By Neelima Agrawal
The XXVII edition of the AltaRoma AltaModaunfolded from July 10th – 13th, 2015 in the historic city of Rome. The Luxury Chronicle flew down to Rome to capture the essence of this elegant event that brings into focus the fashion forward Italian couturiers, the beautiful city of Rome and its craftsmanship. The AltaRoma is considered the leading event in fashion in Italy, held twice a year in January and July. This year, for the first time, the grand building of the Palazzo delle Esposizioni on via Nazionale, hosted the fashion shows, inaugurations, exhibitions, previews and special projects. For four days the well shod feet of the most stylish women in Rome, trod up and down the steps of the Palazzo delle Esposizioni.
The AltaRoma fashion event was divided into three sections – Fashion Hub, Atelier, and In Town. This was a new experiment, and very successful one at that.
Focussed on scouting new projects, the academic education and promotion of young talents, the Fashion Hub’s opening show was A.I. – Creative Crimes, A.I. being Artisanal Intelligence. This research oriented initiative was a carefully curated project of more than 100 Italian and international artisans, artists and designers. The entire initiative was designed to create a laboratory of sorts to enable the growth of new designers and get maximum exposure. The A.I. and the Fashion Hub for this year’s event collaborated with IUAV of Venice and Rome’s Accademia di Costume. Some of the ‘stories’ featured were – Hats by Ilariuss, where the designer Ilaria Sencini drew inspiration from the world of Haute Couture and theatre. Dresses by Licke Pansters was the outcome of Pansters’ inspiration from the works of two old artists, architect and designer Italian Carlo Mollino and Russian Supermatist artist Nikolai Suetin. Fabrics by Pierre-Louis Mascia was immediately of interest to me as the mannequins were draped in Indian Saris. Accessories by Michele Chioccionlini was a line of men’s leather clutches inspired by pop imagery; Silvia Bergomi shirts for Naugy, a design idea that was about timeless uniforms for everyday wear; BB, and Luigi Borbone’s jewellery collection.
The “5+5” project was a mentoring initiative for young talents and aspiring designers. AltaRoma and Vogue Italia jointly supported emerging talents, under the aegis of which five well-established designers chose to work with five emerging talents. The works of all ten designers was showcased
Fashion shows, presentations and installations of couture houses showcasing Rome’s cultural heritage, of Italy’s most iconic couture brands made up the very critical element of the Altaroma Altamoda A-W 2015-16. Here are the best shows.
The luxury Italian label Curiel Couture opened the shows. Raffaella Curiel, the founder of the label, presented a line inspired by the grandeur of the Tudor dynasty, which lasted from late 14th to early 16th century, the height of the English renaissance period. Glorious dresses and gowns, conical silhouettes, puffed sleeves, ruffle collars, balloon rompers over hose, cuffs, collars, satin, velvet, black leather, skirts. Raffaella Curiel dedicated the collection to Queen Elizabeth II of England, and her regal 90 years. At the end of the show, three generations of Curiels, Rafaella, her daughter Gigliola and her granddaughter walked the length of the catwalk in style.
The renowned Milanese designer Ettore Bilotta presented an Haute Couture collection titled ‘Untouchables Women’. His muse was a woman who is mysterious, not too revealing, sensuous, beautiful, and yet unattainable like a Goddess. A grand collection. The show started with a tap dance by dancers Federico Pisano and Vanessa Cokaric, who pirouetted gracefully down the runway, recreating the style of the famous Ginger Rogers and Fred Astaire, of the Thirties era. The elegant collection got an ovation as lithe models sashayed down in one elegant dress after another. Ettore Bilotta is a hugely successful designer, much in demand outside of Italy.
The Lebanese designer Rani Zakhem paid homage to Hollywood glamour of the Twenties. The collection titled ‘Per Amore di Lola’ or For the Love of Lola, was an ode to Marlene Dietrich’s character Lola-Lola, a cabaret dancer in the movie ‘The Blue Angle’. The glamorous era of the 20th century, of exaggerated opulence, Art Deco, of gold lace, sheers, crystals, sequins, chiffons, crepes, tulle, drapes, plunging necklines, thigh high slits and dangerously sensuous women. Rani Zakhem rocked it. Gold, white, black and bold reds, a very contemporary collection referencing the Twenties glamour.
The famous Italian fashion designer Renato Balestra presented his show on the steps of his Atelier Balestra, located on the popular via Cola di Renzo. Renato Balestra Haute Couture collection for Autumn-Winter 2015-2016 was in every shade of grey, from pale pearl to brilliant silver, platinum and hematite. An exquisite, sumptuous collection, glamorous, with meticulous detailing, the finest dressmaking traditions integrated with the necessities of a modern life. Stiff fabrics matched with ultra-soft tonal satins. Beautiful herringbone embroidery on cocktail and evening wear, splash of blue teamed with black, inspired by Art Nouveau stained-glass windows. The bride in platinum is ultra-light with a “liquid” effect of hundreds of rivulets of diaphanous tulle and delicate mother-of-pearl embroidery.
I simply loved the shoes coordinated with each dress, which were designed by Balestra himself.
Altaroma In Town
This section featured several initiatives organized in the city, within the calendar of the Altaroma, such as openings or presentations at boutiques, exhibitions and installations, fashion shows at other venues. One of the most prominent event every year in this section is the World of Fashion, directed by Nino Graziano Luca, which took place at the grand venue of Hotel St Regis. Five designers from different parts of the world presented their Haute Couture lines. In the backdrop of the runway was a large canvas title ‘The Network’ by the brilliant artist Fabio Massimo Caruso.
Michelle Salins – India
Michelle Salins from India, who is already making waves internationally, participated for the first time. Her collection titled ‘An Affair to Remember’ received a resounding ovation.
Hendrik Vermeulen – South Africa
South African designer Hendrik Vermeulen presented their latest eco-conscious collection “I AM WATER ”. The absolutely stunning line was created around the theme of water, and was the result of a collaboration between The Hendrik Vermeulen Fashion House and “I Am Water Ocean Conservation Trust”, a Cape Town based “Non-Profit” organisation dedicated to the conservation of the oceans.
Lebanese designer Toufic Hatab presented his collection titled ‘Blend’. Italian label Tahm Couture’s designer Natalie Altomonte used recycled fur for her collection. Also there was Elio Acevedo from Argentina andLisbeth Camargo from Colombia.
Altaroma’s commitment to promoting young talents from the various fashion institutes was laudable and something to emulate. Students from Accademia Altieri Moda e Arte, Rome’s Academy of Fine Arts, Accademia Costume & Moda (Accademia Factory), Italian Academy, Accademia Koefia, Accademia di Moda Maiani, Accademia Nazionale dei Sartori and the Ida Ferri Fashion School, presented their final works and end-of-year projects on the Altaroma runways.