Dear Shaded Viewers,
I was once again blessed to be in the beautiful city of Rome to checkup on what the Eternal City’s couturiers and young pret-a-porter designers have doing since I was last there in January. Because of the busy catwalk and cocktail schedule, I nary had time to wrap my keys in a lace handkerchief and toss them down onto the Spanish Steps! Here are my highlights from my 4 days in Mrs. Stone’s old stomping grounds….
Like last summer, couturier Lorenzo Riva showed his collection salon-style in a suite at the Exeder Hotel. His presentation is always a high point for me at AltaRoma. I love the way he casually banters with his clients who are perched on gilded sofas, flatters and flirts with his models and even takes questions from people in the audience. Some reached out, Polly Mellen-style, and touched the dresses to examine their fabric.
Riva’s collection was inspired by the British actress Kay Kendall who starred in a number of films in the ’40s and ’50s, including “Lady Godiva Rides Again.” In 1955 she co-starred with Rex Harrison in “The Constant Husband” and married Harrison in 1957.
Funny enough, I was just reading about Rex Harrison’s other wife, Rachel Roberts, in the book FURIOUS LOVE. Roberts visited Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton on the Sardinia set of BOOM! in 1967 and got rip-roaring drunk, according to the book’s authors, Sam Kashner and Nancy Schoenberger. “Suddenly, Rachel dropped to the floor of the bar and started barking like a dog, exciting the real dogs–Elizabeth’s Pekingese and Rachel’s basset hound. Thoroughly drunk, Rachel began masturbating her dog, ‘a lovely, sloppy old dog called Omar,’ Burton wrote. Elizabeth and Richard tried talking sense to the intoxicated woman; she answered them by again turning on her husband (Harrison) and cursing his three former wives.”
So Riva chose the seemingly more demure Harrison bride as a muse for his collection….we’ll leave the dog-masturbating wives to designers like Rick Owens!
I attended the prosecco toast to preview “Limited/Unlimited”, a fashion installation in a 19-century slaughterhouse curated by Susanna Cucco.
Designer Marco De Vincenzo, a winner of last year’s Who’s on Next? contest, and Nunzia Garoffolo of FashionBeyondFashion.
One of De Vincenzo’s designs.
Silvio Betterelli and his work. I had a really fun and delicious dinner with Silvio and Nunzia in Rome’s Jewish ghetto on Sunday night.
Vogue Italia Editor-in-Chief, Franca Sozzani. Franca has garnered a cult following on Twitter because of her amusing crypto-Taoist pronouncements. (Although, they were better when she first signed up. They’ve become a bit more conventional lately.) My favorite early Franca tweet? “So many designers, so few talented.” Ouch! She has since backpedalled with recent tweets like, “When I am in a jury and I have to decide the winner, I feel sad for all the other contestants.”
AltaRoma’s General Manager, the handsome Adriano Franchi outside La Pelanda slaughterhouse. (They could really give the place some hip, literary cache by re-naming it “Slaughterhouse-Five.”)
Pewter Palace: Welcome to the Palazzo Fendi, where I was invited to a luncheon to celebrate the release of “A Tailor-Made Guidebook, Rome.”
Nunzia on the roof of Palazzo Fendi
Nunzia loaned me her umbrella. I’m a sun worshipper but Rome’s noon sun was a bit much for me that day.
Nunzia and I bonded last year during AltaRoma when I found out that she’s from southern Italy, Reggio di Calabria, where my Great Grandfather was born.
The angelic Clara Tosi Pamphii, professor at the Accademia de Costume e di Moda.
We were invited to the atelier at Palazzo Valentino for a special peak at the maestro’s petite mains at work. A rare treat!
In collaboration with Valentino, artist Michelangelo Pistoletto applied this photographic version of the Last Supper on a mirror in the Palazzo’s showroom. Interesting to see that both Pistoletto AND Franca Sozzani appear to be in Christ’s place….on the far right is Silvio Betterelli, in Saint Matthew’s place. (And yes, that’s me in the pink polo in the background…)
I had a nice view from my hotel room in Monti
On Monday night, we were invited on a tour around Rome entitled “A. I. 1.: From Artificial Intelligence to Italian Artists and Artisans” with stops at ateliers in Testaccio, Trastevere, Monti and San Lorenzo.
The highlight of the tour was meeting Zolaykha Sherzad (above), a young designer from Kabul, Afghanistan who founded her brand, Zarif, in 2005. “2005 was an amazing time in Afghanistan,” she told me. “Everything was possible.” But things quickly became difficult again in the war-torn country and now Sherzad travels and works between Kabul and New York. She uses traditional fabrics made in Afghanistan for elegant, modern designs that merge Eastern attire with contemporary Western fashion.
The A. I. 1. stop in San Lorenzo–a neighborhood known for its resident left-wingers, anarchists, squatters and students–was at Pasticio Cerere, a former pasta factory. (I took the above photo in the building’s courtyard.) In the ’70s, a group of students from the Accademia di Belle Arti of Rome took over Cerere. They established a number of ateliers in the old factory and Cerere became a meeting place for artists, critics and art dealers.
Designer Myriam B. showed her clothing & accessories line in a studio at Cerere.
Hillary Alexander, fashion critic for the Daily Telegraph, took to Twitter and pronounced Corrado De Biase’s collection “sci-fi Marie Antoinette.”
Ilaria Venturini Fendi at the AltaRoma opening night cocktail at Hadrian’s Temple.
My friend Susan Sabet, who is the editor-in-chief of the Cairo-based fashion magazine Pashion, took this photo of Gina Lollobrigida at the Fausto Sarli show. (I wrote a paean to Ms. Lollobrigida when I photographed her in Rome last summer.)
During Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton’s time in Rome (when they were making “The Taming of the Shrew” in 1966 with Franco Zeffirelli) they met Robert and Ethel Kennedy at Princess Pignatelli’s home. According to the book FURIOUS LOVE, “Burton and Bobby Kennedy got into a poetry competition, each trying to outdo the other in reciting Shakespeare’s sonnets from memory. In the [Eden] hotel lobby, Richard won the contest by throwing back his head and roaring out Shakespeare’s 15th Sonnet (‘When I Consider Everything That Grows’) backward, without missing a syllable. Elizabeth, beaming with pride, said, ‘Isn’t it awful to have to tolerate this monster?'”
I had dinner at my favorite Roman pizza restaurant, Da Francesco, with my sexy friend Rinaldo Rocco, a Rome-based actor and screenwriter from Milan.
Rinaldo, me and Nunzia at Bernini’s Fountain in the Piazza Navona.
Double trouble with Nunzia: Swinging from the chandelier in the lobby of the hyper-luxe Leon’s Place Hotel 0n Via XX Settembre. The hotel is set in an 18th century palace and is designed by Hotelphilosophy Creative Dept. & Visionnaire by Ipe Cavalli.
Thanks for reading!