Pitti 94: Italy’s new Culture Minister makes his fashion debut. Turns out he’s a committed fashionista
Italy’s new Culture Minister Alberto Bonisoli made his fashion debut on Tuesday morning inside the storied Salone dei Cinquecento of Florence at the opening of the giant menswear trade show Pitti 94, winning over an initially skeptical audience with his fulsome praise of the fashion industry.
“I believe that fashion is not just business, but a fundamental part of our Italian culture. So, when I was asked to come to Pitti I automatically cleared time in my schedule,” Bonisoli told an audience of fashion executives, visiting editors and several score of local TV crews and press inside the giant room famed for its dramatic Renaissance frescoes.
“Back in 2009 there was an event in Milan entitled Culture and Fashion, but in my view we need to be more courageous and say that fashion is culture,” added Bonisoli, named minister on May 31 in the new coalition, nicknamed M5S+Lega, as its main components are the Five Star Movement and the Northern League.
“It’s the moment to recognize the importance of fashion in creating our Italian culture, which is appreciated throughout the world,” added the 56-year-old Bonisoli, who is something of fashion expert. Prior to entering the government, he was the dean of Nuova Accademia di Belle Arti Milano (NABA), the respected Milan art and fashion college. NABA; design school Domus Academy; several other smaller schools and Istituto Marangoni, Italy’s best known fashion school, were all packaged together in November 2017, into a new fashion and design group called Gruppo Galileo Italia. It is owned by Galileo Global Education, the massive international conglomerate controlling some 32 colleges in 10 countries. Before running NABA, Bonisoli was a professor of Innovation Management at Bocconi, Italy’s top business school, after a stint as a manager inside GFT, a once massive high-end apparel manufacturer.
How would his fashion experiences color his strategy as Culture Minister, FashionNetwork.com asked the new minister?
“I think I can bring two things. The first, I see culture in a slightly wider scope than, maybe, other very prominent experts. For the simple reason that I came from the applied arts. And secondly, as in any organization the ministry has the responsibility to acquire, disburse, manage, plan and control resources. And that’s what I do all day long, my expertise. So, I think I can be useful,” smiled Bonisoli.
Bonisoli arrived in Florence after fellow cabinet, Interior Minister Matteo Salvini, made international headlines on Monday for refusing to allow the Aquarius rescue ship carrying 629 migrants from docking in any Italian port. Eventually, Spain agreed to accept these refugees. “From today, Italy is also starting to say no to human trafficking, no to the business of illegal immigration,” said Salvini, who campaigned to deport 500,000 migrants living illegally in Italy.
By contrast, Bonisoli’s former home, NABA, brags on its website that it has over 70 nationalities within its student body. Did the minister not see any contradiction in his position?
“I think they are two completely diverse events. What we did ask for yesterday – correctly, albeit assertively – was some concrete sign of solidarity from other members of the European Union. No other purpose. Spain, I am so happy to say, eventually listened. And I think that opens up a good perspective for the future. One is the management of immigration flows, and the other is the openness of our education to new people and ideas,” concluded Bonisoli.
Some members of the new government, notably Salvini, have attacked the media for allegedly producing “Fake News.” However, Bonisoli insisted that he wanted the media to be highly independent.
“The media is fundamental. Our first line of defense in democracy. And you should be ruthless, mean and take no prisoners,” the minister insisted.
Bonisoli, whose ministry also oversees role tourism, suggested that the state may open a new fashion museum dedicated to the archives, designs and fabric resources of noted fashion houses.
“Something that would give real visibility to this unique patrimony in our country. Hence an investment in this area is to be encouraged. And not just creating a museum but using new technologies too,” he added.
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