Rome - Eternal and exclusive
Rome celebrates the Alta Roma fashion event twice a year. Although you won’t find major trends in the making here, you could well spot designers enjoying dinner out and also snap up some fantastic bargains at the strictly exclusive shows
The front row, normally occupied by international VIPS – the likes of Anna Wintour, Victoria Beckham, Catherine Deneuve and George Clooney – is reserved for Rome’s high society: princesses with melodious names like Ruspoli, Colonna, Borghese and Doria Pamphilj, ambassadors and their wives, an occasional former Miss Italy and leading local politicians.
On the catwalk, mostly Italian models reveal what people will be wearing next summer or winter – at least if it’s up to the designers who show their creations not in Milan, but in Rome, which tends to play second fiddle in the fashion world. Twice a year, in January and July, the Eternal City celebrates Alta Roma within the majestic walls of Complesso Monumentale di Santo Spirito church, which dates from the eighth century and shares the banks of the Tiber with St. Peter’s Basilica and the Castel Sant Angelo.
The Romans certainly knew how to make a virtue of necessity. After the capital’s great couturiers, Valentino Garavani and Roberto Capucci among them, had pretty much retired and the world’s top designers opted for Milan or Paris, Alta Roma gradually became a relaxed, very intimate and thoroughly Roman fashion event.
Alta Roma, Tutta Roma and Hotel de Russie
In the shadow of St. Peter’s: The Eternal City provides an enchanting backdrop for this fashion event, and many of its ancient buildings are even used as show venues – the splendid Complesso Monumentale di Santo Spirito church, for example, where a highly exclusive audience takes in the most important shows.
www.altaroma.it (English and Italian)
All of Rome comes together at the shows – or at least all of those Romans considered important enough to receive an invitation. It’s the intimacy of this event that lends it its special charm. Not only do most of the models on the catwalk live in the Italian capital, but also the participating designers. Satellite shows, such as Fashion-Talk, are open to the general public.
Hotel de Russie:
How about an aperitif at the Stravinsky Bar? The Hotel de Russie is always THE place to be, whether before, during or after Alta Roma! Located on Piazza del Popolo, it is the preferred hostelry of Hollywood stars. Designers Valentino, Jimmy Choo and Alberta Ferretti and others regularly present their creations in its salons, suites and the hotel’s enchanting garden.
Hotel de Russie: Via del Babuino 9, Tel. +39-06/32 88 81. www.hotelderussie.it (English, German)
Roscioli, Sorelle Fontana and TAD
Roscioli used to be a traditional Italian bakery. That was before the current owner generation took over – and turned it into a glorious delicatessen store stocking a superb selection of wines. At the handful of hotly contested tables at the back of the store, models and designers lunch on fish carpaccio, caponata and the best spaghetti carbonara to be had anywhere in the Eternal City.
Roscioli: Via dei Giubbonari 21, Tel. +39-06/687 52 87. www.salumeriaroscioli.com (English, Italian)
For decades now, this legendary purveyor of haute couture has been the number one address for true divas – be they members of the nobility or Hollywood high society. Way back when, Anita Ekberg took a dip in the Trevi Fountain wearing a robe by Sorelle Fontana in the movie La Dolce Vita, a scene the world stlll remembers today. Other customers were Princess Soraya, Princess Grace of Monaco, Jacqueline Kennedy, Ava Gardner, Audrey Hepburn and Liz Taylor. Visits by telephone appointment only.
Sorelle Fontana: Via Fontanella Borghese 68/71, Tel. +39-06/68 13 54 06. www.sorellefontana.com (English, Italian, Chinese, Russian)
This concept store starts with flowers and finishes with coffee on the terrace. In between, shoppers will be delighted by a huge selection of fashions, furniture, cosmetics and books. Shopping at TAD is definitely not cheap, but you will find plenty of labels here that you might have trouble tracking down anywhere else.
TAD: Via Del Babuino 155/A, Tel. +39-06/32 69 51 31. www.wetad.it (Italian)
Photos:mauritius images, Corbis (2), Bonaventura/Paoni/laif (2)