For centuries, Italy has been inextricably linked to the fashion industry. Milan is internationally acknowledged as one of the most prominent fashion capitals, while Florence hosts major events such as Pitti Imagine, and is synonymous with craftsmanship, especially in leather, footwear and tailoring.
It would be foolish, however, to forget about Italy’s capital Rome, which is another big player in the fashion stakes. Here you will find the headquarters of mega labels such as Fendi, Valentino and Gucci. Twice a year, in January and July, the fashion pack descends on the Eternal City for AltaRoma, an established event that acts both as a launch pad for emerging designers and as a showcase for Italian couture.
The major players of Roman fashion are united in support of the initiative. “Fendi and Rome are bound together by a long-time love affair,” Silvia Venturini Fendi tells us. “Today we collaborate with Valentino and Gucci to promote the city.” Meanwhile, Valentino’s Creative Director Pierpaolo Piccioli explains, “Rome is special because of the identity factor. My haute couture shown in Paris is made here in Rome, by Roman women… and that makes a difference.”
The latest edition of AltaRoma took place in the Guido Reni District, a former industrial space, and was divided into three sections: The Fashion Hub promoting new talent; the Atelier showcasing couture houses, artisans and tailoring, and In Town focusing on fashion business.
One of the key components of the Fashion Hub is Who is on Next, a scouting project to find the fashion stars of the future. As well as an exhibition featuring the seven finalists from the previous edition, the catwalks hosted shows by previous winners and finalists. Highlights included 2016 prêt-à-porter winner Brognano, 2016 finalist Edith Marcel and 2014 finalist Marianna Cimini.
AltaRoma does not draw boundaries at Roman, or even Italian, fashion. As proof of its commitment to supporting emerging talent beyond its borders, it presents a collective show of some of the most promising Portuguese designers as part of an ongoing partnership with Portugal Fashion. This season, guests were treated to the AW17 collections from Pé de Chumbo (womenswear), Estelia Mendonça (menswear) and Susana Bettencourt (knitwear). Meanwhile, The Secrets of Couture exhibition featured contemporary interpretations from French Algerian Yacine Aouadi, Lebanon’s Hussein Bazaza, Krikor Jabotian from Beirut, as well as Italian Antonio Grimaldi.
Students from universities and academies, such as the Accademia Koefia, Instituto Europeo di Design (IED) di Roma and Accademia di Belle Arti di Roma, were also given the opportunity to present their work. At the Accademia Costume & Moda show, Ludovica Serra received the newly created Pitti Tutorship Award for her Innocence collection, inspired by porcelain, dolls and tattoos. Serra will benefit from a series of tutorials from Pitti Imagine’s Riccardo Vannetti to kick start her career.
From Fendi to fashion schools, AltaRoma has something to offer to the industry on every level, but what differentiates Rome’s fashion scene from those of other Italian cities? Professor Maria Luisa Frisa of Universita Luav di Venezia (IUAV) sums it up best: “Rome is special because people here have time to mingle, to lose themselves in the slow pace of the city and, in doing that, creative minds have time to think.” So, next time you’re in Rome, do as the Romans do, and unleash your creativity.
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Words / Huma Humayun
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