Useful Beauty and its secrets

Useful Beauty and its secrets - Shoeaholic by Heinz Schattner


Useful beauty and fashion: fashion products are beautiful and their beauty is intertwined with their usefulness. Both values are closely connected. This is also the main feature of the Made In Italy. How so?

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The industry of Made In Italy

The Made In Italy, Textile, Fashion and Accessories industry employs approximately 600.000 people and produces a turnover of more than €100 billion. Confindustria Moda is a Federation that brings together 7 associations that summarise the 7 key sectors of the Italian manufacturing. They are:

  • textile and clothing (SMI Sistema Moda Italia);
  • footwear (Assocalzaturifici);
  • eyewear (Anfao);
  • Leather Goods (Assopellettieri);
  • jewellery-making (Federorafi);
  • fur products (AIP);
  • tanning (Unic concerie italiane);

This federation was created to protect the supply chain of excellence that makes Made in Italy world known. It represents more than 60,000 companies and employs about 550,000 workers. 

As the Italian fashion Industry has officially surpassed the numbers pre-Covid, and is back leading internationally, Confindustria Moda has decided to celebrate this success by organising an immersive exhibition at MEET Digital Culture Center in Milan the 13th of February. 2023

This exhibition showed 40 works dedicated to Italy and its fashion, taken from the prolific production of Master Fashion Photographer Heinz Shattner. 

Useful Beauty: fashion and Culture

It may seem the easiest, but creating dresses or an accessory choosing the right material requires competences and experience. Italian companies have an extraordinary ability to not only choose the right material, they also know that the right material gives a long-lasting product, which holds its shape, that attracts the consumer. In these terms, products created with the right materials are useful.

Italian creators can also combine technology and art, as they know that beauty is not separated from usefulness. They know that the narrative is important, that consumers, especially the Italian consumers, want products that are real, that tell good stories, that relate to them, that are made with passion and care for the environment.

There are studies from Censis in Italy confirming that good fashion, beautiful products, affect positively both people’s health and lifestyle: so not only beauty can’t be separated from the value of being useful, it becomes a characteristic of an useful product. Beauty helps you feel good.

This commitment goes both ways, and in the end, for Italians, fashion is a cultural activity, it is qualified part of the cultural stages of the structure of society and is mutually a language, a form of expression and a circuite of collective communication.

Useful Beauty: the Art of Heinz Schattner 

The immersive exhibition organised with the participation of the 17 associations was created carefully selecting works in the iconographic archive of master fashion photographer Heinz Shattner.

It is a journey through analog photography up to the evolution to digital works and an  experimentation out of time, using techniques that turn photos into painting.

Each picture is a celebration of the characteristics of the made in Italy, and the exhibition proposed harmonically a series of sections dedicated to the different sectors of the Italian fashion system.

The goal was to allow personal interpretations in the balance between contradictory and intense sensations. The Motto was unquestionably: all for one and once for all.

Heinz Shattner’s photos just as the Made in Italy are not neutral: they are sharp, tidy, contextualised in their utility and are accompanied by pictures of landscapes, portraits and surfaces to celebrate a Mediterranean full immersion.

“The images represent the total freedom of expression that created the shots, combined with precise technical choices. La Bellezza Utile, [the Useful Beauty – ed] amalgamates the sincerity of black and white with the disruptive power of colour. The camera captures the existent of objects and people, allowing observers to feel like they are in an infinite moment and, at the same time, immersed in the contemporaneity of here and now”, said Heinz Schattner.

Useful Beauty and its secrets 2 Useful Beauty and its secrets 4 The secret of useful beauty -Goldsmith and Jewellery by Heinz Schattner Useful Beauty and its secrets 7 Useful Beauty and its secrets 9  Useful Beauty and its secrets 11

The key to the success of the Made in Italy lays in a combination of unique elements and technical excellence that reflects in the Useful Beauty, which is amplified by the work of fashion photographers. What does this mean? Confindustria Moda opened this discussion on Monday the 13th of February 2023. Let’s go through its numbers and analyse the key factors of the fashion industry and the success of the Made In Italy.

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Numbers of the Italian Fashion Industry

The textile, fashion, and accessories industry can be considered a single entity that employs, in Italy, around 600.000 people. The turnover they produce is of more than 100billion euro.


The global success is the result of the unique Italian cultural heritage that brings to the table a very competitive know-how, tightly connected to cultivated and promoted technical skills whose reasons are scientifically sought. Another uniqueness of Italy is the different ability to perceive and express beauty in their products, a beauty that varies from region to region.

Confindustria Moda and the useful beauty

Confindustria Moda is a Federation whose members are the 7 key sectors of Italian manufacturing. These 7 associations are:

  • Textile and clothing (SMI Sistema Moda Italia);
  • Footwear (Assocalzaturifici);
  • Eyewear (Anfao);
  • Leather Goods (Assopellettieri);
  • Jewellery-making (Federorafi);
  • Fur products (AIP);
  • Tanning (Unic Concerie Italiane);

The goal of this federation is to protect the supply chain of excellence that makes the Made in Italy stand out and the Federation itself represents more than 60.000 companies.

Expectations for 2022/2026 in recruitment, foresee a growth of +64.000 to +94.000 new employees, depending on the coming economic trends. [source: Excelsior 2022 Information System]

For the Fashion economic trends released by the National Chamber of Fashion, the turnover of the sector in 2021 grew by 21.2% and, in the first two months of 2022, the growth reached 25%, better than the pre-Covid numbers.

To celebrate the results, Confindustria Moda has organised an immersive exhibition at the MEET Digital Culture Center in Milan, under the flag “Useful Beauty” dedicated to the German master fashion photographer Heinz Schattner.

The core of Italian fashion is: create products choosing exactly the right material for the specific purpose of that product, use the creative intuition to attract the attention of the consumer, and make it aesthetically appealing, specifically make its beauty part of the usefulness of the product.

Beautiful because it is useful. Useful, hence beautiful. Both statements describe the Italian product that finally beats even the nastiest competition as it speaks to the customers not only in terms of technological research and attention to the environment, but also for the story that is invested in the creation of the details that make it unique and durable.

Fashion and Culture Industry

The convergence of technology and creativity characterises the sector of fashion, that wants art and industry to become part of the same tale. The talent of many Italian brands is to introduce in the narrative of Beauty, the values of real and useful.

The storytelling puts real people in relation to real people. In this sense, fashion becomes for every Italian a fact of culture. It affects positively health and lifestyles by giving customers the awareness of buying ingenious and useful objects that are made intentionally rooted in the different regional cultures. Believe it or not, Censis has made a research that confirms that fashion affects our mental health. For Italians in particular, it becomes part of their communication system.

In cultural terms, fashion owns a lot to their master storytellers: fashion photographers. That is why this immersive exhibition at MEET Cultural Digital Center  has been organised. Heinz Schattner is one of the most prolific voices that described how culture and usefulness intertwine in the know-how of the Made in Italy.

Useful Beauty and The Art Of Heinz Schattner

“Useful Beauty” is the exhibition presented the 13th of February in the immersive room at MEET Digital Culture Center.

It showed a selection of iconic works by Heinz Schattner, from analogue photography to digital, all together a block of 40 pictures in rotation on the walls of the immersive room, without interruption.

The collection was divided into sections dedicated to all the sectors of the Italian fashion system according to the “all for one and one for all” motto. Shattner’s pictures are not neutral, and so is not the Made In Italy: they are both an assessment of sharp, tidy, intense productivity contveid in their beauty and contextualised utility.

The context is also emphasised by the different locations: so the pictures were intertwined with landscapes, portraits and surfaces that should all together convey that Mediterranean immersion sensation.

My images represent the total freedom of expression that created the shots, combined with precise technical choices. La Bellezza Utile, [the Useful Beauty – ed] amalgamates the sincerity of black and white with the disruptive power of colour. The camera captures the existent of objects and people, allowing observers to feel like they are in an infinite moment and, at the same time, immersed in the contemporaneity of here and now” Heinz Schattner

The exhibition was created with the contribution of the international fairs headed by the Confindustria Moda associations: Milano Unica, Mido, Micam Milano, Mipel, TheOneMilano, Lineapelle, and Homi Fashion & Jewels.

Heinz Schattner

Master photographer born in Germany, artistically grown in Paris and London. By personal choice and because of his deep love for the country, he lives in Italy where he also works.

Schattner started his career by assisting internationally renowned photographers and became prolific as still life photographer. Eventually his talent exploded in the fashion world, layering countless collaborations in the fashion area and with American and Italian newspapers in the Condé Nast group along with numerous others.

Schattner has a multicultural style that reflects his international experience, including 10 years in the US, and has grown into a successful AD of television advertising campaigns. His volumes and exhibitions can be found all around the world and welcomed with the affection that master photographers of this calibre deserve.

Milan and the Useful Beauty

Tommaso Sacchi, cultural adviser for the Municipality of Milan, was one of the members of the panel that introduced the exhibition. He started thanking both the artist, and the president of Confindustria Moda.

Celebrating the latter for the initiative of opening a vital debate, he underlined the necessity of working together as a system. On this matter, according to Sacchi, Milano Fairs are those who are acting with the highest seriousness, collaborating with the rest of Italy, fairs and realities that represent this industry, focusing on the importance for this Italian sector to team as one.

Embracing fashion as a subject of culture, and remembering the infamous times when the same was isolated as something that creates no wealth, he celebrated the fact that these events work positively to contrast this non sharable statement.

Of course he thanked the president of MEET, Maria Grazia Mattei, as her Digital Cultural Center is a crucial, attentive and deep answer to the contemporary needs to approach and understand the digital reality in a democratised non biased way: using it to describe, through art, the productivity of a city as Milan is not an easy task, but MEET has successfully embraced it since years and is a reference for the citizens of Milan.

Finally he shared the greetings from the city Mayor, Beppe Sala, and revealed that today’s story interested him, as he understood how important his presence as an authority was in that moment to seal the development of the district of the city where MEET Digital Culture Center lays, and that soon will also host the Museum of Digital Art.

Sacchi celebrated the skill that Milano has to embrace immediate arts, and photography is one of those contemporary arts that by its nature freezes moments to give them back to the audience. That the industry of fashion had the intuition to marry the art of photography, welcoming its best creators such as Heinz Schttner, is admirable.

Milano in its turn is ready to embrace and celebrate the marriage between art and industry. It is efficient and gives the opportunity to tell about a world, in this case the one of fashion, in such a way that both art and manufacture elevate each other to their most authoritative levels of mastership, yet staying approachable.


Heinz Schattner: the master photographer

Born in Germany, Heinz Schattner chose Paris and London to mature artistically. Being in love with Italy, he decided to move to the country to live and work.

To grow professionally, he started working alongside international renowned authors as an assistant. Finally he found his dimension in fashion photography and has countless collaborations among the others with Italian and American newspapers in the Conde Nast group. 

Schattner lived and worked in the United States for 10 years and matured a very own multicultural style. Finally he has curated as AD numerous television advertising campaigns, and his exhibitions and volumes are numerous and can be found all over the world.


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Flora MC

About Author

Flora MC

Flora MC is correspondent from Italy for NYSG since September 2018. Passionate about design, technology, with focus on made in Italy, Flora has lived in several European countries where she specialised in communication online, both visual and written and is a polyglot. She studied cultural mediation and European affairs in Italy, visual communication, web design, and original production in Sweden, and commercial photography in the US.

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