"Don't give a damn about fashion, or appearence.
Or about what people think of you.
Evil is on the eyes of those who look.
Come into the word of Fiorella Gallery"
Fiorella Gallery is the unique combination of an art gallery and a fashion store, a concept created by the inventive mind of Fiorella Mancini.
Fiorella Mancini first opened a store in Venice in 1968 using the settlement from the chemical plant in Marghera were she was employed as a worker. She was forced out for leading a massive strike against the rough working conditions.
The whole front of a city bus was installed in her store, as a reminder of her commitment to the mainland. In those years she began her activity as a fashion designer, working with precious brocades, velvets and lace, reviving ancient techniques and shaping her own radical vision. Long before it became a trend, she started collecting pieces from the most extreme design avantgardes of the 20th century. Fiorella Mancini's desecration and irony soon became a sensation. The well-heeled Venetians were shocked by spectacular performances, political art, hand painted velvets, one-of-a-kind apparel and revisited cultural icons. Many of Fiorella Mancini's 'happenings' have been outlawed by the authorities, but that has never stopped her anticonformist spirit. “I speak to the darker side of the human psyche, I want to vivify it with my creations”, she said in one of her rare interviews.
To decry the city's deterioration, in 1981 Fiorella Mancini pareded down Venice's canals on a giant rat, wearing masks made with embalmed pigeons. Two years later she sailed on a battleship with a commando of guerrilla girls, launching an attack for the liberation of the Venice Biennale. Those were the years of Fiorella Mancini's legendary parties, such as the “Pink Prison Party” or the “Cat International Party”. In the same spirit, she set up an ephemeral Turkish bath as a gathering place for intellectuals and movie directors.
During her prolific chairmanship of the Venetian Fashion Comittee, she organized and curated several exhibitions. 1984 was the year of her landmark exhibition “I Dogi della Moda”, presented in the prestigious Palazzo Grassi. Twenty of the most influential fashion designers of the time, from Armani to Vivienne Westwood , created a piece on the theme of disguise, presented on mannequins sculpted by Australian artist Rod Dudley, featuring the heads of twenty doges on a stylized female body. The visitors were accompanied by guides carrying on the back sculptures of giant bees. For the Dogi exhibition, she also printed a fine catalog with photos by Franco Fontana, with whom she collaborated on several other projects and publications.
In the mid 80's, as she was shuttling back and forth between Venice and New York to manage her Broadway showroom, she opened Fiorella Gallery in Campo Santo Stefano. It was to become one of the most iconic and controversial spots in the city. The gallery showcases rare pieces by designers and artists including Gaetano Pesce, Ettore Sottsass, Mario Schifano, Rod Dudley, Ludovico de Luigi and G.K.Bodanza. Still, the majority of the pieces are by Fiorella Mancini herself.
Fiorella Mancini's art has no boundaries, neither figurative nor material, and no taboos.
Surrealist, late-gothic, post-pop are only some of the labels that have been put on her. But Fiorella Mancini defies all classification attempts. She makes a generous use of sexual references and modern fetishes; she manipulates human fears and desires to produce her unique creations. Day-glo vibrant colors, plush silks and velvets, sassy statements, silver screened tees in graphic motives and humorous juxtapositions amaze, surprise, invite the public to reflect.
Fiorella Mancini uses the windows of her gallery to stage her reactions to social and political events, embroidering her comments on provocative g-strings or displaying colorful neon propositions. Fiorella Mancini also designs iconic objects such as the skull glasses, the ironic chandeliers or the “Brooklyna” desk, all featured in several publications.
Still, she remains best known for her shocking, unpredictable, unique couture. “Clothes are like masks: they shelter us from reality”, Fiorella Macini explains.
Her outrageous jackets are contemporary yet classic, sensual yet cerebral, dashing yet wearable.
Customers and collectors of her art include famous actors, directors, musicians and artists.
Her work has been published in numerous fashion and design magazines and has been selected by stylists all over the world. All pieces are handmade and one-of-a-kind. It is, indeed, wearable art.
Fiorella Mancini has never stopped experimenting with new materials, from leaves and insects to latex. In 1995 the Rome-based Palazzo delle Esposizioni presented “Intervento Lattico”, an exhibition of her latex bodices presented on skeleton mannequins. Bringing subcutanous body layers up to the surface, she transforms and re-interprets the idea of garnment as second skin: nerve bundles, muscles and bones are mixed with thin tubes for intravenous injections, toys, found objects.
Fiorella Mancini's achievements range further than fashion and design. Besides the numerous articles and essays she wrote about art, music and cinema, she also directed and produced many documentaries, video art and short movies, including a rare 1980 interview with legendary Italian film director Michelangelo Antonioni, screened 26 years later at Circuito Off, Venice International Short Film Festival.
In more recent times, Fiorella Mancini has kept up her taste for provocation. In 2000 she created several pieces inspired by Catholic icons to denounce the commodification of the Church's Jubilee. She took part in the highly controversial Gay Pride held in Rome that year with a fashion performance, a proof of her engagement on the side of the gay community.
In 2005 she held an anti-Biennale art display in her gallery: under a “bed and breakfast” neon sign two men in underwear shared a bed in the shop window for five days, as a kind of alternative reality show.
In 2008 she received an award for lifetime achievements by the Swiss National Chamber of Fashion.