A.I. Artisanal Intelligence “Roman Inspirations” New Talents and Reflections From Clara Tosi Pamphili and Alessio de’ Navasques

Silvia Venturini Fendi, her daughter Leonetta Luciano Fendi, Clara Tosi Pamphilli, Andrea Buccella, Alessio de' Navasques, frinds and Nora Renaud of Adal at work as the little nun of "La Grande bellezza" observes

Silvia Venturini Fendi, her daughter Leonetta Luciano Fendi, Clara Tosi Pamphilli, Andrea Buccella, Alessio de’ Navasques, and fashion friends observe Adal’s Nora Renaud at work.

Giacomo Guidi’s new gallery, set to open in September at 17, Largo Cristina di Svezia, next to Rome’s Orto Botanico (botanical gardens) in Trastevere, was the launch pad for the curators of  A.I. Artisanal Intelligence, architect Clara Tosi Pamphili and Alessio de’ Navasques’ latest show “Roman Inspirations.”  A.I. stages shows twice a year, in January and July, in Rome during Altaroma to highlight the relationship between fashion, art, design, film and vintage. Their curation has also hit the road with an exhibition recently in Korea, and a show last June at the Bauer during Venice’s Biennale of Architecture.


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Maglifico! Flora and Fauna, Italian Knit Creativity Show at Altaroma

Maglifico! Flora and Fauna, open through July 24, 2014, in the stables of Rome’s Palazzo Ruspoli, offers a trip through the creative history of Italian knitwear curated by fashion journalist Federico Poletti and Modateca Deanna with funding by Woolmark. Architect Danilo Reale created a lush “jugle fever” scenography with green garden designer and writer Carlo Contsso for the show. Poletti reached into the archives of Modateca Deanna and others to cherry pick amazing knit pieces inspired by animal skins, flowers and other bits of wildlife. Beginning with Krizia, the Italian brand that launched a cult for animal sweaters in the late 70s/early 80s, designers including Roberto Cavalli, Cheap & Chic by Moschino, Laura Biagiotti, Valentino, Kenzo and many others have filled their fashion with flora and fauna inspirations in knits.

Fendi knitwear

Maison Martin Margiela knitwear

Maison Martin Margiela 1994/95 2003/04

Adrienne Vittadini, knitwear

Adrienne Vittadini, 1992

Leitmotif knitwear

Leitmotiv 2012/13

Kenzo by Antonio Marras, knitwear

Kenzo by Antonio Marras, 2011

A hairy animal spot jumpsuit from Jean Paul Gaultier, a yeti style sweater by Fendi, a shaggy animal jacket from Maison Martin Margiela, 3-D flowers perched on the shoulder of a halter top by young Italian brand Leitmotiv, or a giant daisy growing up the front of a dress by Enrico Coveri are some of the outstanding pieces in the show, some which are shown here for the first time.

Federico Poletti knitwear

Federico Poletti wit a jumpsuit by Jean Paul Gaultier 1987

Behind every great designer is a creative army of talent, and usually at least one knit wizard. Knitwear, became extremely popular in  fashion in the 1920s, pioneered by Coco Chanel and others, eager to offer women comfort. And the art of knitting, by hand or machine, has always been a specialty in Italy with ateliers large and small inventing new yarns, stitches and finishes to help designers eager to take knitwear to places it has never been before.

One of the most creative was Miss Deanna, run for over fifty years by the indefatigable Deanna Ferretti Veroni, a designer herself and knit technician who opened her first studio in the 1960s in a garage in northern Italy’s Reggio Emilia. Miss Deanna was the go to Italian knitwear factory for Margiela, Versace, Yamamoto and many others. Today Veroni and her daughter Sonia run Modateca Deanna, a knit archive open to students and fashion researchers with over 50,000 garments from Miss Deanna’s production, but also historic pieces going back decades.

Flora and Fauna was first shown in Milan at the Palazzo Morando and last February in Paris at the Premiere Vision fabric fair. Maglifico! is a new communication tool created by Federico Poletti to promote Italian knitwear intelligence via books, travelling exhibitions, installations and its website maglifico.com that will relaunch in September 2014. RV

Enrico Coveri, knitwear

Enrico Coveri, 1991

Fabio Quaranta, Sartorial Rustic Rome, Altaroma SS 2015


Rome’s native son Fabio Quaranta took to the runway at the Complesso Monumentale S. Spirito in Sassia, just around the corner from the Vatican, on the second day of Altaroma. Quaranta lives and works in Rome and his sophisitcated blend of tailoring and workwear for men (and women who like to borrow their clothes) reflects the laid back cool of this city. He street cast the show including one of his customers, an organist at a nearby church who played a morning service beforehand. Quaranta zeroed in on the timeless high/low style of artists, a mix of dressed-up and dressed-down that takes them from a dusty atelier to dinner at a trattoria in Rome’s Monti. Quaranta’s store, Motelsalieri (162 via Giovanni Lanza/ http://www.motelsalieri.com/) in Monti stocks his label, Carol Christian Poell, Comme des Garçons, Junya Watanabe, and also doubles as a performance space for the musicians and artists he loves.








As Quaranta describes his look in the show notes: “It’s the aesthetic dichotomy found among certain names in art, music and literature, the protagonists of the last fifty years of international culture.” He name checked a few of these strong identities: William Burroughs, Joseph Beuys, Marcel Duhamp, George Harrison, the more contemporary Michael Gira and Billy Childish, and a few more obscure names including Little Annie (aka Little Annie Anxiety Bandez, a New York City singer, songwriter, painter, poet, writer, performing and recording artist, pastor and stage actor) and Douglas P. (aka Douglas Pierce, an English folk musician, record label owner, photographer and actor who records under the name Death in June).



The collection’s tailored jackets and coats in workwear fabrics and square cut vests with workwear zippers showed in natural colors and interesting mixtures of silk, fine cotton and Italian denim. Quaranta opted for a roomy fit inspired by 1940s workwear and used mini camouflage for jacquards that gave his southern Italian country gentleman look a dose of pop.



Altaroma is  traditionally for women, but Quaranta showed both. And it’s not that he’s added a women’s collection. At least not yet. Right now, the label’s female fans just take what they want from the boys. “Many women wear my clothes, so it seemed natural to show menswear on both,“ he said backstage. “So far, the only thing we’ve had to do specifically for women is the shoes.”

Luigi Borbone, Handpainted Simplicity, Altaroma FW 14/15


Luigi Borbone’s flowing caftans, in patterned silks, Swarovski elements and whimsically handpainted Latex, opened Altaroma on Saturday afternoon at the Palazzo Corsini, a baroque palace in Rome’s arty Trastevere neighborhood. Borbone, trained as an architect and studied fashion at Central Saint Martins before returning to Rome where he was first featured by Altaroma in 2012.


Borbone favors the simplicity of pure, geometric shapes and in this collection was inspired by iconic women from the Middle Ages and what he calls a “distrubing” Marie Antoinette. Clara Tosi Pamphili art directed the show that featured original music from Diego Buongiorno and new French chanteuse Loane.






Jean Paul Gaultier Plays the Twilight Zone, Haute Couture FW14/15

all photos by Thoal Niradeth for JPG

all photos by Thoal Niradeth for JPG

I suspected there were bats in the belfry chez Jean Paul Gaultier when I was handed a seat assignment for a section called “Chroniques des Vampires.” Gaultier has a wicked sense of humor; it’s an integral part of his talent. Christened fashion’s ‘enfant terrible’ at his start in the 80s, he is now a diabolical sage wielding his mastery of couture craft with a sizzling streak of Parisian irony that can be charming, unsettling, and is usually a bit of both.


The witchery was nonstop. The show opened with Edwardian mille feuille pleat organza sleeves on a black crepe turtleneck tunic over pants; it was a perfect balance of ornate detail and clean shape with gothic undertones. The ethereal senior model à la Carmen Dell’Orefice was genius JPG, even though her balancing act on sky high heels sent shivers down the spine.






Gaultier played the twilight zone style classics for all the fun and couture finesse he could extract from them. Those mille feuille pleats turned up everywhere. A cape collar formalized a blouson in gleaming calfskin, a jogging jumpsuit was covered in jet beading, and a dominatrix leather skirt was paired with an organza lace cloud twisted into a blouse. One mink bustier dress showed just a hint of the ghostly white lace slip and ballerina tutu petticoat lurking underneath, and silver, skeletal embroidered chain “pinstripes” ended up fringing the hem of a suit. Fur was lethal. Partially shaved musk rat made for a great Cruella Deville skirt worn with a reversible brown to white leather wrap-around jacket. Mid-way through the show I thought I’d seen a ghost. Turned out it was Anna, the daughter of legendary 80s model Pat Cleveland who vamped down the runway just like her mother used to in a transparent silk stole striped with bands of mink. One regrets the lack of theatrical characters like Cleveland on the runway these days.







Throughout this macabre tongue-in-cheek drama, Gaultier developed the collection’s real story, a blend of haute and casual that brings couture forward. There’s nothing spooky about a hoodie in grey guipure lace, silk velvet jogging pants, Harris tweed warm-up suit, or a sport jumpsuit in mini pleat silk jersey. These were the real winners in this collection.




With Marilyn Manson blaring nonstop, the mood became a bit black sabbath for the show’s finale with one erotic mousseline baby doll tent making the sign of the cross with a sparkly red Swarovski thong that barely covered a girl’s essentials. And Gaultier couldn’t resist casting Vienna’s bearded cross dresser Conchita Wurst, this year’s Eurovision Song Contest winner, as “Zizi Imperatrice,” his naughty French word play for Empress Sissi, Europe’s ultimate fairytale princess. After that bearded beauty’s passage, the show’s bride, a vision in a skinny white sock knit sheath with a pair of mille feuille organza angel wings, floated in like a heavenly breeze. RV



Bouchra Jarrar’s Haute Perfecto, Haute Couture FW14/15


It’s no secret that Bouchra Jarrar has a soft place in her heart for what the French call the perfecto jacket. It’s a perennial in her collections but in this show, the biker classic was omnipresent. Since her start in 2010, Jarrar has played the couture tailor. In the midst of Paris’s haute evening poufs, she delivers credible daytime couture for women who one imagines go to work both before and after lunch. This has inevitably led her into menswear interpretations. Jarrar has repeatedly taken the trench, monk’s kimono and military dress coat, transforming them with asymmetrical cuts, stylized flounces rich fabrics and embellishment until they become truly couture, feminine and very Bouchra.


The couture collections presented in Paris this week have been full of feminized menswear from the embroidered flight suits by Raf Simons at Christian Dior to pajama tops and ball gowns from Giambattista Valli and the bike shorts Karl Lagerfeld showed under every skirt at Chanel. So Jarrar was right on trend as she turned the perfecto into a scarf-like accessory displaying a bare back, as a dress in iridescent tweed unzipping to leather, or a precious bird in black and white feather stripes. The biker variations were scattered throughout this sporty collection. The perfecto was cinched at the waist, flounced with a slinky-style peplum, and elaborately patchworked in a mix of tweed, glazed leather, feathers and Lesage crystal embroidery.


This is Jarrar’s second outing as an official French Haute Couturier having been given the appellation by the Chambre Syndicale last December, but instead of adding gravitas, the acceptance seems to have acted like an elixir of youth on the house’s style. The silky polos, sporty side-striped pants and school girl oxford lace-ups with mini chain trim put a gamine spin on couture. RV


Damir Doma Orchid Man, Paris Men’s SS15


Mérit Oppenheim’s 1980 “Portrait with Tattoos,” a close up of the artist’s face superimposed with the markings of butterfly wings, was prominent on Damir Doma’s mood board this season and the idea of symmetry and irregularities in nature was on his mind. In its seventh year, his eponymous label isn’t brand new, nor entrenched, just growing steadily. To shine the light on his brand, Doma opened the doors to his house for an installation, film and magazine with art direction by Tiffany Godoy, images by Carlotta Manaigo, soundscapes by Fédéric Sanchez and visual effects from Daniel Adric.



The collection was ultra-simple: ¾ coat jackets in stiff silk; wide, cropped pants in palm frond patterned jacquard; a scarf neck tunic in slubbed stripes on a translucent ground; clean blouson with an asian V-neck and distressed rib waist; vest multi-belted across the chest, and orchid markings in prints, on cut velvet and cut outs on tunics and body tracing shirt jackets. All this made for an elegant, casual wardrobe that defies stereotypes and age brackets in loose, effortless style to wear with sleek, thick-strapped snadals. RV


Louis Vuitton, Flying High in Jaipur, Paris Men’s SS15


Volez, Voguez, Voyager—Fly, Sail, Travel—Louis Vuitton’s mantra this season, inspired by early 20th century LV graphics, was an invitation to take off; what could be more luxurious than that? Kim Jones’s seasonal travels have introduced so many exotic stimuli into menswear from Masai-inspired plaids for his SS12 debut to FW13’s “Garden in Hell” print with the Chapman brothers inspired by the kingdom of Bhutan…So where next? Answer: India. Taking advice he had long ago from Louise Wilson, and also because his parents named him after Rudyard Kipling’s “Kim,” Jones spent ten days travelling in and around Rajasthan from Jaipur to the Taj Mahal.


And from that visit came an injection of color, pattern, handwork, military tailoring, and a new higher waist and slightly flared leg for Louis Vuitton. Jones dedicated the collection to Wilson who passed away recently. And he explored several new directions for menswear.





Chiffon, zigzag pattern short sleeve shirts flew like bright,Indian flags teamed with high waist, sundial buckled trousers. There was a slight seventies feeling here, but it’s more about the guards of the palaces in Rajasthan than hippies. Bomber jackets, flight suits and patchwork polos in pink, orange and khaki evoked jodhpur princes in the air and on horseback while the white and black croc sneakers were the latest in casual opulence. Meanwhile, new trunk designs, one with everything a composer needs and a guitar case with sheepskin lining updated Louis Vuitton’s special order offer. Finally, taking the bomber and flight suit into indigo blue and covering it with Indian Shisha mirrored embroidery, a hybrid of Indian embellishment and military style, was something out of the blue from one of fashion’s most free-flowing minds. RV

Rick Owens’ Faun on Springblades, Paris Men’s SS15


When one thinks of the Ballet Russes, so frequently mined in fashion, most memorably by Yves Saint Laurent in his spring 1976 couture collection, one imagines a sniewy, androgynous creature. So when Rick Owens mentioned Nijinsky’s “l’Après-Midi d’un Faune” as inspiration, it was a surprise to see how he brought this into his own, more substantial, chunkier, men’s wear. As usual, the first look said the most: a stiff, bleached denim tunic with geometric seaming and hem destruction over huge, stand-away black shorts and the best shoe collaboration: a rubbery, pinched-together, boot in pewter metallic or matte white with a squishy Adidas Springblade sole.




The tunics gradually became dress-like and some of Owens’ fauns were sprayed head to toe in the collection’s clay colors. There was little distinction between jackets and coats here; a reminder of the simplified, multipurpose way men dress today. Mid-show, Owens turned into a sculptor, twisting fabric around the body in proper faun mode, but he was soon back to tunics, mixing leather and silky fabric color blocks. One-shoulder chest harnesses were warrior-like, and the full body embroideries on color block coats were marvelous flights of fancy. RV


Images by Valerio Mezzanotti

Komakino Bad Boy Dreaming, Paris Men’s SS15

Frederico Capalbo [1]_opt

Federico Capalbo, 32, is that rare thing, an Italian designing in London. And his collection Komakino, named after a Joy Division song and launched in 2007, is just as crossover as he is. The production is in Italy and that, along with Capalbo’s sexy austerity and the fact that’s he is Italian, gives a certain polish and sensuousness to this street wise collection. Shown in a small Paris gallery, it offered a stylistic dream vision of tough boys with an anarchic London accent. The clothes are slightly menacing in a quite elegant way. The basketball shorts in fine wool and Capalbo’s rendering of the MA-1 bomber jacket looked chic in black and grey. Capalbo mixed the sports shapes with tailoring, and treated the tailoring in sport fabric. He’s into slogans as evidenced by Komakino’s “High Tech Low Life” on shirt plackets and elsewhere. And he has inserted a certain surgical element with “biopsy” cuts that allow a slash of fluorescent color to shine through the seaming of his moody, dark pieces. RV