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Glamour of Italian Fashion exhibition opens at the V&A

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Calling all glamouristas and lovers of fabulosity...

The much-touted Glamour of Italian Fashion show opens at the V&A this weekend, offering a glimpse into a world of drama, luxury and sheer, unadulterated extravagance.

The exhibition, which looks back at the evolution of Italian fashion from the end of the Second World War to the present day, brings together more designer ensembles and accessories than you could shake a diamante-clad stick at.

Simonetta, Pucci, Sorelle Fontana, Valentino, Gucci, Missoni, Giorgio Armani, Dolce & Gabbana, Fendi, Prada and Versace are just some of the fashion houses with accoutrements on show.

The exhibition traces Italy's striking transition from post-war ruins to the opulence of the landmark Sala Bianca catwalk shows held in Florence in the 1950s, which propelled Italian fashion onto the world stage.

During the 50s and 60s, a stream of Hollywood films were shot in Italy, with stars such as Audrey Hepburn and Elizabeth Taylor becoming ambassadors for luxury Italian fashion labels.

Hepburn won an Oscar for her performance in 1953 film Roman Holiday, which represented the beginning of a long love affair between herself and Italy.

"With that film, my mother became almost a second Colosseum: an icon of the city, an icon of a different, free-and-easy Roman spirit that was symbolized by a girl who traveled the world on a Vespa," her daughter Luca Dotti later said.

Taylor's controversial affair with Richard Burton began while they were filming Cleopatra in Rome in 1962 and the two were pictured swimming and sunbathing together on the island of Ischia, off the Amalfi Coast.

Take a look at some prized pieces from the show below. The Glamour of Italian Fashion 1945 - 2014 opens tomorrow, Saturday 5 April and runs to the 27 July. Find out more information here.

Also scroll down for photos of celebrities at the exhibition's opening party last night.

Elizabeth Taylor wears Bulgari jewellery at the masked ball, Hotel Ca'Rezzonico, Venice 1967

Ankle boots, black leather stiletto heels with gold, white and pink embroidery. 2000. Dolce & Gabbana

Evening dress of silk. 1987-1988. Roberto Capucci

Valentino posing with models nearby Trevi Fountain. Rome, July 1967

Gianfranco Ferre advert, Model: Aly Dunne. Fall/Winter 1991. Photographer:Gian Paolo Barbieri

Fashion show in Sala Bianca. 1955. Archivio Giorgini

Last night's opening party

Emilia Fox

Downton star Laura Carmichael

Lily Allen

Words: Anna Brech, Photos: The V&A and Rex Features

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