AltaRoma: A Beacon of Diversity in Fashion

“It’s a new generation that wants to speak about these things,” said Dior’s creative director Maria Grazia Chiuri after the Accademia Costume & Moda show during the 32nd instalment of AltaRoma. “I was born in Roma; there is a generation born in Roma that is now working around the world. But I think Roma is a place where you can approach fashion in a different way, especially if you are young. There is not so much pressure.” Indeed. The Rome fashion calendar has become renowned of late for its championing of young, emerging talent.


ACT N°1 FW18 show in Rome. Picture by Latrofa/AltaRoma.

Once the city of Haute Couture, Rome lost much of its sartorial identity after the shifting schedule moved couture to Paris and Rome became overshadowed by its bigger Milanese counterpart. But AltaRoma is working on carving out its own niche. Whereas showing in Milan comes with commercial constraints, AltaRoma allows its emerging designers much creative freedom and encourages them to be inspired by – and openly discuss – topics that matter both in Italy and around the world. And it shows: this season, the theme was diversity. The designers showing on the AltaRoma schedule were encouraged to be activists, and cited topics such as women’s empowerment, politics, and sexual harassment as the starting point of their collections.

The theme filtered down to the models on the runway. Marco Rambaldi casted women of all ages. His eclectic cast included 70-year old women alongside the more traditional teen models, and Valery, a transsexual model from Bologna. “We want to talk about transsexualism, for it to not be taboo,” he said backstage. “We want women of all ages to be free to do what they want.” He took the sexual liberation of women in the 1970s and prostitution houses as a starting point – but embroidered his sweaters with slogans such as ‘Come Out’ that bore a more contemporary relevance. The show, titled ‘We Want Roses Too,’ was a plea for equal rights for gay couples around the world. “It is political,” he said. “Especially in this moment, with all this stuff with sexual harassment around the world. We need to talk about it – we don’t want to make collections just for the sake of it. We need to have an important subject behind it.”


SADIE CLAYTON FW18 show in Rome. Picture by Latrofa/AltaRoma.

British designer Sadie Clayton’s runway was equally as distinct. She showed at AltaRoma in partnership with the UK Department of International Trade to really push the message of diversity – her casting included models of all ethnicities and physical capabilities. “I myself am mixed race, from a small, white, middle class village in northern England, so when we were approached to do a show about diversity, I was totally engaged because I am diverse,” said Clayton, speaking after her show that was held in the British Ambassador’s private residence in Rome. “The message really is whatever size you are, whatever colour you are, whatever age you are, you can wear what you want. This is the first time that Italy has ever staged a runway season where diversity has been the focus,” she said. “Let’s face it, there’s still racism within castings in fashion.”


ACT N°1 FW18 show in Rome. Picture by Latrofa/AltaRoma.

Others designers, too, used the catwalk as a vehicle to talk about political messaging or ethnicity: the winner of last year’s “Who Is On Next?” competition (held by AltaRoma in partnership with Vogue Italia), Act n°1’s show was staged in the National Gallery of Modern and Contemporary Art. The streetwear collection fused together the heritage of designers’ Luca Lin and Galib Gassanoff, mixing original prints and Chinese watercolour motifs with Azerbaijani craftsmanship. Kimono silks were mixed with tapestry rugs that were reworked into bomber jackets and asymmetric dresses and styled with jeans, hoodies, and nose rings.


MIAHATAMI FW18 show in Rome. Picture by Latrofa/AltaRoma.

Meanwhile, Miahatami took inspiration from the Iranian revolution led by Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi in 1963, when the Shah introduced various economic and social reforms to turn Iran into an industrial power that included giving women the right to vote. Soocha, meanwhile, referenced the second chapter of the Human Rights novel by Han Kang. Reflecting on the turbulent political climate and military repression in South Korea in the 1980s, designer SooJung Cha embroidered peace signs and poppies across padded puffer blankets that were worn cross-body and belted, like military armour.


SANNA SCHUBERT/POLIMODA installation in Rome in the context of the Artisanal Intelligence "Fifty Years Later" exhibition. Picture by Andrea Buccella.

And the message was taken off-runway, too. Artisanal Intelligence’s Fifty Years Later exhibit looked at subsequent generations of women in the aftermath of the 1968 fashion revolution. Also held at the National Gallery of Modern and Contemporary Art, co-curator Alessio de’ Navasques hand-selected students from the best fashion schools around the world, including Polimoda and London College of Fashion, to participate as “demonstrators.” “It’s based on the relationship with the body, with women’s condition, with ecology, with politics,” said de’ Navasques. Reprinted political flyers emblazoned with hashtags including #Utopia, #MyBodyMyChoice and #MeToo lay scattered across the floor in front of each mannequin. In the background, video footage of demonstrations from around the world from the last 50 years played on loop, on an old TV.


SOOCHA FW18 show in Rome. Picture by Latrofa/AltaRoma.

The Italian Trade Agency also launched its Showcase at AltaRoma this year, offering a platform for nascent brands to gain exposure with international press and buyers. Over the course of four days, forty emerging Italian brands that manufacture in Italy were given dedicated showroom space. The presence of these labels – and those such as Inês Torcato, hailing from Portugal, who showed on schedule at a special Portuguese Fashion show – reinforces AltaRoma’s more holistic approach to diversity. “For the new designers, AltaRoma is an excellent platform to both broaden the brand’s exposure and to raise the profile of Portuguese fashion internationally,” says João Rafael Koehler, President of ANJE – National Association of Young Entrepreneurs. “Otherwise, everything in Portugal would remain in Portugal. AltaRoma allows these designers to stand up and be counted.”

SHARE
  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Pinterest
SIMILAR ARTICLES
Travelling without moving at Armani Privé
By Gianluca Cantaro
“The idea of this show originated from a memory. In 1990 I used an ikat blanket I found in a flea...
By Gianluca Cantaro
“The idea of this show originated from a memory. In 1990 I used an ikat blanket I found in a flea market to tailor three jackets for the spring summer collection”, explained Giorgio Armani before the Privé show. “What I liked about this particular technique was the blurred effect of the motifs,...
“The idea of this show originated from a memory. In 1990 I used an ikat blanket I found in a flea market to tailor three jackets for the spring summer collection”, explained Giorgio Armani before the Privé show. “What I liked about this particular technique was the blurred effect of the motifs, the fact that the decorations were never well defined and I conveyed this concept by concealing the...
The Show Must Go On
By Elisabeta Tudor
Ready-to-wear fashion shows by top brands are often elaborate star-studded affairs. Haute Couture...
By Elisabeta Tudor
By Elisabeta Tudor
Ready-to-wear fashion shows by top brands are often elaborate star-studded affairs. Haute Couture shows, however, take the glitz and glamour to an entirely different level, and Paris' currently on-going high fashion extravaganza is no exception. Speaking of glitz and glam: over his 50-year-long...
Ready-to-wear fashion shows by top brands are often elaborate star-studded affairs. Haute Couture shows, however, take the glitz and glamour to an entirely different level, and Paris' currently on-going high fashion extravaganza is no exception. Speaking of glitz and glam: over his 50-year-long career, Jean Paul Gaultier has excelled at staging fun-filled Haute Couture shows at his headquarters...
Can Haute Couture Survive In The New Decade?
By Elisabeta Tudor
The answer is plain and simple: it has to, as the craftsmanship it is based on carries the hope...
By Elisabeta Tudor
The answer is plain and simple: it has to, as the craftsmanship it is based on carries the hope for a plausible form of sustainable fashion. And, according to the first Spring/Summer 2020 shows in Paris, there is a growing interest for Haute Couture itself and the levels of craftsmanship and...
The answer is plain and simple: it has to, as the craftsmanship it is based on carries the hope for a plausible form of sustainable fashion. And, according to the first Spring/Summer 2020 shows in Paris, there is a growing interest for Haute Couture itself and the levels of craftsmanship and textile innovation it implies. In fact, the Paris Haute Couture Week – which has just started today –...
Dior's Peplos-Wearing Feminists
By Gianluca Cantaro
Once again, Maria Grazia Chiuri proposed her...
By Gianluca Cantaro
By Gianluca Cantaro
Once again, Maria Grazia Chiuri proposed her feminist manifestos at today's Dior's Haute Couture show. This season, the 80-year-old American feminist artist Judy Chicago, who has been investigating the role of women in history and culture in her work....
Once again, Maria Grazia Chiuri proposed her feminist manifestos at today's Dior's Haute Couture show. This season, the 80-year-old American feminist artist Judy Chicago, who has been investigating the role of women in history and culture in her work. Chicago’s work inspired Chiuri, who collaborated with the French Maison on a series of exclusive...
At Lanvin Corto Maltese Got the Look
By Gianluca Cantaro
Bruno Sialelli, Creative Director at Lanvin, finally shook off the Loewe imprinting that was...
By Gianluca Cantaro
Bruno Sialelli, Creative Director at Lanvin, finally shook off the Loewe imprinting that was blurring his vision and delivered a Hugo Pratt's Corto Maltese inspired collection marking a substantial design switch from the previous ones, that somewhat resembled his past job at the Spanish brand....
Bruno Sialelli, Creative Director at Lanvin, finally shook off the Loewe imprinting that was blurring his vision and delivered a Hugo Pratt's Corto Maltese inspired collection marking a substantial design switch from the previous ones, that somewhat resembled his past job at the Spanish brand. Sialelli continued the collaboration with cartoonists, started when he first took the helm of the...
Paris Unveils a Man in All His Greatness
By Frédéric Martin-Bernard
At the beginning of the menswear season in Paris,...
By Frédéric Martin-Bernard
By Frédéric Martin-Bernard
At the beginning of the menswear season in Paris, Alexandre Mattiussi made a statement by celebrating the 9th anniversary of his label Ami with a birthday party that notably featured accordion music, red velvet curtains, and movie sets. The following day,...
At the beginning of the menswear season in Paris, Alexandre Mattiussi made a statement by celebrating the 9th anniversary of his label Ami with a birthday party that notably featured accordion music, red velvet curtains, and movie sets. The following day, Tahliah Debrett Barnett, aka FKA Twigs, performed live during Valentino's latest menswear show....
Paris Menswear’s Final Bow
By Marta Represa & Elisabeta Tudor
It might be a Fashion Week Sunday, but for Alejandro Gómez...
By Marta Represa & Elisabeta Tudor
By Marta Represa & Elisabeta Tudor
It might be a Fashion Week Sunday, but for Alejandro Gómez Palomo, that’s no excuse to forego church. The Andalusian designer reconnected with the Catholic heritage of his native Spain and turned a minimal concrete space in the 19ème arrondissement into...
It might be a Fashion Week Sunday, but for Alejandro Gómez Palomo, that’s no excuse to forego church. The Andalusian designer reconnected with the Catholic heritage of his native Spain and turned a minimal concrete space in the 19ème arrondissement into his own temple by having his models walk while carrying thuribles loaded with incense and Paschal...
Loewe's Playful Wardrobe
By Gianluca Cantaro
"I wanted to be optimistic and joyful,” explained Creative...
By Gianluca Cantaro
By Gianluca Cantaro
"I wanted to be optimistic and joyful,” explained Creative Director Jonathan Anderson after the Loewe show. "I imagined a child that plays with mom's ball gown in front of the mirror, giving a 2D effect to the 3D object.” Being positive is often...
"I wanted to be optimistic and joyful,” explained Creative Director Jonathan Anderson after the Loewe show. "I imagined a child that plays with mom's ball gown in front of the mirror, giving a 2D effect to the 3D object.” Being positive is often synonymous with being light-hearted, something that lets you enjoy life (and clothes) as it is without any...