Happy Women's Day from BAU Rome!
Today we want to celebrate the WOMEN'S DAY with a tribute to three special women “MADE IN ITALY “, who with their nipped waist dresses and full skirts, redefined 20th century femininity and provided a benchmark for the haute couture and the ready-to-wear, for many years to come: Fontana Sisters.
Everything started in 1936 at the railway station of Traversetolo, a small village near Parma. Zoe pushed by her self confidence, the experience gained in Paris and the big dream to make her fortune in Rome or Milan, trusted the destiny with the task to decide her future: she took the first train departing from the tiny station of Traversetolo, without knowing the destination, if north or south, with the only solid determination to stop in the first biggest city on the road...the destiny decided for Rome.
In the capital city of the Italian aristocracy, Zoe worked as a couturier in the most famous ateliers of Rome serving clients such as Queen Elena and Gioia Marconi Braga, who later became - with her circle of friends - one of the most enthusiastic supporters of the sisters..Working with full dedication and commitment, Zoe "the golden scissors" gained such a reputation that first of all invited Micol and Joanna to reach her...then, together again, the three sisters started gaining their own clients with simple but smart marketing solutions such as by sending their employees dressed up for lunch in the streets of Rome with the goal to come back with new clients interested to buy the same dress ...
The sisters' passion for women's elegance, accessories, embroidery, early renaissance style, silk and velvet, made their fortune when Hollywood discovered Italy and "la dolce vita" in the 1950s. A crucial event was the marriage of the Hollywoodian actors Tyrone Power and Linda Christian, whose wedding gown of white satin was designed by the sisters with a five-yard train fully covered with embroidery. The international press covered the event and a radiant Linda Christian in a fairy tale princess gown, made the name Fontana incredibly popular all of a sudden.
When in 1951 the sisters accepted the invitation of Giovanni Battista Giorgini to join the first Italian fashion show held in Florence, at Palazzo Pitti, their name was already known to the international jet set. That same year Micol Fontana was introduced by Tyrone Power to the Hollywood community and from that moment women such as Ava Gardner, Elizabeth Taylor, Margaret Trujillo (the Santo Domingo dictator’s wife who ordered Sorelle Fontana’s atelier 150 dress), Grace Kelly, Margaret Truman (President Harry S. Truman’s daughter), Jackie Kennedy, Soraya Esfandiary, Marella Agnelli (of the family that runs the Fiat), Maria Pia di Savoia, (one of the daughters of last king of Italy, Umberto of Savoia) became some of their regular customers. In the '60s the sisters’ love for the USA continued to deepen and upon request of the American market, they introduced a line of ready-to-wear clothes and accessories, such as furs, umbrellas, scarves, costume jewelry, and table linen.
In her diary Micol - who was responsible for travelling and selling abroad, while Zoe was handling PR and Giovanna supervising work in the Roman atelier - wrote that she felt more at home in America than in Italy and that it was the special connection with Hollywood, the international film industry and jet set together with the inspiration received from the daily routine of the American working women, to give their collections such an incredible popularity. On the other hand, the Fontana touch and ingenuity is uniquely inspired by a mix of tangibles and intangibles that you can only understand if you live in Italy, walk in the Italian streets, think and eat Italian... think of some of their dresses that have been recognised timeless masterpieces of art, worth to be exposed in the Metropolitan Museums of NY, San Francisco, Venice ... , such as the scandalous "cassock dress" worn by Ava Gardner in the "Barefoot Contessa" that later inspired Mr Donati to design the dress that immortalized Anita Ekberg in her interpretation of Rome and "Dolce Vita".
The Bio of the 3 sisters provides a unique example of Women's entrepreneurship, achievements and dedication to what you are uniquely born for.
Happy Women's day from the Eternal City!