“Dialoghi/Dissing – Gianni Versace, Magna Grecia Tribute” is the title of the exhibition on show at the Museo Archeologico Nazionale di Napoli (MANN), until September 20; a tribute to the great stylist (or “tailor,” as he defined himself), assassinated 20 years ago in his Miami villa.

The title of the exhibit is an oxymoron: “Dialoghi” means dialogues and “Dissing” means treating with disrespect. Can there be any figurative dialogue between a frivolous dress and a solemn archaeological find? “Certainly,” explains curator Sabina Albano, fashion expert and archaeologist, “Versace was often inspired by the art of the past, repeating the iconographic symbols of painting, sculpture and mosaics from Magna Graecia.”

So, in the Sala del Cielo Stellato, fifteen original dresses from the collection of Antonio Caravano are on show next to sculptures and works owned by the Museum. In this way it will be possible to directly appreciate the tribute that Versace paid with his work to the great Magna Graecia art – so, a dress with ancient theatrical masks, is exposed next the original artifacts; terracotta heads from the Temple of Demetra in Sant’Aniello a Caponapoli (the acropolis of Neapolis) are on show alongside a garment decorated with similar features.

These days the MANN also puts on show for the first time a marble 29-inch-high statuette of “Zeus Enthroned” dating to the 1st century BC returned to Italy by the Getty Museum in Los Angeles following a ten years investigation.

Ilona Catani Scarlett

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