november 13, 2020 - romaison

ROMAISON 2020 Rome, an extraordinary Maison: the archives and creations of its costume studios

From 23rd October until 29th November 2020, the Ara Pacis Museum will hold an exhibition showcasing the creativity of Rome’s costume studios. 

This exhibition weaves together tradition, artisanship, research and experimentation, opening the doors to these studios and revealing for the first time the collections of authentic historical pieces held in their archives. 

Rome, 22nd October 2020 - ROMAISON 2020 - Rome, an extraordinary Maison: the archives and creations of its costume studios opens to the public on 23rd October. This is the first edition of a project that has the wholehearted support of Rome’s Mayor, #virginiaraggi, which aims to display and promote the creative heritage that characterises the city, portraying the whole capital as being an extraordinary design studio. 

The initiative is promoted by Rome City Council. Organised by Zètema Progetto Cultura, with technical assistance from Rinascente. We would also like to thank Fondazione Cineteca di Bologna and Istituto Luce – Cinecittà and the Rome Film Festival

“Rome: capital of creativity. #romaison2020 tells the story of a unique city where #fashion and cinema have always woven a creative fabric appreciated the world over. The greatest directors and international productions have always chosen Rome for their masterpieces. Even in these historic times, this city is the perfect backdrop for making films, a laboratory in which you can carry out continuous research and create costumes. Cinema inspires #fashion and #fashion inspires cinema in a single time continuum. #romaison2020 is an innovative project curated with grace and diligence by Clara Tosi Pamphili: an homage to the history and skill of Rome’s costume studios, symbols of the Made in Italy brand.

This exhibition is a celebration of the stylish creations of Italy’s capital and the great names who have dressed, and continue to dress, the icons of cinema. This great industry is a real example of excellence and a circular economy: thanks to this cultural heritage, costumes are re-adapted, marrying innovation, sustainability and conservation. This industry, some of it covering three generations, allows thousands of outfits to become objects of study and research for many organisations, especially international #fashion houses and #fashion schools.

We would especially like to thank the extraordinary Tilda Swinton, a multi-talented artist who has chosen Rome to give a unique performance: Embodying Pasolini. A sign of the key role and continuous focus that cinema and #fashion have in Rome and Italy”, said Rome’s Mayor, #virginiaraggi. 

Located in the Ara Pacis Museum and curated by the historian and #fashion critic Clara Tosi Pamphili, the exhibition brings together Rome’s most important costume studios: Annamode, Costumi d’Arte - Peruzzi, Sartoria Farani, Laboratorio Pieroni, Tirelli Costumi, with sketches from the personal archive of Gabriele Mayer – a collection of recognised historical importance, which will be donated to the National Gallery of Modern and Contemporary Art ‑ and with a section dedicated to Mensura, the historical producer of mannequins. 

The exhibition starts with a map which allows you to see where the studios are located within the area, creating a kind of moving business museum. Then, you’re immersed in the environment of a great studio, recreated for the occasion: here, hard work, technique, artisanship and inspiration - typical themes in a studio atmosphere - interact with research and conservation, developed from the archives of each maison.

Tables, wall-mounted metal structures, platforms, these elements all trace the continuous cross-references between the creations and the studios’ extraordinary collections of original historic pieces: an archive nurtured with care and passion, over almost a century of activity.

This is a collection of genuine, often unseen treasures, a collection enhanced by continuous donations from private individuals, which help keep these remarkable archives alive and up to date. A game of associations is played between period pieces and costumes, exceptional dresses ranging from those by Charles Frederick Worth, the British #fashion designer to whom we owe our concept of #fashion, to examples by Paul Poiret; from Rome’s Maria Monaci Gallenga, whose blocks used for a special technique to print gold and silver onto velvet are exhibited here, to Madame Gres and Rome’s haute couture studios, like Schubert and Zecca. And the great names of French haute couture, like Christian Dior and Balenciaga, interact with the stunning costumes of The Conformist and The Last Emperor by Bernardo Bertolucci, and the famous Cleopatra, played by Elizabeth Taylor, with the dresses from Salò, or the 120 Days of Sodom by Pier Paolo Pasolini, or from Miss Marx, a success at the latest Venice Film Festival, right up to big-time TV series, like Penny Dreadful.

Costumes by great names such as Pescucci, Canonero, Atwood, Squarciapino, Donati, Tosi, and by younger exponents like Cantini Parrini and Torella, to name but a few, are placed alongside these studios’ magical archives of original historical pieces, their source of inspiration. 

The relationship between #fashion and costume design has always been “marvellously ambiguous, a parallel dimension of mutual inspiration that can be found especially in Rome” - as the curator writes in the text that introduces the exhibition - it is the thread that runs through this collection of diverse and fascinating stories, which have been written over more than a century, from the birth of Cinecittà in 1937 to the first international productions filmed in Rome’s studios, from the golden era to Italian cinema of today.

The line between #fashion and costume is blurred further by the timeless beauty and charm of some of cinema’s icons: Florinda Bolkan, who wore a genuine Gallenga dress as a costume in Investigation of a Citizen Above Suspicion, Donyale Luna - the first woman of colour to model on the cover of Vogue in 1966 - in Satyricon, Silvana Mangano, vivid and glamorous while wearing her Bvlgari parure with amethysts, quartzes and diamonds in Conversation Piece, Jane Fonda in the famous Barbarella

With the aim of highlighting a continuity between the past and the future of this genius loci, ROMAISON has a section dedicated to #fashion schools and academies which, through teaching that unites the study of tradition with experimentation, are nurturing new talent. Every week, on rotation, the exhibition will feature the best designs created by students from: Accademia di Alta #moda Koefia, Accademia di Belle Arti di #roma, Accademia di Costume e #moda, IED Istituto Europeo di Design, NABA Nuova Accademia di Belle Arti. 

To open the exhibition, ROMAISON launches its next project, scheduled for 2021: Embodying Pasolini, a performance conceived and curated by Olivier Saillard, world-renowned #fashion curator and ex-director of the Palais Galliera museum in Paris, reflects on the costumes created by Rome’s studios for the films of Pier Paolo Pasolini and features a modern icon of international cinema, Tilda Swinton. The Scottish actress, winner of a Golden Lion for career achievement at the Venice Film Festival, will play the central role in a performance that will reflect on the evocative power of the costume, which by turns becomes an alter ego, a partner, an opponent. 

Thanks to the valuable collaboration with the Fondazione Cinema per Roma, #romaison2020 launches at the Auditorium Parco della Musica during the Rome Film Festival with a pop-up promotional photographic exhibition. Until 25th October, an exclusive selection of photographs belonging to Rome’s prestigious costume studios will be on display in the Gallery between the Foyer Petrassi and the Teatro Studio.

After this, thanks to technical support from Rinascente, the photographic exhibition will be displayed in the Cavedio Interno courtyard at its flagship store on Via del Tritone. The windows of Rinascente’s stores in Rome will also be turned into little promotional scenes.