Olive Guerra BMC ’20 Studies Fashion in Milan and Venice

Ciao da Milano! 

My name is Olive (they/them), class of 2020. I am a fine arts and growth and structure of cities double major. This summer I am fortunate to be researching la tuta (the jumpsuit) as a garment of transcendence for POC queer communities. This independent research project organically grew from my previous studies and work regarding theory of the body and construction of garments. My thesis focused on displays of power, material, and gender within a post-apocalyptic setting. The jumpsuit is a garment of device—worn by the working class, the marginalized, the queer, the performers—as an object of the future. The importance of my research will push the notion that queer fashion is the future. With its origination in Italy, this object of potential engages with futurism, utilitarianism, and functionalism. With support and guidance of Professor Alessandro Giammei in Bryn Mawr’s Italian and Italian Studies Department, the Fine Art Department, and Growth and Structure of Cities Department, I intend to continue this work in my final semester as two independent courses. I have constructed my time in Italy through a series of themes regarding the gender of fashion, modernization, ‘ready to wear clothing,’ futurism, theatricality, and the apocalyptic body and architecture . As I travel through Italy, I remind myself as a researcher to prioritize the local communities, create an amicable environment as I interview, dance, and study with those around me. 

Here is some of my research: I started my work in Rome were I celebrated the 50th anniversary of Roma LGBTQ Pride. There I interviewed members of Arcigay, a nonprofit organization, learning about the history of pride in Rome and current issues surrounding the LGBTQ community. 

While in Venezia I visited the Fortuney Factory, where I perused the stunning and iconic Italian fabric. I visited the Peggy Guggenheim Collection, viewing futurist art and design. During my final days, I stumbled upon the Fiorella Gallery, showcasing queer men’s coats, custom manequins, and a pleathera of queer culture. 

My time in Milan includes the modernization of la tuta, researching the Italian design archives at the Biblioteca Triennale, skimming through Vogue (50’s-current publications), and visiting the Armani studios.
As my research continues I am noticing the crossover between the Japanese Komo and la tuta.

Thayaht, the creator of la tuta

While in Florence, I will analyze the work of Thayaht—the creator of la tuta—and the theory which influenced such garment. This will include visits to the Museo del Tessuto and the Campolmi Factory. Finally, Rome will showcase the completion of my time in Italy; I will further examine the architecture and the body.

I will start the preliminary work of turning the theoretical into the physical. Returning from my 9 week research project, the next steps will include a visual aspect through 2-D graphic images of reconstructed Italian architecture and how la tuta engages within such spaces. I intend to design an architectural model of one of the spaces. My journals, thoughts, and continued research will also be displayed and presented at a talk.

This independent research scholarship has provided an opportunity to explore queer culture through fashion. It has allowed me to continue my research, engage with Italian culture, and follow my passions. I wish to express my immense gratitude towards the Hurford Center, Italian Department, and all of my advisors.

Written by Olive Guerra ’20, fine arts, growth and structure of cities double major

Edited by Emily Dombrovskaya ’19