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
Reflections on Life post Lockdown at MFW
By Alice Ierace and Elisa Carassai
Etro Kicking off day two of Milan Fashion Week was ETRO presenting its Men’s Spring Summer 2021...
By Alice Ierace and Elisa Carassai
By Alice Ierace and Elisa Carassai
Etro Kicking off day two of Milan Fashion Week was ETRO presenting its Men’s Spring Summer 2021 and Women’s Resort 2021 collections with an informal gathering at Milan’s iconic Four Seasons Hotel. “We are finally back together, in the garden of this iconic hotel, in the heart of Milan’s...
Etro Kicking off day two of Milan Fashion Week was ETRO presenting its Men’s Spring Summer 2021 and Women’s Resort 2021 collections with an informal gathering at Milan’s iconic Four Seasons Hotel. “We are finally back together, in the garden of this iconic hotel, in the heart of Milan’s Montenapoleone district. We want to highlight that we are a family, that Etro is a family living in a world...
White Mountaineering Brings Back BLK Line
By Elisa Carassai
Showcasing at Paris Fashion Week, ’s White Mountaineering is the creative baby of Japanese...
By Elisa Carassai
Showcasing at Paris Fashion Week, ’s White Mountaineering is the creative baby of Japanese designer Yosuke Aizawa. This season, the designer not only presented an exclusive film directed by Daito Manabe from the Rhizomatiks, but he also decided to relaunch his original BLK line. Launched in 2009,...
Showcasing at Paris Fashion Week, ’s White Mountaineering is the creative baby of Japanese designer Yosuke Aizawa. This season, the designer not only presented an exclusive film directed by Daito Manabe from the Rhizomatiks, but he also decided to relaunch his original BLK line. Launched in 2009, White Mountaineering’s BLK Line proposed a new feel to outdoor wear with high-spec textiles and...
Digital Meets Local at Sunnei
By Elisa Carassai
Before lockdown started, Loris Messina and Simone Rizzo...
By Elisa Carassai
By Elisa Carassai
Before lockdown started, Loris Messina and Simone Rizzo were supposed to move in their newly-bought building, Casa Sunnei. Not being able to move in, and stuck quarantining home, the duo started reflecting on what they could do to move forward, at a slower...
Before lockdown started, Loris Messina and Simone Rizzo were supposed to move in their newly-bought building, Casa Sunnei. Not being able to move in, and stuck quarantining home, the duo started reflecting on what they could do to move forward, at a slower pace.  “During the lockdown, I realized we were moving at a pace that was too fast - we were...
A Play of Poetics at MFW
By Elisa Carassai
MSGM’s Midsummer Night’s Dream Kicking off the first day of Milan’s Digital Fashion Week was...
By Elisa Carassai
By Elisa Carassai
MSGM’s Midsummer Night’s Dream Kicking off the first day of Milan’s Digital Fashion Week was Massimo Giorgetti’s MSGM, with a film celebrating the new Milanese generation of young creatives, as well as the joy of life post-lockdown. Inspired by writer Isabella Santacroce’s book Fluo: Storie di...
MSGM’s Midsummer Night’s Dream Kicking off the first day of Milan’s Digital Fashion Week was Massimo Giorgetti’s MSGM, with a film celebrating the new Milanese generation of young creatives, as well as the joy of life post-lockdown. Inspired by writer Isabella Santacroce’s book Fluo: Storie di Giovani a Riccione (“Fluo: Stories of Young People in Riccione”) – who also happens to be from...
Purity and Tradition Intertwine at MFW
By Alice Ierace
Prada and The Show That Never HappenedFew people do fashion quite like Miuccia Prada. After the...
By Alice Ierace
Prada and The Show That Never HappenedFew people do fashion quite like Miuccia Prada. After the announcement back in February stating that Raf Simons would become the brand’s new co-creative director, today we were lucky enough to witness Miuccia’s last solo collection – her final bow after three...
Prada and The Show That Never HappenedFew people do fashion quite like Miuccia Prada. After the announcement back in February stating that Raf Simons would become the brand’s new co-creative director, today we were lucky enough to witness Miuccia’s last solo collection – her final bow after three decades of unforgettable shows.Of course, a simple presentation wasn’t in the plan – it needed that...
Auralee’s Imaginary Journey Through Time
By Alice Ierace
Firstly launched in Tokyo, designer Ryota Iwai decided to present Auralee’s latest Spring/Summer...
By Alice Ierace
Firstly launched in Tokyo, designer Ryota Iwai decided to present Auralee’s latest Spring/Summer 21 collection during digital Paris Fashion Week as one of the major independent fashion brands.As a brand, Auralee is renowned for its magnificent clean silhouettes, impeccable quality and minimal...
Firstly launched in Tokyo, designer Ryota Iwai decided to present Auralee’s latest Spring/Summer 21 collection during digital Paris Fashion Week as one of the major independent fashion brands.As a brand, Auralee is renowned for its magnificent clean silhouettes, impeccable quality and minimal styling. Its aim? A full exploration into the development of their own fabrics. By taking inspiration...
A Triumph of the Sublime
By Alice Ierace and Elisa Carassai
Lanvin   A dream as reality – here’s, in essence,...
By Alice Ierace and Elisa Carassai
By Alice Ierace and Elisa Carassai
Lanvin   A dream as reality – here’s, in essence, what Lanvin’s show was all about. For the last day of Paris Fashion Week, Creative Director Bruno Sialelli decided to explore the notion of reverie, of memories real and make-believe, of fantastical...
Lanvin   A dream as reality – here’s, in essence, what Lanvin’s show was all about. For the last day of Paris Fashion Week, Creative Director Bruno Sialelli decided to explore the notion of reverie, of memories real and make-believe, of fantastical characters and invented narratives. A dialogue between two worlds, intertwined with a playful take...
Hybridists of the Fashion Sphere
By Alice Ierace and Ludovica Parisi
Streetwear meets Japanese Heritage at Facetasm...
By Alice Ierace and Ludovica Parisi
By Alice Ierace and Ludovica Parisi
Streetwear meets Japanese Heritage at Facetasm Show   Founded in 2007 by Japanese designer Hiromichi Ochiai, Facetasm embraces Tokyo’s essence through a variety of laid-back styles from the sportswear vibe. His ability to play with perspectives...
Streetwear meets Japanese Heritage at Facetasm Show   Founded in 2007 by Japanese designer Hiromichi Ochiai, Facetasm embraces Tokyo’s essence through a variety of laid-back styles from the sportswear vibe. His ability to play with perspectives categorises him as one of the most eclectic menswear and womenswear designers of the time. From unisex...