It’s not all Renaissance frescoes and medieval church architecture in this city – Florence’s top three fashion museums offer a look into iconic Italian fashion houses, at costumes and ball gowns from centuries past as well as access into some of the most historic buildings in the city. And of course one is devoted entirely to that most essential fashion item: shoes.
When it comes to high fashion, I’m more of the window shopper variety with an occasional foray into the hushed and perfumed rooms of these jewel box stores, their dresses reflected in the mirrors, security guards floating through the rooms and all around you glimpses of the magical life you’d have if you could slip your feet into those heels or button up that coat before stepping into the street.
“In these three museums, you’ll get your fill of vintage designs, shoe patterns and historical clothing.”
Florence is absolutely perfect for a fashion lover as the window designs are often worth a tour in and of themselves. Take a stroll down the fashion high street, Via Tournabuoni, where bright colors and fanciful designs nearly pop out of the glass against the backdrop of the sandy colored “pietra forte” stone of the city. A Renaissance city turns out to be the perfect setting for modern high fashion design.
In these three museums, you’ll get your fill of vintage designs, shoe patterns and historical clothing. Not only that, they’ll make you do what fashion is designed to do: dream.
1. Gucci Garden
Now after a 6 month closure, the Gucci Museum located right next to the Palazzo Vecchio opens with a new style and a new name: Gucci Garden.
The building that houses it, the Palazzo della Mercanzia, is historic itself, having opened in 1359. This used to be where trials were head for business related issues between merchants.
The museum opened in 2011 for Gucci’s 90th anniversary. The permanent exhibit features incredible vintage clothes, luggage and the artisan craftsmanship related to the Gucci brand.
Why “Garden”? To recall natural history museums and the passion of the creative director for animals and gardens.
There’s also a cinema!
And a boutique featuring items that are only for purchase in this location.
And the cherry on top of this beautiful museum has to be Osteria Gucci with chef Massimo Bottura, the three star Michelin chef who opened Osteria Francescana in Modena, one of the top three restaurants in the world since 2013 where prices range around €200. Here you can try the chef’s specialties for prices from €15-€40.
Where: Palazzo della Mercanzia, Piazza della Signoria, 10
Hours Museum: 10-19.30
Hours Osteria: 12-8:30pm with reservation
2. Salvatore Ferragamo
The man invented the wedge… and for this we should all be grateful. After working with numerous Hollywood stars in the 1920’s Salvatore Ferragamo returned to Italy to found the now internationally famous fashion brand dedicated to handcrafted shoes. This museum is devoted to….
Shoes, shoes, shoes!
The Palazzo Spini Feroni was constructed in 1289 for Geri Spini, the banker of Pope Boniface VIII (he’s the one who initiated the first Holy Year in 1300. It was bought by Ferragamo in 1938 and turned into a museum in 1995.
The museum is dedicated to the story of the Ferragamo brand, the life of Salvatore Farragamo and his creations.
The museum features 10,000 models designed by Ferragamo with exhibitions that change every 6 months to keep the museum fresh.
Where: Palazzo Spini Feroni, Piazza Santa Trinita, 5
Hours: 10-19:30 ogni giorno
Closed: 1 Gen, 1 Maggio, 15 Agosto, 25 Decembre
3. Costume and Fashion museum at Palazzo Pitti
For a step farther back in the history of fashion, a visit to the costume gallery at Palazzo Pitti combines the best of stately, regal palace interiors and clothes from the 16th century and beyond.
Featuring more than 6,000 pieces of historic clothing, the exhibit alternates every two years to avoid too much light and air exposure to the clothes.
Court clothes, uniforms, theatrical and cinema clothes plus clothes worn by Grand duke Cosimo I de’ Medici and his wife Eleanora di Toledo.
High fashion isn’t left out here. Designers include Valentino, Versarce, Armani, Missoni, and Yves Saint Laurent.
The Palazzo Pitti was built in 1458 by Luca Pitti but was acquired by the famous Medici in the mid 16th century. It became the residence of the grand dukes of Tuscany for many years.
In 1952 the Sala Bianca at the Palazzo Pitti was the site of Florence’s first fashion show for Giovan Battista Giorgini.
Watch out for these crazy opening times and time your visit well!
Where: Palazzina della Meridiana, Piazza de’ Pitti
Hours: 8:15-18:30 every day
Closed: Second, Fourth Sunday e il
First, third, and fifth Monday of every month
Which of Florence’s fashion museums is your favorite? Share your experiences in the post below. Or if you’d like to add a visit to one or all of these museums on one of our tours, let us know by writing to us here.