A.I. Artisanal Intelligence Fair at the National Museum of Palazzo Altemps and Angelica Library in Rome. Photos & text by Glenn Belverio



Dear Shaded Viewers,

One of the highlights of this edition of Alta Roma was the A.I. Artisanal Intelligence exhibit at the show-stopping Palazzo Altemps, home of Angelica Library which, starting in the 17th century, became the world’s first lending library. A.I. is a platform created by to unite art, craftsmanship and fashion in the name of Made in Italy.

For this editon of A.I., the common theme is “head.” The head and its representation, the head meant as pure thought and spirit, as a place for knowledge and research, as a fetish to be reproduced. The artists and designers who displayed their work at the Angelica Library represent what’s inside and outside the head.

“Rome becomes a model, Caput Divina for laical and divine inspiration,” say Clara Tosi Pamphili and Alessio de’ Navasques, organizers of the event. “The Fashion that is born in Rome is the daughter of the performance and the spectacle, and has always been closer to cinema than the catwalk: a neo-couture of unique pieces, unique works of art, inspired by millenial culture, from the palaces and the churches and the sounds of fountains.”



When I arrived at the Palazzo Altemps, I ran into designer Paola Balzano, who has some dresses in the exhibit.


There was definitely a special energy emanating from all those books from the 1600s and onwards.


Taxidermy as baroque art greeted me as I dropped by to see the hat designs of Naomi Goodsir (whom I had met a few nights before during a 3-hour long, Robert Altman-esque cocktail party in the gardens of the Dante Society at the Palazzo Firenze.)


Naomi Goodsir is an Australian living in Cannes who designs hats and bags handmade with carefully chosen materials and exceptional leather.




You know you’ve always wanted a handbag made out of metal (which could double as a weapon if anyone tries to mess with you), and now you’re in luck: Shooting bag by Alessandro Di Cola is a line of artistic yet functional accessories. A young artist who studied at the Accademia di Belle Arti in Rome, Di Cola has a distance from fashion which allows him to find new roads, experimenting with aluminum as a sewing material.




Sculpture by Davide Dormino. Dormino is particularly close to the world of fashion as a parallel world to modern art.


Dresses from the Fall 2013 collection of Paola Balzano. Paola studied at the Accademia di Costume e di Moda in Rome (where Diane and I met her in 2010) and later studied at Central Saint Martins in London, where she lives now. Her designs represent the image of nature as the only certainty.



Paola Balzano’s AW13 collection is entitled Chrysalis. “Inspired by the mysterious process that is hidden behind the protective and fragile cocoon, the theme of metamorphosis is the starting point: the Chrysalis, as the most delicate stage that the pupa has to through to become a butterfly, becomes a symbol of the personal process to achieve individuality.”


Designed by Istituto Europeo di Design graduate student Judita Daujotait

Designed by Istituto Europeo di Design graduate student Judita Daujotaité, this bag has a decidedly Schiaparelli vibe.


We were all intrigued by the very olde books and illustrations that were displayed around this most hallowed library.



Bags adorned with bullets by DoM. An emerging brand in the Italian handmade luxury sector. “The DoM brand is synonymous with the hummingbird, an extraordinary creature of tiny dimensions and small resources that knows how to gather and taste the beauty and harmony of nature, just as DoM knows how to interpret the love and passion of craftsmanship, the idea of beauty and the well-made.”


Diego Buongiorno and I in the library’s vestibule. Diego is a musician and his CD “The Bush” contains some tracks with Diane doing the voiceover.




We were all mad for the wildly imaginative masks designed by Simone Valsecchi. A true renaissance man, Simone has collaborated with Jean Paul Gaultier, Peter Greenway, Gianfranco Ferre and others and works as a stylist and also musuem curator and collector of museum-quality dresses starting from the 7th century. He was a lender to the Museo Fortuny for the exhibit “Diana Vreeland After Diana Vreeland.”





Here is Simone Valsecchi with a mask he created from various prescription medicine boxes (including some HIV medication) that belonged to some of his friends.



The pills as tears echo the tears tattoos that are sported by jailed murderers.


A disturbing and provocative piece, the pill box mask houses a real human skull.



On a lighter note,Genevieve Xhaet presented her collection Flapper in the library’s Dewey Decimal System card catalog area. Her wonderful turbans were inspired by such “pre-revolution, pro-feminist symbols” from the 1920s as Zelda Fitzgerald, Louise Brooks, Dorothy Parker and Lee Miller. Genevieve regards the turban as “a symbolic object of female freedom.”




Genevieve Xhaet





Photographs by Mustafa Sabbagh. Born in Amman, Jordan, Mustafa studied architecture in Italy and learned his craft as a photographer under the one and only Richard Avedon. He is considered “one of the 100 most important nude photographers in the world.”



Thanks for reading.

Baci, baci, baci,

Glenn Belverio


Glenn Belverio

Glenn Belverio is a writer and New Yorker. He has been reporting for ASVOF since 2005 and currently works at The Museum of Modern Art as the Content Manager for MoMA Design Store.