6 May-1 Aug 2004. A fashion exhibition located in what were the biggest baths of ancient Rome is not everyones ideal juxtaposition of worlds. Yet walking into this imposing thermal complex and through its immense galleries and under its ancient stone vaults, the hundreds of mannequins which stand on and off sloping platforms wearing the clothes of Italian fashion icon Giorgio Armani seem but a natural extension of this graceful place. At the end of the first room some draped mannequins are encased behind a large gauze that uses a play of light both to conceal and to highlight the draped figures. They are lit with a range of spotlights which gives each individual outfit energy and life. The rooms that follow are equally theatrical, using curtains of fabric garlands that sometimes reveal, sometimes hide the dramatic architecture of the baths. In some cases Roman statues or busts stand alongside or behind the mannequins, echoing the formers choreographed poses. The clothes themselves are the exhibitions raison detre. The few placards of text explain the essence of the Armani philosophy: his sleek, minimal and refined aesthetic, his harmonious balance of the modern and the traditional, his androgynous approach to tailoring. The clothes are divided thematically and not chronologically, into a non-colour group of Armanis staple beige and gray (or greige as it is now known) daywear; a group of colourful ethnic clothes with rich embroideries and intricate beadwork, and a black and white evening wear group, to name just a few. Robert Wilsons installation is both gentle and discreet, allowing the beauty of the location to shine through while letting the clothes take centre stage. Giovanna Dunmall.
Terme di Diocleziano, Viale Enrico de Nicola 78. 10.00-18.45, Mon closed.