Dear Shaded Viewers,
Thanks to Mercedes Benz, we were shuttled all over various parts of Rome to the events of Alta Moda. On Tuesday, a rather unusual fashion presentation from designer Grimaldi Giardina was held at the Mercati di Traiano (below) inside the ruins of the Great Hall of the Markets of Trajan.
African drum beats resonated through the echoey hall as modern dancers dashed and spun ritualistically around a heart made of flower petals. It reminded me of Sandy Dennis's interpretative dance–"I dance like the wind!"–in Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? This was followed by quieter intervals where models simply walked and posed.
Later that night, I had dinner with Nunzia Garoffolo and Robb Young at a wonderful restaurant in Trastevere called Roma Sparita (Nunzia is friends with the trattoria's jovial owner). For apertivo I had deep-fried zucchini blossoms stuffed with mozzarella cheese and anchovy paste, deep-fried green olives stuffed with meat, and deep-fried (I know what you're thinking, but they use very good, very healthy olive oil for frying in Italy) stock fish. I also had some of Robb's caprese salad. My stomach is grumbling now just thinking about it!
For the main course, Nunzia and I both had the dish Roma Sparita is famous for: Tonnarelli Cacio e Pepe or, pasta with pecorino romano cheese and pepper. It's served inside a crispy bowl-shaped wafer made from the same cheese and pepper. It went well with the Sicilian wine we ordered.
The following evening there was an exhibit of photos by Chiara Boni titled, "Quello che le donne non dicono" as well as some fashion tableau vivant. We sipped prosecco and munched on finocchio crudite as Italian lounge classics, popular in the U.S. in the '50s and '60s, reverberated off of Santo Spirito's 13th-century frescoes. This is one of my favorites:
If this model runs too fast she'll take off like Sally Field in "The Flying Nun."
After the cocktail reception, we headed over to the Officina Arte al Borghetto for a party and fashion presentation by Res Nullius (above), which is designed by the Rome-based team of Masashi Ono from Japan and Irene Tortora from Switzerland. The collection "transformed archaic elements like the kimono" into more contemporary pieces. The philosophy behind the clothing is decidedly intellectual: "Res Nullius annuls the concept of size thanks to the 'fasten project' which removes the physical limits in the way of dressing. This is the revolution resulting from the Italian and Japanese cultures that fuse their legacy in traditional images and forms." Not sure I follow that, but the big pockets on the look above seem ideal for shoplifting during these trying economic times.
Red lips vs. black lips! Nunzia with one of the models from the show.
Nunzia with designer Masashi Ono
Nunzia I enjoyed the white wine, various apertivos and rotating DJs.
The marshmallow dessert was a circus on a plate!
Next stop on the Roma party circuit: Mussolini's fascist suburb of EUR…..
A group fashion show for Creativa' Liquida and dance party was held at the mysteriously named Room 26 night club in a building erected in the '30-'40s period when Mussolini envisioned EUR to be the "third Rome." Of course, the club hosts gay parties on Sunday nights since body-conscious homos usually feel right at home with fascism. I liked the clean, unembellished, modern lines of the space–a kind of neutered, or anally retentive, version of an ancient Roman temple. I would love to host a minimalist Roman orgy here and summon Jil Sander out of exile so she could design the togas. Philip Glass would do the music, no one would actually touch during the orgy….you get the picture.
I finally got to see my adorable friend Rinaldo Rocco at the party. A Milan-born, Rome-based writer, actor and jet-setter, Rinaldo had just returned tanned and relaxed from–where else?–Ibiza. (No, he doesn't have a lazy eye…it's just a bad camera flash moment. But this is the only photo I have of us together on this trip!)
I did not dance at the party because the DJ sets were completely generic and unimaginative…but if I was DJing, I would have thrown on this chestnut for some post-post-post irony:
The following night, Nunzia and I went to an eccentric group show, sponsored by the Istuto Europeo di Design, held out on the street on the via Giovanni Branca. Cyber Lullaby: Fashion Invades the City. Only in Europe kids, only in Europe…
After the show, we were off to trendy Pigneto (it's the new radical chic 'hood, darling…because the unwashed anarchism of San Lorenzo is so G8 2001…)
We met up with some of Nunzia's friends at Necci for wine and cake.
I felt right at home at Necci because it reminded me of the Mao Room in my apartment back in NYC…
Nunzia told me to take a photo of this portrait because she remembered that Diane really likes Pasolini. The openly gay and communist director shot scenes for his film "Accattone" at Necci. Fellini also hung out here back in the day.
No, you're not seeing things…that IS a portrait of Ron Jeremy in Necci's restroom.
Me and all of my new Italian friends (although Lenka, on the right, is from Slovakia–however she splits her time between London and Rome. I hope to visit her burlesque club in Rome if I return in January).
We wound down the evening with some chilled rose at Rinaldo's chic apartment near the Coliseum…
I was too mesmerized to take her photo, but I was amused by Rinaldo's houseguest: an Italian woman with an over-the-top British accent. Somehow we got on the topic of Japan and she painted a deliciously paranoid portrait of the murderous Shogun menace. She was so convincing that I started to worry that Japan would dispatch its Samurai army for a sneak attack on Rome. There'll be blood on the dance floor at the Vittoriano tonight!
Some things I saw while in Rome….
Yes, the bones and the mummy are real. I snuck this shot at the Crypt of the Capuchins and the custodian heard my camera click and she threw my ass back out on the Via Veneto. Thousands of monks were dug up so their bones could be glued together for a kind of macabre decoupage.
Further reading: Alta Roma Alta Moda, Part One by Glenn Belverio