An Altaroma targeted at youth in the Eternal City

The Eternal City suddenly seemed eternally young, after the four-day Altaroma, a novel mix of haute couture shows; debutant catwalks displays, exhibitions and talks featuring fashion, design and photography greats.
 
I’M Isola Marras fashion show at Altaroma in Rome

Including Who Is On Next? – Italy’s premier young talent competition in fashion - and a soiree to celebrate the capital’s premier fashion school, Accademia Costume & Moda that led to a busy weekend of activities that ended on Sunday night.
 
Altaroma also witnessed the passage of the baton from one generation to another as son took over from father when Antonio Marras handed over to his son Efisio, to debut his first collection for his dad’s youth-orientated line Isola Marras.
 
It turned out to be fashion rampage, where the cast of teenage girls and boys dashed around a construction site, shooting off blanks from toy Magnum pistols. They all ended up taking off their outer garments, stripped down to their underwear and started making out. It could have been a complete farce but the clothes were actually very good: ochre, yellow, mint and dusty pink mixes of leather jean jackets with floral print cuffs;  Pop Star knit cardigans; and sports bras with a new Isola Marras logo I’M.
 
“I never expected to take over from my father, but my dad just kind of announced it. I wanted real people; a questionable set and every day wear with easy shapes and silhouettes. My dad never was a fan of logos, but I an. So, here we go!” cheered son Efisio before he celebrated his debut by running around the runway set with all his models.
 
“I’m just here as backstage staff,” laughed Antonio, backstage, as he individually sent the models out on to the runway.
 
The show was staged in District Guido Reni, a restored military barracks located opposite the Zaha Hadid-designed Maxxi, the first new art museum in Rome in over half a century.
 
The various barracks contained a series of exhibitions, notably A.I. Prove Techniche di Transmissione, a novel presentation where young designers who work with advanced fabrics presented their wares, beside costumes by famous theatrical costumers. Most brilliantly, several brilliant Art Deco looks and fabulous exotic tourist outfits all by the justly famous Gianluca Falaschi.
 
Another remarkable mini exhibition was called Vanitas – featuring the private collection of a family of art historians, the Nobile Mino.  Set in a huge empty storage unit, it featured two giant, and rather wonderful, collages of art and objects that faced each other in opposition. On one side, oil paintings of  prosperous and proud rich Romans created to highlight their virtues of thrift and financial success. On the other collage, cardinals, princes of the church and saints where their very choice of fine vestments was meant to underline their virtues of gravitas and holiness.
 
The Roma fashion weekend has nowhere like the budget of rich fashion seasons in Milan, London or Paris, but it was clear the location of District Guido Reni had given Roman fashion a new lease of life.
 
The weekend also saw a whole series of talks and debates, including a round table with Italian photography greats like Giampaolo Barbieri.  Guido Reni was also the location of the joint finalists show of Who Is On Next? At which three leading Roman designers Pierpaolo Piccioli, Giambattista Valli and Marco Di Vincenzo sat front row.
 
The past is always close by in Rome – most clarly at Accademia Costume & Moda, which launched an initiative called Factory, when it opened its doors and presented a whole series of projects from its undergraduates and masters degree programs students. Most memorably a series of looks created by students working with Brioni; a brilliant series of theatrical toiles inspired by Pierre Marivaux’s The Game of Love and Chance; and some striking dyed caftans, whose starting point was Gustav Klimt, which were hung dramatically in the stairway of this unique college, located on the Tiber – looking across to the Vatican and Castel Sant’Angelo. The ever present past informing an ever evolving future.

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