Gabriele Mayer, la misura dell’invenzione
Arte e mestiere di un sarto costumista
12.05 – 18.06.2023
curated by Lucia Masina with Gabriele Mayer
The house of Gabriele Pacchia (1940), known professionally as Mayer, has always been a tailor’s workshop for the world of show business. This was first owned by his parents, then by himself from 1960, and finally became the famous G.P.11 in 1970. Those rooms that were initially opened in Via Sistina to work more effectively on all the productions of the theatre of the same name, then moved to the Prati area and lastly to Via di Pietralata, also in Rome, have seen all the protagonists of the Italian show business world and many foreigners too, pass through them. The versatility of the spaces and the high workmanship of the tailors he employed in the tailor’s workshops he ran, allowed Mayer to move, simultaneously and with exceptional skill, between drama theatre and opera, cinema and television.
The tailor Gabriele Mayer’s first and foremost interlocutor were the costume designers, whose sketched designs are present in large numbers in this exhibition – just as important as the many sewn objects – for an understanding of the true workings of stage fiction. An exceptional collection of drawings by the professionals with whom Mayer worked constitutes the Maestro’s endowment to the Galleria Nazionale d’Arte Moderna e Contemporanea, where, also documented is Mayer’s personal activity as a costume designer, whose finesse is evident, for instance, in many of Luca Ronconi’s productions.
To step into a tailor’s workshop for the performing arts means to enter a place where the arts meet, thereby enhancing each other. A virtuous process, called ‘synthesis of the arts’, long pursued by the artistic avant-gardes of every era and country.
The elements that coexist in that work space are many and varied. Mannequins, simulacra of the actor who, by wearing a costume, will become a “character other than himself”; dress patterns, sketches, fashion plates with a faint or bold sign – monochrome, coloured and poly-material – and always the carriers of those indispensable suggestions that enable the tailor to bring to life what the costume designer has conceived. And then, again, the photographs taken at work or donated to the tailor’s shop, documenting the new life of a costume on the stage.
The variety in the commissioning of the thousands of costumes made by Gabriele Mayer has resulted in their different collocation and preservation among Italian and foreign theatres, television, collectors.
All those on display in the exhibition have been kindly lent by the One Costumes tailor’s shop, that has taken over the legacy of the G.P.11 tailor’s shop and which continues to collaborate with the Maestro to this day.