The Italian TV Series ‘1992’ tells the story of the year of the same name. The period was a watershed in Italian history; worthwhile enough to be reinterpreted in the 2015 Sky TV series, based on an idea by Stefano Accorsi.
Set in “Milano da bere” (Milan’s infamous drinking and nightlife scene), plagued by “Tangentopoli” (a corruption scandal, referred to by Italians as “Bribesville”) businessmen, and filled with Rome’s corrupt politicians, ‘1992’ is one of the most significant productions in Italian television’s history. Its accurate portrayal of the times is another reason the show has such an unscrupulous cool factor.
Fashion plays a fundamental role in this fictional version of the Tangentopoli inquiries, which takes place in Italy during the Berlusconi era. Between archival videos from historic Italian shows ‘Non è la Rai’ and ‘Casa Vianello’, and stage costumes by Roberto Chiocchi that have clearly been inspired by Giorgio Armani’s style, ‘1992’ accurately captures every trend of the time.
“You are like that painting: elegant, cold, hurt.”
Armani’s sleek fashions, for instance, are a distinctive feature of character Leonardo Notte, (played by Accorsi), a brilliant mind from the city of Publitalia. Always donning spotless suits, he left behind his past life as a dedicated student in Bologna after 1977, when he was held responsible for the death of a girl due to a drug overdose.
A sort of a Don Draper, but adapted to the Nineties and to the “yuppiedom” of the finance world, Notte is always dressed impeccably, usually wearing a bow tie. He only chooses a casual look for his summer trip to Sardinia, and on the other extreme, a very formal tuxedo for the gala organized by the “Cavaliere” (Former Prime Minister Berlusconi’s nickname).
Notte’s style sharply contrasts with the shabby look of the young policeman Luca Pastore (played by Domenico Diele), who wears casual and plain outfits.
Above all, the character Pietro Bosco, played by Guido Caprino steals the show. Returning home from the Gulf War, Bosco joins the Lega Nord political party as a militant. By chance, he becomes a rising star as a member of the Parliament. At the same time as his political evolution, he transformed his look as well; although he couldn’t alter his inner nature much.
“As sporty sweaters showing off his athletic body are his preferred uniform, the member of Lega Nord is never at ease in striped suits. He feels uncomfortable in his suits, coming from the popular suburbs of Milan.”
Despite the risk of caricature due to his vivacious spirit, Bosco is one of the most successful characters in the series, representing in a simple and effective way, an overtly passionate anti-establishment character, while still maintaining his penchant for tragedy.
The importance of fashion is most evident in the female characters, first seen with the wannabe showgirl Veronica Castello (Miriam Leone), who is also an ex-call girl and lover of a business tycoon, ready to do anything for a TV role.
Despite her attractiveness and hard-earned popularity, Veronica is one of the most aggressive characters on Italian TV; she is an obsessively ambitious woman, who hides her uncertainty and troubles behind the facade of an amoral femme fatale.
“The audience will mainly remember the nude scenes. But Leone’s outfits are extremely interesting: her audacious and sexy look becomes more and more sophisticated during her terrible downward spiral into a world of sexual favors and corruption.”
Dressed mostly in dark outfits to match the darkness in her soul, or in naked tones to highlight her sensuality with seductive tops, gala dresses, and big earrings; Castello reflects the sexist side of the times, while at the same time, showcasing a style inspired by the dark ladies of 1940s “film noir”.
You see the most extreme change in the character played by Tea Falco: the spoiled kid Beatrice “Bibi” Mainaghi. In the beginning, Bibi (almost an adaptation of the character played by Falco in ‘Io e te’ by Bertolucci) is a twenty-year-old nihilist and a drug addict; she is a black sheep, desperately trying to escape the rules of a bourgeois family by partying every night and living life on the edge.
To emphasize her rebellious personality, Chiocchi dresses her in a dark grunge look: head-to-toe in black with lace stockings and a black fedora, as if she were the hero of a rock ballad.
Later, when she has to take over the family company after her father’s death and has to get very close to the Mafia, Bibi undergoes a drastic change. She transforms herself into a refined business woman in designer clothing, wearing jewelry like a decadent princess, and smoking all the time.
A young girl, who has grown up too quickly and, always feeling put in a box ― this time as the boss colluded with the underworld ― Bibi hides behind perfect suits. Appearance and artificial features are the main forms of expression for the entire group of protagonists. (Pastore isn’t an exception: under his policeman uniform, his body is tortured by AIDS).
“All of them wear a mask, having the illusion that they are successfully hiding their true nature.”
There’s a theme in the costumes in ‘1992’ ― and also in its sequel ‘1993’ ― relating to female protagonists. Veronica’s look gets even darker and more audacious to as her moral corruption grows, while Bibi wears formal outfits representing a sort-of modern samurai woman.
The sexy turning point for journalist Giulia Castello (Elena Radonicich) is stunning and runs parallel to her descent towards ethical ambiguity. The style of two new characters: Arianna (played by Laura Chiatti) and Eva (played by Camilla Semino Favro) also give us a lot to talk about. The first one looks somber with a motherly attitude; while the second is a rebel, but at the same time fragile. Both are uselessly committed to bringing crumbs of humanity into a more and more immoral world.