“Made In Italy” and Beating the Odds In a Fashion Revolution
Made In Italy (2020) is an Italian series that takes place in 1970s Milan and tells the story of a young woman named Irene Mastrangelo (Greta Ferro), who by chance comes across an internship opening for a fashion magazine called Appeal.
The introduction to Irene is one that sets her tone for the rest of the series–she has big ideas and no fear to share them. We meet Irene before she enters the world of fashion at the university she attends. She sits before her professor, presenting her thesis on a Caravaggio painting. She does not simply take into account only the images or the colors of the painting, but rather explains her take on Caravaggio’s way of thinking for it.
Irene’s professor dismisses her thoughts immediately. “What is this fad of throwing psychology into everything? What did you think, miss, that someone would be interested in the thoughts of Irene Mastrangelo?”
It turns out, that’s exactly what people would be interested in. But Irene doesn’t get the respect she deserves immediately upon rejecting her professor’s mark and then going to interview at Appeal.
For Irene, it takes a whole lot of risks. At this time during the 70s in Italy, there are riots in the streets. A new feminist movement. And at the same time, the world of fashion is in for its own kind of revolution. Familiar names only known as rising icons at the time are featured in the show: Versace, Prada, Armani, among many other familiar faces I won’t mention for the element of surprise.
Irene has to choose between the traditional way a woman should act or having a career for herself. She has to come to terms with her boyfriend, Luigi, and ask, is he really worth it all? Irene’s mother and father expected her to finish school and then find a job, not the other way around. Her mom is more sensitive, but her father is a bit harsh. “Rejecting that mark was nothing compared to facing my father,” Irene said.
Instead of conforming to societal norms in Italy and following what is expected of Irene Mastrangelo, she does the unexpected. School is still important to her, but it doesn’t quite fit what she’s gotten herself into.
Unexpected for Irene means: showing up to a fashion show where the invite was for her boss, Rita Pasini (Margherita Buy), and not her. It means Irene writing up a review on the show when Rita couldn’t. It means encouraging her colleagues, like photographer John Sassi (Marco Bocci) to photograph his first African-American model, and telling the entire editorial team that people want to learn more about the Missoni’s personally, their thought processes behind their clothes, rather than just the clothes themselves. Soon enough, Irene earns a permanent position at Appeal, from intern to journalist, the opportunity presented by the editor-in-chief himself, Armando Frattini (Giuseppe Cederna).
Rita plays an interesting role in this show: she’s a big time editor for Appeal, but there are bigger problems for her to face than choosing garments for an editorial. The protests hit home for Rita, who is desperately trying to contact her son, Simone. She has to manage dealing with personal problems, but for her that means disappearing unexpectedly from her job. Rita thinks quick, and has innovative ideas. When the editor meeting runs dry, she simply suggests with confidence to write more about designers from where the magazine comes–Italy.
Aside from this show being a very female-empowered one, from Rita Pasini to Irene’s best friend and colleague Monica Massimello (Fiammetta Cicogna), Made in Italy also touches on topics of LGBT issues, mistreatment of models in the fashion industry and gender roles.
The show truly has every element in one, and that is what makes it so enjoyable and–real. Irene is a relatable character and the adventures she goes on with Monica in Made in Italy are unforgettable.
Made in Italy leaves you wanting to see what happens next for not just Irene, but all the other characters as well. It shows the troubles and triumphs for someone young trying to make it in the fashion industry with nothing but a determined mind set, and shows that it is all very well possible to succeed, too.
Made in Italy is available to stream on Topic, the streaming service from First Look Media.