Scheda: Evento - Tipo: Culturale

Turin and women. Small and big stories from the Middle Ages to today - Dressmakers

"Turin and women". Section: Dressmakers.

Archivio Storico della Città di Torino, on display from October 6, 2021 to March 31, 2022.



The army of the "Caterinette"

At the beginning of the twentieth century the dressmakers, called "Caterinette" from the name of their patron - Santa Caterina da Alessandria - made up a fifth of the entire female workforce, engaged in ateliers, laboratories and shops, to which were added women engaged in work home. This army contributed to making Turin one of the fashion capitals until the Second World War.

The tailor's career began early, around the age of twelve, with cleaning and delivery duties; the actual apprenticeship was accessed later, at first with limited tasks (hems, rising) until learning the secrets of the trade from more experienced colleagues with a long and arduous path.

Being emancipated, knowing how to dress with taste, contacts with the upper social classes contributed to creating the stereotype of frivolous and light women around the dressmakers, as evidenced by theatrical, literary and cinematographic works (Addio giovinezza, operetta by Sandro Camasio and Nino Oxilia, Between women alone by Cesare Pavese from which the film Le friends by Michelangelo Antonioni was based). In reality they were subjected to exhausting work rhythms and hours and received a very low salary, reasons that repeatedly led them to strike to ask for holiday rest (1911) and better wages; the strike of 1920 lasted for thirty-four days. In 1906 the National Mutual Aid Society for young workers was born in Turin, to which many dressmakers joined.

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