A.I. Roman Inspirations at AltaRoma in Rome. Photos & text by Glenn Belverio




Above: Designs by Arthur Arbesser; Paulo Mariotti of Brazilian Vogue, artist Luca Cruz Salvati and fashion designer Paola Balzano on the roof terrace of Giacomo Guidi gallery; photo in the exhibit of Monica Vitti from Antonioni’s masterpiece Red Desert

Dear Shaded Viewers,

Last month in Rome, A.I. (Artisanal Intelligence), curated by Clara Tosi Pamphili and Alessio de’ Navasques, staged its “Roman Inspirations” exhibition for the summer edition of AltaRoma. Held at the brand-new Giacomo Guidi gallery (the space is set to officially open in September) in what was a harmonic convergence of fashion, art and showbiz in Trastevere, between the Botanical Garden, the Tiber and the Gianicolo. Though of international standing, the artists who showcased their work have close ties to Rome–not necessarily because they were born here but because of the city’s creative and professional virtues.

Like last season, this A.I. show was one of the highlights of AltaRoma for me–largely because costumes and photos from some of my all-time favorite films were once again featured.



Gallerist Giacomo Guidi


Costume for a production of Wagner’s opera Das Rheingold designed by Santuzza Calì for atelier Sartoria Farani (where A.I. was staged last year). I should like to wear this when I’m strolling leisurely along the Tiber in the winter.


Costume for my favorte character in the film La Grande Bellezza, the Saint, designed by Nora Renaud. Remember, dolls: You can’t talk about poverty. You can only experience it. (She shut everyone down with that comment during Jeb’s diner party.)


Design from the brilliantly talented, Italian-Taiwanese designer, Paola Balzano. Her Fall 2014 Collection, “Enigma,” was inspired by botanical illustrations from an ancient tome entitled The Origins of Natural Species. The collection is made up of pencil skirts, tailored trousers, detachable sleeve coats, hooded jumpers and loose t-shirts in silk, cashmere, velvet, mohair and chiffon.

The Eastern touch of kimono sleeves and black flock imprinted on nude as a shadow play tatooed on the body are mixed with ornamental elements influenced by Art Deco and tailored cuts inspired from the Victorian age.



Two more designs from Paola Balzano


The queen of her era! Paola Balzano in one of her designs.



Paola’s designs were juxtaposed with two dresses from one of my favorite films, Liliana Cavani’s The Night Porter which takes place in post-war Vienna and stars Charlotte Rampling. The costumes were designed by Piero Tosi Annamode. The painting behind the black dress is by Maurizio Donzelli.


Handbag collection from ShootingBags1981 by Alessandro Di Cola. Designs that are at once art objects and utilitarian everyday bags, Di Cola’s pieces combine aluminum and camouflage electro prints. These lightweight pieces are guaranteed to turn heads as you’re schlepping off to the office or sprinting to cocktail hour.


Designer Alessandro Di Cola


Was quite thrilled to see this lace jacket in the show. It’s from an early Michelangelo Antonioni film, 1955’s Le Amiche. A personal favorite of mine, the film was shot in Turin and explores women’s changing roles in 1950s Italy.


What a treat to see some vintage shoe styles from Enzo Albanese. I believe he started designing in the ’50s, with a glamorous peak in the ’60s which continued on through the ’80s. Apparently you could still order custm-made shoes fron Albanese in Rone as recent as two years ago. Albanese was famous for designing shoes with animal themes (he famously inspired the Marc Jacobs mouse shoes in the early ’00s). As I was digging around the interwebs, I found this amusingly written article about Albanese from a 1989 issue of PEOPLE magazine:

For Real Haute Dogs, These Boots are Made for Stalking

At first glance, they may give you paws, but if the shoe fits, grin and bear it. That’s what Enzo Albanese, 55, senior member of the Italian shoe manufacturing family, decided when he created his line of animal flats. They’ve been a zoo-in at the family’s tony shoe salons ever since, flapping their ears and wiping their whiskers on some of the trendiest tootsies around—like those of Elizabeth Taylor, Sophia Loren, Gina Lollobrigida, Audrey Hepburn and Princess Caroline.

Enzo says his intent was to pay “homage to nature” through the designs, which are priced from $160 to $200 per pair ($150 for children’s). Perhaps because they also pay homage to a woman’s need for whimsy, the shoes, which are available at Albanese stores in New York and Boston, have been walking out at a rate of 45,00 pairs a season. “They sell themselves,” says Kiko Albanese, 25, who oversees the company’s U.S. operations. “They’re charming,” says designer Joan Vass, an Albanese customer. “They’re surreal but not scary.”

Top U.S. seller, and Enzo’s first design, is the Mouse, followed in popularity by the Panda, the Frog, the Rabbit and the Monkey. Other species currently available are the Ram, the Zebra and the Lion. Next season the family plans to introduce a litter of dogs for your dogs in the form of such purebreds as dalmatians, sharpeis and pointers. Also in the works are a snake and a butterfly.

Despite the exotic inspiration, the leather flats use no endangered feathers or hides. “We are very much concerned with the environment,” says Kiko, noting that the family is negotiating with the Italian World Wildlife Fund to contribute a portion of their Panda shoe profits on a regular basis. “We don’t think people should kill the animals,” he explains. “They should wear them.”


Enzo Albanase fits one of my favorite actresses of all time, Ursula Andress, in a pair of boots at his shop some time during the ’60s. Andress is a knock-out in the tour de force The 10th Victim and also Casino Royale.


Before Lady Gaga was born: Ursula Andress in The 10th Victim.




We were all mad for this Albanese fish design. Would be perfect for the Mermaid Parade in Coney Island.


Hula-hoop heels from Albanese.



Two costumes from the 2003 TV remake of The Roman Spring of Mrs. Stone worn by Helen Mirren. I loved this remake, especially the scene where Helen Mirren has sex with her hot hustler in a convertible out in the woods. Anne Bancroft is also suberb as the pimping Contessa who pines for the days of Il Duce’s rule.



Costume from The Canterbury Tales by Pier Paolo Pasolini, designed by Danilo Donato for Sartoria Farani.



Dress by Nicoletta Ercole for Sartoria Farani for Marco Ferreri’s film The Story of Piera.


Costumes for Luchino Visconti’s White Nights designed by Piero Tosi for Sartoria Annamode.


Costumes by Balestra from 1960.


Handbags by Borgenni.


Costumes worn by Sophia Loren in Vittorio De Sica’s Marriage Italian Style designed by Piero Tosi Annamode.


I have a weakness for metallic sneakers so I was coveting these heavily. Sneakers by Jenì.


More sublime styles from Jenì.


Costume by Balestra from 1960. I’m diggin’ it.


Design by Renato Balestra from the private collection of Sartoria Farani


Bags by Eugenio Giliberti


Design by Andrés Romo


Costume by Loredana Buscemi for Sartoria Farani for the 2014 film by Alice Rohrwacher The Wonders. It was worn by Monica Belluci.


Costume for the TV show “Canzonissima” by Danilo Donati for Sartoria Annamode


The demonstrative Davide Dormino, the visual artist, greeted me at the entrance of the gallery.


Thanks for reading.

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.