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.
For “Rome Inspirations,” Pamphili and Navasques selected a dozen talents, some of them from Rome like Alessandro Di Cola who designs here for his brand ShootingBag1981, and others like Austria’s Arthur Arbesser who produces under his own name in Milan and won 2013s Who Is On Next prize and Braderic Ohmae from Vienna, to show their latest alongside works by contemporary artists from Guidi’s gallery including Matteo Montani, Pietro Fortuna, Eugenio Giliberti and Alfredo Pirri.
Between the art and fashion, Pamphili and Navasques slipped in characters from Rome’s dolce past and film fantasy. Whimsically sculptured shoes from the celebrated Albanese archives, costumes from “La Grande Bellezza” (The Great Beauty) by Sartoria Annamode, and vintage pieces by Sartoria Farani, the costumer of “La Meraviglie” (The Wonders), were a counterpoint to the art and fashion.
This private view had a whiff of contemporary Rome’s café society. Sculptor Davide Dormino invited vistitors to pose with a mysterious white scarf for his latest project, while Altaroma President Silvia Venturini Fendi, her daughter Leonetta Luciano Fendi, curator and fashion historian Maria Luisa Frisa, Bryan Boy and a bouquet from Italy’s art, literary and showbiz worlds, among them Eliana Miglio, Claudia Potenza, Paola Minaccioni, Margherita Buy, Andrea Bosca, and Alessandro Bergonzoni, strolled around for a Monday afternoon of talk, art, fashion, film lore, reminiscence and fun.
In every corner of the vast interconnecting space there was something to discover. Pamphili has a subtle eye, not just for juxtaposing art with fashion, but for understanding the ties between new style and vintage.
Mario Caruana from Sicily showed his handknit, hand sewn sweaters with geometric intarsia patterns for men in merino wool and cashmere, available exclusively by order (www.mariocaruana.it). After studying architecture in Florence, Caruana, 32, has been developing his collection over the past three years, working with hand knitters around Palermo. He’s particularly proud of his local production and the fact that no industrial washing process is used. Each sweater looks like a one-off made with love by a sophisticated Sicilian grandmother with a 1970s sense of proportion and color scheme. Caruana’s sweaters were spread out market style on a low platform next to color block 60s dresses from Sartoria Farani beneath a geometric painting by Marco Tirelli.
ShootingBag1981, in its third season, is the baby of Rome’s Alessandro Di Cola. A sculptor, Di Cola combines Mongolian horsehair and aluminum, which he pierces and twists into sculptured bags, mixing 19th century hunting style with his own design. This season, he covered the bags’ aluminum grillwork with camouflage electro prints. Aluminum is surprisingly lightweight, which is why Di Cola uses it for bags, but his pieces are also fascinating objects. Check out www.shootingbag1981.com and the virtual visit to his studio on Made in Town, an online guide and Paris gallery dedicated to exploring craftsmanship in fashion, design and gastronomy in Rome and beyond (http://made-in-town.com/alessandro-di-cola-du-metal-laccessoire).
“Roman Inspirations” began with archives from Albanese, the glamorous shoemaker from the 1950s and 60s with its compass, hula hoop and gold watch heels, and later on mouse flats, famously worn by Jackie Kennedy, Sophia Loren, Elizabeth Taylor and Claudia Cardinale. Two years ago, one could still order made-to-measure Albanese on Rome’s Via Lazio.
On the horizon is Nicolò Beretta’s Giannico. Beretta, 19, is from Milan, but he’s lived in Sydney since he was 14. Beretta remembers preferring accessories to toys when he was growing up and he launched Giannico after he met Manolo Blahnik and Vogue’s Franca Sozzani. His “Oh My Deer” slipper was chosen by Andrè Leon Talley as one of the top ten most memorable fashion objects of 2013 during the editor’s brief stint at Numero Russia. Last February Giannico took part in Vogue Talents and thecorner.com’s show at Palazzo Morando during Milan fashion week. Although over fifty years separates thier work, there are echoes of Albanese in Giannico’s gold balls, beaded bananas and “Valley of the Dolls” pill popping pumps.
While most of the fashion finds here had a strong connection with Italy, or Rome, Bradaric Ohmae, is from Vienna. Designers, Tanja Bradaric from Croatia, 30, and Japan’s Taro Ohmae, 29, met at Vienna’s University of Applied Arts. Bradaric studied under Raf Simons and Veronique Branquinho, and Ohmae with Branquinho and Bernhard Willhelm. Both have worked with Balenciaga and Chloe. BO’s SS14 “Under the Palm Trees” bags associate the trademark rattan of Austrian Thonet’s bentwood furniture with bright leather and nylon scoubidou knot straps. The designers have been playing with these materials since their debut SS12 collection, developed alongside ready-to-wear, available at Vienna’s Song.
It would take Federico Fellini, Anna Piaggi or Clara Tosi Pamphili to know how to mix the 50s style floral print pouf skirts and jeweled blouses of Mexican designer in Rome Andrès Romo with the mysterious sculpture of France’s Nora Renaud and her Adal jewelry in oxidized metal, leather and fabric.
A.I. perched the ancient nun’s costume from “La Grande Bellezza” by Sartoria Annamode over Renaud who worked on her pieces druing the show. It was a magical touch, as though the little sister had come to life and any minute we might meet The Great Beauty’s Jep Gambardella himself. RV