Italian fashion today is recognized as a beacon of luxury, elegance and glamour. Contemporary trendsetters and fashion lovers however need to thank the precursors of today’s Made in Italy: the seamstresses. Well before ready to wear took to the fore, seamstresses well heeled in the Italian traditions of embroidery, lace making and brimming with design flair, were elegantly dressing the peninsula’s bourgeoisie and nobility, as well as foreign dignitaries and icons. The patience for the creative process, the ingenuity, talent and taste run through the blood of the Italian peoples and in our fashion.
The mothers of Italian fashion: Sorelle Fontana
Micol, Zoe and Giovanna Fontana.
Italian fashion had three internationally renowned names before Valentino, Armani and Versace, and they were Micol, Zoe and Giovanna, the Fontana Sisters, and the founders of modern Italian fashion, so to speak.
Cobalt blue velvet and gold thread embroidered Sorelle Fontana Atelier evening gown.
Zoe, the eldest of the three daughters of a country tailor, was the first to venture in high fashion when she moved to Rome. Her sisters later followed and the trio became the sopranos of fashion soon after. In 1943, after the liberation of Rome from Fascism, the sisters move into a building in Via Veneto and start their own atelier. Audrey Hepburn in Sorelle Fontana Atelier.
Their privileged access to Hollywood starts with Mirna Loy buying all her costumes for movie That Dangerous Age in1947. The Sorelle Fontana broke into the US.
Linda Christian in Sorelle Fontana at her wedding to and Tyrone Power.
The following year, Linda Christian commissioned them her wedding dress for her nuptial to Tyrone Power and the rest is history. Magazine covers featuring their design catapulted the Fontana atelier into the limelight, and their designs into the most exclusive wardrobes of the era. US first ladies like Wallace Truman, Jackie Kennedy, Mamie Eisenhower actresses like Ava Gardner, Audrey Hepburn, Ingrid Bergman, Kim Novak, Grace Kelly, Anita Ekberg, Sofia Loren. Anita Ekberg in Sorelle Fontana in La Dolce Vita with Marcello Mastroianni.
Federico Fellini even asked the sisters to create the costumes for La Dolce Vita signing their names to one of the most iconic scenes in Italian, or even worldwide, cinema to date.
Ursula Andress wearing Sorelle Fontana Atelier.
Fashion history establishments of the likes of Metropolitan Museum in New York and Metropolitan Museum in San Francisco the Sorelle Fontana’s exquisitely manufactured garments sit side by side more international fashion icons in museum, Dior, Lanvin and Balenciaga.
Sketches of Sorelle Fontana Creations.
In 1994, Micol Fontana, the only surviving sister set up the Sorelle Fontana Foundation, a school and Italian haute couture museum.
Written by: Valentina Zannoni
Credits: Sorelle Fontana Foundation
Tagged with: #EXHIBITION
Here are the exhibitions that you can’t miss coming up in February, taking place from New York to Paris, and from LA to Milan. Here the 5 of the best to cast your eyes over.
Palazzo Braschi in Rome is the home of an exhibition which collates some of the most iconic looks from the movies by Italian costume designers. From Marie Antoinette’s extravagant gowns to Jep Gambardella’s red blazer, discover more about the people behind our favourite movie costumes.