniversary, the Fondazione Roberto Capucci, together with the Fondazione Franco Maria Ricci, have curated a new exhibition in collaboration with Sylvia Ferino. Roberto Capucci is an unequalled genius of Italian fashion and style, admired throughout the world, and his creations have been exhibited in major museums.

The exhibition in Fontanellato aims to celebrate multiple aspects of his career, placing his dresses in dialogue with artworks from the collection to create unexpected and original associations and new artistic connections to startling effect.

Contemporary historians of fashion have agreed that the term “designer” fails to capture Capucci’s work: it is impossible to place him within a single category as his is a fully developed artistic practice.

His dresses are architectonic structures in which colour, the undisputed star of the show, sculpts material, resulting in creations with unequalled expressive power.

Throughout his career, his status has permitted him to dress iconic women such as Marilyn Monroe, Gloria Swanson, Jacqueline Kennedy, Elsa Martinelli, Irene Brin, Rita Levi Montalcini, who received

the Nobel Prize for Medicine in one of his dresses in 1986, and Silvana Mangano, for whom Capucci, at the strong suggestion of Pierpaolo Pasolini, designed costumes for the film Teorema. “Roberto Capucci is a transformer, a Houdini, a magician, an inventor, but above all a gardener, a prince of nature,” the designer Antonio Marras has said. “He does not design dresses, he forms them, as if they were made of precious porcelain. Roberto Capucci is a mathematician and a botanist, an aeronautical engineer, Saint-Exupéry’s Little Prince, who asks for a sheep to be drawn to eat a baobab. Roberto Capucci is an explorer and storyteller of

clothing in motion. The world of myth comes to life in a universe that is constantly transforming itself, like living, changing nature.” Nature is the primary catalyst in his work and the descriptions in Ovid’s Metamorphoses, in which Daphne and other characters are transformed into trees or animals, serve as inspiration: these myths may be found in Capucci’s dresses, the materiality of the textiles serving to transform them into actual sculptures in which fabrics and colour prevail, creating “silken armour” that seems to defy the human figure. The evening dresses, in particular, are timeless creations in which the designer

makes his unmistakable mark, with his constant formal and chromatic research that does not shy away from the most diverse materials, from the rarest silk to simpler natural elements such as raffia or straw, in a continuous search for new expressive possibilities of Beauty. The memorable ed epic creations of the ‘80s, such as Farfalle (Butterflies) and Cerchi (Circles), came to life in this way, and recall forms from the animal kingdom, as did Variazioni nel Verde e Colore (Variations in Green and Colour), in which colour imposes itself, taking the lead in audacious and courageous chromatic combinations.

In order to better understand the work of Capucci, it is crucial to study his preparatory drawings, some of which will be presented in the exhibition to enable visitors to get a sense of the artist’s creative process and admire his boundless imagination.

Sylvia Ferino, the exhibition’s curator, sums up the maestro’s complexity like this: “Whoever wears one of Capucci’s creations immediately takes a leading role in a scene directed by him: a scene that resembles

the triumphal processions and pageantry of Renaissance and Baroque celebrations held in honour of royalty. Capucci is more than a fashion designer: he is a director, an architect, and perhaps a dramaturge, since his dresses dictate a certain courtly sense of ceremony and etiquette, giving form to events while establishing the characters and roles of the women who wear them.” To coincide with the exhibition, a new book on Capucci will be published by Franco Maria Ricci Editore.


The exhibition is open every day, except Tuesdays, from 10.30am to 7pm until October 31st; from 9.30 to 18.00 from 1st November.

Access is included in the admission ticket to Labirinto della Masone, which also includes access to the bamboo labyrinth and Franco Maria Ricci’s art collection.