Ready for your latest dose of Decades’ Cameron Silver and his jetsetting adventures? Of course you are! Here’s a taste of Silver’s recent jaunt to Alta Roma. Hey, Cameron, can you squeeze us into your suitcase for the next journey on the docket? Merci!
“It may seem that Haute Couture begins and ends in Paris, but the Italians have had a tradition of high fashion since 1871. Legendary names like Gallenga, Fontana, and Schuberth may not be on the tip of every fashionista’s tongue, but with the dynamic Sylvia Venturini Fendi serving as President of this fledgling fashion week, the brands like Ballestra, Sarli, and Gattinoni could regain global prominence.
After making the fashion rounds in January in London, Florence, Milan and Paris, I may have been ready to surrender to a pair of Lululemons, but Friday afternoon got me excited, thanks to my Alta Roma debut event of Irene Galitzine. Successfully re-launched with designer Sergio Zambon the brand is bringing back the evening palazzo pajama that the Princess invented in 1960. (P.S. Barneys has wisely scooped up this thoroughly modern collection.) No sweats, please; put on some embellished crepe PJs and keep the chic!
The weekend really kicked off Friday night at Santo Spirito with Lodental, modern interpretations of the iconic Loden coats designed by Andrea Provvidenza in shades of Skittles elegantly displayed on forms in this former hospital (Roman hospitals do not look like Cedars Sinai, FYI…more like palaces!). I have already asked Andrea for the winter white coat. I’ve sent him like 30 emails about this!
Saturday morning San Andres previewed his F/W collection of charming Charlie Brown taupe and black dresses and clean tailored colorblock ensembles. It was fresh and very wearable: Think Celine gone sweet. This was followed by Sarli, a venerable Italian maison founded in 1958, which debuted dramatic wateau back cocktail dresses in chocolate and apricot silk, plus sculptural evening gowns reminiscent of recent Armani Privé shows. The strongest looks were a vanilla chiffon keyhole evening gown and a purple exaggerated ruffle blouse worn with high-waisted cream pants. Fausto Sarli died in 2010 and Alberta Terranova is now navigating the house that once dressed countless stars in the 1960s and 70s.
In the afternoon, I was joined by HRH Princess Marie-Louise von Sachsen for stroll through art galleries that collaborated with fashion designers on some interesting installations. The most dramatic was by Haans Nicholas Mott at Monitor Gallery; he rigged his hanging raw-seamed ensemble from the ceiling with the words, “there are eyes in the darkness” printed on a sheer scrim around the garment. He is an insider designer to watch with global patrons like Karl Lagerfeld. Since I am on an epic book tour, I was happy to be hosted by Galleria O. I signed books for two hours amidst a collection of Italian mid-century objets. This was followed by the fashion highlight of the weekend, Stella Jean‘s terrific show. Jean’s Fall 2013 collection of Haitian prints were thoroughly intoxicating. She also showed menswear, which I think will be a great success. Imagine Lilly Pulitzer gone Haitian. I’ve already sent Jean 30 emails asking for everything. By the time I got home that night, I’d attended a dinner with divine jeweler Delfina Delletrez and my new bestie, actor Paolo Stella, where we dined over the most delicious al dente pasta known to man. Later we danced in a smoky, dark loft where a woman was selling turbans. This was not a Fellini film!
Sunday morning, MarcoBologna showed their F/W 2013 pre-collection. Think punk secretary separates and some very whimsical entomological prints. I may have been exhausted, but this show woke me up! Fernanda Gattinoni established her eponymous house in 1945 and her clientele reads like a virtual who’s who of La Dolce Vita from Anna Magnani and Evita Peron to Audrey Hepburn. The show I saw was more geared to Silvia Berlusconi’s infamous “bunga bunga” parties with the inclusion of thong clad négligée models who followed a slew of iridescent taffeta gowns that would have even made the late Nolan Miller shutter. Come to think of it, Gattinoni who passed in 2002, might be turning in her grave, too.
There was some fabulous fashion redemption at the annual Limited/Unlimited show held in the Tempio di Adriano. The Made in Italy designers all displayed one-of-a-kind red carpet gowns. Standouts included Goga Ashkenazi and her beautiful steel and citron Vionnet; Angelos Bratis and his coral draped goddess gown; plus an outstanding embroidered floral Valentino, an exuberant Fausto Puglisi reminiscent of Gianni Versace supermodel heyday; and Gucci’s plume gothic romantic Premiere showstopper.
It was quite a 180 when I went to the Curiel show directly after at the beautiful Turkish Embassy. Doyennes of Roman society, coifed and bejeweled, applauded for nearly every exit of thoroughly old-fashioned clothing. I was waiting for eighties supermodels Gia and Janice Dickinson to walk the anachronistic runway. Although the clothing is far-from-hip, Curiel clients like Hillary Clinton and legendary Gina Lollobrigida (who attended the show) have cause to celebrate. One thing is for certain: For the Italian Alta Roma to truly have a Renaissance, the Italians must see how the French keep their esteemed brands relevant and global. Unfortunately, most of the Italian Couture houses are in a time machine. However, the DNA is there. There is no reason why brands like Ballestra or the forgotten Biki cant’ shine as bright as Valentino or Pucci. And who can resist a weekend in Rome?”