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Articles by: Kayla Pantano

  • Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi and President Barack Obama
    Facts & Stories

    White House to Hold Glitzy State Dinner for Italy

    On Tuesday evening, President Obama and the First Lady will roll out the red carpet for Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi and his wife, Agnese Landini, at the White House for what is likely to be the final state dinner of the Obama administration. The 13th of Obama’s Presidency, it is guaranteed to be a flashy soiree for the books.

    White House Offers Support to a Reliable Ally

    Assuming the position in February 2014, Renzi is the youngest prime minister in modern Italian history at 41 years old. Known for his ambitious and charismatic persona, Obama, for one, is a fan. After a White House meeting with Renzi in 2015, the President said that his "willingness to challenge the status quo and to look to the future [had] made him a leading voice in Europe,” according to The Washington Post.

    Following the UK’s vote to withdraw from the EU and tensions between Chancellor of Germany Angela Merkel and Obama over US spying allegations and trade, Renzi has become increasingly crucial for US-European relations. The Prime Minister, who is also the leader of Italy's Democratic Party, is presently working closely with the US on supporting the UN-backed unity government in Libya, and has allowed the US to conduct drone strikes out of an American base in Sicily against the Islamic State in Libya and other countries in northern Africa.

    A statement by Press Secretary John Earnest reads, “Renzi's visit will be an opportunity to celebrate the depth and breadth of our relationship with Italy and to exchange views on the future of Europe.” He continues, “Italy is one of our closest and strongest allies, and we cooperate across a range of shared interests, from addressing climate change and the global refugee crisis to promoting global security and inclusive economic growth.”

    Michelle Obama to Host Italian First Lady

    Renzi and his wife have reached Washington, D.C, on the night of Monday, October 17, for a visit lasting through Wednesday, October 19. As part of a spousal program, Mrs. Obama will give Mrs. Landini a tour of the Kitchen Garden, which she planted in the spring of 2009 with the help of local elementary schoolchildren. During her time at the capital, students from a school in the Turnaround Arts program will also treat Landini to a special performance.

    Meanwhile, Renzi and Obama will participate in a joint press conference on Tuesday before making their way to a lavishly decorated tent on the South Lawn for the dinner. The trip will also include a visit to Arlington National Cemetery and a lunch arranged by the Center for American Progress, a Democratic think tank. On his last day in the States, Renzi will make a speech at John Hopkins University.

    State Dinner Arranges for all the Bells and Whistles

    The highlight of their visit will undoubtedly be the dinner, and what an affair it will be. Only fitting for the First Family to welcome the best celebrity guests for a last hurrah, high-end chef and host of The Chew, Mario Batali will help prepare the food and singer Gwen Stefani will provide the entertainment. Though other key details are still under wraps, the occasion is keenly anticipated to be replete with glitz and glam. Odds are Michelle will shy away from wearing a lesser-known designer and don an Italian classic, like Giorgio Armani, who will be in attendance as part of Renzi’s Italian entourage.

    Mrs. Obama met with Batali back in September at his Greenwich Village restaurant, Babbo, for two hours to sample a variety of appetizers, entrees, and desserts. Along with her team of White House staffers, they voted on their favorites in private and sent him the menu three days later. But an excited Batali only revealed that he will be using ingredients of the season, such as sweet potatoes, winter squash, and hearty cruciferous vegetables. Officials also disclosed that the 500 guests could expect “traditional Italian dishes that have been ingrained in American cuisine.”

    In addition to Armani, Renzi’s group of notable Italians includes Academy Award winners Roberto Benigni of Life is Beautiful and director Paolo Sorrentino of The Great Beauty. He also invited: Fabiola Gianotti, director-general of CERN, the European Organization for Nuclear Research; Raffaele Cantone, president of Italy’s anti-corruption authority; Paola Antonelli, senior curator of the MoMa’s department of architecture and design; and Beatrice Vio, Paralympic wheelchair fencer champion. "It's wonderful that the Italian delegation isn't just institutional," Renzi said.

  • NIAF Gala 2015
    Facts & Stories

    NIAF to Celebrate 41st Anniversary Gala

    On October 14-15, the National Italian American Foundation (NIAF) hosts its 41st Anniversary Gala at the Washington Marriott Wardman Park Hotel in Washington, D.C. Held during National Italian American Heritage Month, this exciting two-day event features a wide array of educational and cultural activities that celebrate the best of Italy here in the United States. The weekend is packed with an abundance of food and beverage, including cooking demonstrations and a wine pavilion, along with giveaways, meet and greets, film screenings, and workshops. The highlight is the concluding black-tie awards dinner that will honor film directors Joe and Anthony Russo, Football Hall of Famer Franco Harris, and singer-songwriter Tony Renis, among many others.

    Founded in 1975, NIAF is a non-profit organization dedicated to preserving and protecting Italian American heritage and culture. The foundation serves as a resource for the Italian American community, remaining the largest and most faithful representative of the over 25 million living in the US, and offers many educational and youth programs, such as scholarships, grants, heritage travel, and mentoring. NIAF’s mission also includes empowering ties between the US and Italy, working closely with the Italian Embassy, the Italian American Congressional Delegation, and the White House.

    Friday will commence with “NIAF University,” where participants can take part in a series of seminars to dig deeper into their Italian roots. Learn the basics of  “la bella lingua” with the Italian Cultural Society of Washington, D.C., and then join Domenica Marchetti, author of seven Italian cookbooks, for a showcase of her favorite traditional recipes. For dessert, enjoy a gelato demonstration and tasting by Gianluigi Dell'accio, owner of DC-based Dolci Gelati. From a book review hosted by Umberto Mucci, author of We The Italians, to a screening of The Neighborhood that Disappeared, a feature documentary by filmmaker Mary Paley, the day is filled with engaging activities free and open to the public.

    At 9:30 p.m. the official NIAF 41st Anniversary Celebration will kick-off with an evening of dancing and custom Italian cocktails to the sounds of Lena Prima and friends, along with a silent auction.

    Before the Gala on Saturday evening, “Expo Italiana” is the place to enjoy familiar tastes, sights, and sounds of Italian American life. Play bocce ball, visit the Kids Korner for face painting, and learn about Italian dual citizenship, genealogy, language, and travel programs. Treat yourself to food, coffee, and sweets provided by premier partners, say "cheese" in the photo booth, and dance to live music by singer-songwriter Ciro Di Lorenzo and world acoustic accordion champion Cory Pesaturo. There will also be a special performance of “La Tarantella” by Mickela Mallozzi, host and producer of Bare Feet with Mickela Mallozzi.

    The NIAF Gala continues to be a staple event for thousands of Italians across the US and Italy, welcoming 1,700 guests this year. Attendees will delight in Italian specialty fare and wine from Piemonte, this year’s NIAF Region of Honor, while enjoying live entertainment and the company of Italian American notables, who have all strengthened the Italian American identity through significant cultural and social impacts. In addition to the aforementioned honorees, NIAF will also honor Stefano Pessina, CEO of Walgreens Boots Alliance, Inc.; Linda Mastandrea, Paralympic Games gold medalist; Dr. Aileen Riotto Sirey; Maria Franca Ferrero; and Giuseppe Lavazza.

    Other expected guests include: Vice President Joe Biden and Dr. Jill Biden; Ambassador Armando Varricchio; Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito; Baseball Hall of Famer Mike Piazza; entertainer Joe Piscopo; actress Marisa Tomei; music executive Tommy Mottola; and actor Robert De Niro.

    Upon departure everyone will be gifted with a the ultimate swag bag brimming with products from over a dozen Italian partners, including Ferrero Rocher, Lavazza, Alitalia, DelGrosso Foods, Colavita, and more.

    Following the Gala, adjourn to the Lounge Bar for an after party, featuring live music and spirited sing-alongs with Ciro Di Lorenzo.

  • The Rome Film Festival
    Facts & Stories

    Rome Film Festival Boasts an Impressive Lineup and A-List Attendees

    The 11th edition of the Rome International Film Festival opens Thursday at the Auditorium Parco Della Musica with an impressive lineup suffused with world premieres and a star-studded guest list, including Bernardo Bertolucci, Tom Hanks, and Meryl Streep. The second year under artistic director Antonio Monda, the event will run one more day than usual until October 23 at the same budget of 3.4 million euro. Thanks to Monda, who has made a full use of his connections, the festival is doubling its bets on both films and talent.

    The Lineup

    The 11-day event will open with Barry Jenkins’ Moonlight, an acclaimed drama about an African-American in Miami who struggles to reveal he is gay. More exciting October and November releases to follow include: Ron Howard’s Inferno, a mystery thriller filmed in Venice and Florence; Nate Parker's The Birth of a Nation, a period drama based on the slave rebellion Nat Turner led in 1831; and Kenneth Lonergan's Manchester by the Sea, starring Casey Affleck and Michelle Williams.

    Of the 40 films deriving from 26 countries on the main festival lineup, 11 are from Italy. Four of which are in the official selection, including Maria per Roma by Karen Di Porto, Naples ’44 by Francesco Patierno, 7 Minuti by Michele Placido, and Sole, Cuore, Amore by Daniele Vicari.

    Australian crime thriller Goldstone, Chinese 3D martial arts blockbuster Sword Master, Iranian drama Immortal, and the Gavin O'Connor-directed thriller The Accountant, starring Ben Affleck and Anna Kendrick, are just a few more of the highlights.

    Several classics are also on the schedule, such as Advise and Consent (1962) by Otto Preminger, Milk by Gus Van Sant (2008), and Lincoln by Steven Spielberg.

    The festival will close with Kolkata-based Lion, featuring Nicole Kidman and Slumdog Millionaire star Dev Patel.

    The Stars

    The 15 Close Encounters series, up from last year’s 10, are planned with the likes of Roberto Benigni, Bernardo Bertolucci, David Mamet, and Viggo Mortensen, as well as American novelist Don DeLillo and contemporary art duo Gilbert & George. These guests will take center stage and share with the audience their personal experiences and insight into which films shaped who they are today. Fan-favorite Tom Hanks, who is receiving a lifetime achievement award and career retrospective, will participate in the first audience discussion. Equally as rousing, Meryl Streep will host a question-and-answer session for her fans to promote her latest film, Florence Foster Jenkins, directed by Stephen Frears.

    Another headliner booked for the occasion is Academy Award winner Oliver Stone. Scheduled to present Snowden, a biographical film about the American whistle-blower that he co-wrote and directed, he will also discuss films on American politics in a sidebar aimed to stimulate discussions in Rome with the US presidential election only weeks away.

    To add to the excitement, the innovative Italian singer-songwriter Jovanotti will make an appearance in a segment called “Images, Music, and Words.” No stranger to cinema with songs featured in a wide array of popular movies, he will explain the impact visual influences have on his music and express his admiration for the art of filmmaking.

    Monda has also recruited New York Times chief film critic, A.O. Scott, and Los Angeles Times critic, Justin Chang, who will participate in a panel on film criticism and its role in the changing global media landscape.

  • Facts & Stories

    Over 100,000 Italians Emigrated in 2015

    According to the “Italians in the World” report conducted by the the Italian Catholic Bishops Conference's Migrantes Foundation, more than 100,000 Italians emigrated in 2015—a 6% increase from 2014. Released on October 6, the report tracked the number of people on the Registry of Italians Resident Abroad (AIRE), and also revealed a shift in the age, marital status, and gender among the expats.

    Out of the total 107,529 Italians who left their homeland, 36.7% (39,410) were aged 18-34, 60.2% were unmarried, and 56.1% (over 60,000) were men. While millennials have the highest average level of education, in response to high unemployment levels and low salaries they are relocating in hopes of more opportunities overseas.

    Adults ranging from 35-49 accounted for 25.8% with minors placing in a close third at 20.7%, including 13,807 of which not yet 10. Only 6.2% were over 65, totaling close to 2,000 aged 75-84 and only 637 aged over 85. There was a rise in departures across all aged groups, except the latter, which dropped from 7,205 to 6,572.

    The regions people emigrated from the most were Lombardy (20,088) and Veneto (10,374) of Italy's prosperous north, followed by Sicily (9,823), Lazio (8,436), Piedmont (8,199), and Emilia Romagna (7,644). Typically, southern Italians account for the majority of those moving abroad, which makes this shift even more surprising. While Lombardy continues to report a high GDP per capita, a high rate of growth, and low unemployment, this report shows that even Italians from wealthier regions believe they will find a higher quality of life elsewhere.

    Of the expats, 69.2% moved throughout Europe. Records show that Germany (16,568) was the preferred destination, with Britain (16,503) not far behind. Switzerland (11,441) and France (10,728) were the next most popular countries. However, emigration to South America dropped 14.9%, while that to Central and North America were stable. Only 352 Italians moved somewhere outside of Europe and the Americas.

    The report also revealed that as of January 1, 2016, more than 4.6 million Italians currently reside abroad, up 3.7% from the previous year. Of these, 50.8% hail from the south and 48.1% are women, with more than 50% living in Europe and 40.6% in the Americas. Since the study began running in 2005, this outbound trend has swelled by almost 50% percent.

    "Mobility is a resource," the report noted. "But it becomes harmful if it is one-way, in other words when it is a hemorrhage of talent and skills from one place, with no corresponding return." 

    Italian President Sergio Mattarella echoed similar concerns saying in a statement that the study "forces us to look for solutions to benefit from migration, eliminating the risks". In fact, Prime Minister Matteo Renzi believes that these figures provide momentum for his reform policies.

    However, the report has sparked controversy regarding the root causes of the exodus. According to the New York Times, many opposing politicians blame the government for failing to create economic opportunities, others, including Northern League leader Matteo Salvini, have suggested that migrants from Libya are driving Italians away. Undersecretary of State for Foreign Affairs Benedetto Della Vedova, among others, disagree with that accusation and maintain that the reason is the long and ongoing economic crisis and its subsequent problems of unemployment.

  • Valentino Spring 2017, Credit: Alessandro Garofalo/Indigital.tv
    Art & Culture

    Pierpaolo Piccioli Makes a Striking Solo Debut at Valentino

    Paris, October 3 –Designer Pierpaolo Piccioli received a standing ovation following the runway show for his first solo collection as creative director for Valentino during Paris Fashion Week. For eight years he split the job with Maria Grazia Chiuri, who departed for Christian Dior last season and worked with Piccioli for close to two decades before partnering at Valentino.

    The show was held at its usual locale, the glorious Hotel Salomon de Rothschild, a neo-classical mansion characterized by its decadent frescoed ceilings and crystal chandeliers. Adding to the glam was a star-studded front row, which boasted an abundance of actresses, including Elle Fanning, Dakota Johnson, Shailene Woodley, Jessica Alba, Diane Kruger, and Valeria Bruni Tedeschi. Of course, Chiuri, also occupied one of the show’s sought-after seats, along with the 76-year-old beloved and eccentric British designer, Zandra Rhodes, known as the “princess of punk,” with whom Piccioli collaborated for this year’s collection.

    Inspired by the work of Hieronymus Bosch, a Dutch medieval artist, and his fantastical visions of heaven and hell, Piccioli and Rhodes created prints that incorporated the brand’s romance. Reinterpretations of the artworks, including scenes from “The Garden of Earthy Delights,” primarily decorated long, flowing dresses in ethereal, whisper-weight fabrics, but also translated to embroidery suffused with natural motifs on trench cape coats. Likewise, the color palette was too reminiscent of the Renaissance, ranging from yellow ochre, acid greens, and umber browns to scarlet reds and pops of pink, showcasing a plethora of floral silk prints in bubblegum and blush.

    Without a doubt, Piccioli stamped his own identity into the collection and opened a new chapter for the Italian label. While he played to the storied brand’s ornamental look, he downplayed historicism, which resulted in a more grounded ensemble.

    He took Valentino’s signatures frothy tulles and romantic laces and reworked them into more casual dresses, all slung with miniature cross body bags for a supplemental on-the-go feel. From red-carpet pleated skirts, long-sleeves, and high necks to tulle-skirted gowns with fanned sleeves, he ramped up wear-ability with more everyday offerings, such as gathered trousers, an asymmetric army jacket, and a red crochet dress. One standout piece was a pink fabric coat finished with floral appliqué and a raw edged hem, suitable for the fanciest occasion, as well as for your everyday affairs.

    The footwear also championed the synthesis of easy and luxurious, diverting attention away from heels to minimal plush velvet strappy sandals and suede ballet flats in springy hues. Punk jewelry, like dagger necklaces and jewelry, created an edgy flair.

    Despite the heavy focus on daywear, the show still looked like Valentino. However, Piccioli brought the brand down to earth and defined a new modern ease.

  • Art & Culture

    Opera Expert Fred Plotkin Returns to Casa Italiana

    Fred Plotkin is one of the world’s foremost opera experts best known not only for his depth of knowledge, but also for the joy with which he shares it. It is with open arms that he returns to Casa Italiana Zerilli-Marimò at New York University for another season of his hugely popular series, Adventures in Italian Opera

    Plotkin discovered the concept of the “Renaissance man” as a small child growing up one block from David Geffen Hall, and has since devoted his life to pursuing that ideal. His knowledge and expertise extend to opera, film, literature, classical music, food, and wine. In fact, The New York Times once described him as "a New Yorker with the soul of an Italian."

    Since 1972, Plotkin has worked in opera doing everything but singing, including management, production, design, coaching, and broadcasting. He has lectured, taught, consulted and held managerial and artistic roles at some of the top opera companies, including La Scala, the Metropolitan Opera, the Royal Opera House, and the Lyric Opera of Chicago.

    Extremely passionate about all that he does, Plotkin is also a distinguished writer. His book, Opera 101: A Complete Guide to Learning and Loving Opera, is the best-selling standard text in America on the art form. He has also written six renowned books on Italian cuisine, including Italy for the Gourmet Traveler. His articles appear regularly in The New York Times, Time, The Guardian, The Telegraph, Opera News, Bon Appétit, and other leading publications.

    Through Adventures in Italian Opera, Plotkin will host a sequence of captivating interviews and discussions with an impressive range of guests at Casa Italiana once a month from October – May. All events begin at 6:30pm and are free and open to the general public. The events will also be streamed live on the website.

    Last year, Plotkin welcomed Ambrogio Maestri, an Italian baritone best-known for his portrayal of the title character in Giuseppe Verdi's Falstaff. He also invited American tenor Matthew Polenzani, who has distinguished himself as a leading man in many important romantic roles, mostly in Italian, in the lyric and bel canto repertory.

    On October 13, he will open this year with opera singer, Marianna Pizzolato, who regularly performs Baroque and eighteenth-century repertoire and has a number of recordings to her credit. From faculty at the Juilliard School to valued conductors, visit Casa Italiana for a complete list of this year's guests.

  • Italian architect Renzo Piano
    Facts & Stories

    Renzo Piano to Improve Italy's Earthquake Resilience

    Following the 6.2 magnitude earthquake that devastated Central Italy on August 24, Prime Minister Matteo Renzi called on Renzo Piano—a Pritzker Prize-winning Italian architect appointed senator for life by the Italian president in 2013—to make the country’s cities more resilient from future seismic activity.

    The quake completely destroyed the town of Amatrice, leaving behind massive piles of rubble. It also caused severe damage to other medieval towns, including Accumoli and Pescare del Tronto, killing nearly 300 people and displacing thousands of residents.

    Unfortunately, towns scattered throughout the Apennine Mountains, which extends along the length of peninsular Italy, are familiar with such desolation. An extremely seismically active range, the last tremor of such great magnitude was less than a decade ago in 2009 in the town of L’Aquila, which killed over 300 and displaced about 65,000.

    Such seismic areas desperately need a major overhaul of its architecture and as a result of the latest catastrophe Renzi initiated “Casa Italia,” a long-term project for natural disaster risk prevention. He named Piano chief advisor to the program, who will help establish effective measures for anti-earthquake safety. As part of this initiative, on September 29, Piano presented to Senate ten prototype anti-seismic houses to be built along the Apennines.

    While standard rules for construction techniques already exist under the antiseismic law of 1974, they are poorly enforced. Though they were made more stringent after the 2009 quake in L’Aquila, the court of Rieti discovered that many of the buildings affected by the Central Italy quake were not constructed according to the law. Many blame the mafia, who often obtain building permits and fake anti-seismic measures.

    Fortunately, Piano is an experienced architect in seismic zones. In 1994, he designed the Kansai International Airport Terminal in Osaka, Japan, which suffered zero damage from the 6.9 magnitude earthquake that struck the region a year later.

    According to the Architectural Record, he has devoted his parliamentary salary to G124, the independent research group he established as part of his senatorial work. The group, named after his office in the Palazzo Giustiniani, will now shift their focus to earthquake resiliency.

    Piano stresses that in order for Casa Italia to be successful, the government has to first scientifically (rather than subjectively) identify Italy’s most vulnerable areas through a series of diagnostics. Then he will develop an assortment of structural prototypes in order to create a variety of buildings.

    For his long-term resiliency strategy, he will apply the unobtrusive construction techniques that he conducted in 1979 for the UNESCO-backed Otranto Urban Regeneration Workshop. Such techniques reinforced structures without forcing people to leave their homes and also reduced costs.

  • Vincent van Gogh Self-Portrait 1889
    Facts & Stories
    Art & Culture

    Stolen Van Gogh Paintings Recovered by Anti-Mafia Police

    During an investigation into a group linked to the Camorra, Naples’ notorious mafia family, police discovered two Vincent van Gogh (1853-1890) paintings that were taken in a heist from the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam in 2002. An art curator inspected the two canvases at the request of Italian authorities and concluded that they are real.

    The works, "Seascape at Scheveningen” and "Congregation Leaving the Reformed Church in Nuene," were found wrapped in cloth in the basement of an apartment belonging to Raffaele Imperiale, a rich and powerful drug dealer. While the paint has flaked away in the bottom left corner of the Scheveningen scene, and the latter suffered minor damage and lacks its frame, both appear to be in relatively good condition.

    A specialized team within the Italian Public Prosecutions Department was investigating the Amato Pagano clan, an international drug smuggling group affiliated with the Camorra, when they made this discovery in the village of Castellammare di Stabia near Naples. It remains unknown how the clan got a hold of the paintings, or whether its members had intentions of selling the works on the international black market. Apartments, villas, and a plane worth an estimated total of 20 million euros have also been seized as part of this crackdown targeting cocaine trafficking.

    Octave Durham, a Dutch art thief nicknamed "The Monkey," and an accomplice used a ladder to reach the attraction’s roof and smashed a reinforced glass window in order to break in during the early morning of December 7, 2002. The thieves were able to snag the paintings and escape down a rope before security could reach them. They were jailed two years later in 2004, despite maintaining their innocence.

    Axel Rüger, director of the Van Gogh Museum, expresses his enormous relief for this recent recovery.

    "The paintings have been found! That I would be able to ever pronounce these words is something I had no longer dared to hope for," he said in a statement.

    Both pieces date back to the 1880s, relatively early in the artist’s career, and are of huge historical value. The seascape, painted in 1882, is only one of two from his years spent in The Hague, and serves as an important example of his early style of painting. The small canvas of Nuenen church, where the artist's father was a Dutch Reformed Church pastor, is the only painting in the museum’s collection still in its “original stretcher frame.” Van Gogh painted it in 1884 for his mother and reworked it after his father's death in 1885, adding churchgoers and women wearing shawls used for mourning.

    "The strong biographical undertones make this a work of great emotional value," the museum said.

    Italy's specialist financial police are currently holding the artworks as evidence for a criminal trial. The museum, which houses the world's largest body of Van Gogh works, hopes for an eventual return to fill an important gap in its 800-work collection.

  • Credit: Net-a-Porter
    Life & People

    Are These Slippers Inspired by Trump's Hair?

    In the mood to spice up your shoe game? The latest in high-end footwear, Gucci’s new “Princeton Horesbit” slippers, are going for a mere $1,800. Made in Italy with natural goat hair, these shoes are guaranteed to keep your feet warm on the breeziest of days. Perfect for the fall, its leather sole and elongated toe will compliment almost every look you’re going for this season, even if that’s the current GOP Presidential nominee’s luscious locks.

    The shoes bear an uncanny similarity to Donald Trump’s head, and with the upcoming election they're a constant reminder to register to vote every time you glance down at your new kicks. Gucci allegedly dyed the fur in order to better match his hair’s golden hue, which they describe as “New Natural.”

    A versatile pair, they also resemble a Shih Tzu, a show guinea pig, and Chewbacca. Even better, they can double as a toupee, whether for Halloween or your day-to-day affairs. The most multifunctional shoe in history, you can relax at home in a luxurious fashion, while simultaneously mopping the dust off your floors.

    As this bold new trend offers a modern style to the classic loafer and they were crafted from the finest quality materials (no, really they were), the slippers are already sold out. If you feel so inclined to join this totally rational bandwagon, keep your eyes out for a restock and ooze wealth with every step.

  • Dolce & Gabbana finale at Milan Fashion Week via Catwalking
    Art & Culture

    Looking Back on Milan Fashion Week

    Milan Fashion Week commenced with a lunch hosted by Prime Minister Matteo Renzi, which instilled a further sense of purpose into the leading Italian designers, who were already eager to reveal their cherished designs. Manifesting that same energy, the six-day event closed with a spotlight on emerging designers, whose looks emanated youth and adventure.

    Overall, key collections debuted in Milan embodied heritage and zeitgeist. A blend of timelessness and trendy vibes, this season was filled with jaw-breaking innovation that drew on history and imagination. The highlights include an abundance of couture performance gear, heaps of floral, and glitter, of course.

    Day 1

    Gucci kicked things off with a fantasy-filled collection rich in colors, fabrics, and prints, featuring embroidery reminiscent of a fairytale and accessories just as whimsical as the clothes, from floppy hats to square and sequined eyewear. Creative director Alessandro Michele’s bohemian aesthetic shifted to favor a more punk look that veered through the eras, which included inspirations from the beloved 1970s, evident in the denim bell-bottoms and slim jackets.

    Needless to say, the reference point of Peter Dundas at Roberto Cavalli was also the ‘70s. But with a pioneering spirit in mind his mélange of influences, from Buffalo Soldier to Victoriana, takes you all around the globe. An exciting mix of the brand’s go-to flared pants, fringed kimonos, concha belts, beaded purses, and Native American tribal jewelry, your eyes can’t stop moving up and down the models perched on wooden clogs and dressed in bright and varied hues.

    Day 2

    Max Mara’s show was infused with the modernist approach of Italian architect and designer, Lina Bo Bardi. The house’s classic tailoring coexist with the collection’s sporty twist, featuring hooded jackets, corset-topped onesies, jumpsuits, visors, and slip-on clogs. Safari greenery and exotic animal prints dominated the color palette, as well as head-to-toe monochromatic looks in black, white, blue, orange, and yellow.

    Karl Lagerfeld of Fendi also designed with sportswear and street-wear in mind. However, he combined the cultural trends with playful pinks, delicate florals, bow motifs, porcelain prints, wispy materials, cupcake sleeves, and boudoir layers, resulting in a ready-to-wear collection with a dreamlike feel. Models donned metallic lips, striped crop-tops, neon knits, and vintage football pants, and completed the look with for-the-field inspired shoes with a curved, striped heel paired with athletic socks.

    Miuccia Prada debuted Prada’s collection in collaboration with Oscar-nominated director, David O. Russell, whose short film screened during the show. She fused 50’s shapes, 70’s colors, and ‘90s minimalism to create bold and print-heavy clothes in contrast to the models’ simple, uniform hairstyles and barely-there makeup. She incorporated pajama-inspired trousers, bomber jackets, box-pleated skirts, waist belts, and feathered edges, many of which in retro, clashing prints, matched with flats.

    Day 3

    Giorgio Armani dubbed his collection “Charmani” and subtly weaved multicultural references, from African beadwork to Indian sarong skirts, into the house’s calm and neutral style. Shots of red and lots of gray spiced up the signature blues, but fringe was the star of the show. From the straps of bags to the arms and hems of his timeless blazers and evening coats, he tweaked the classics for an extra pop of elegance and sensuality.

    Donatella Versace opened the show with a sporty flair, featuring runway stars, such as Naomi Campbell, dressed in green, purple, and blue windbreakers, color-blocked leggings, parachute-like dresses, and tailored power suits. Using the same lightweight nylon, she reinvented red carpet wear with easy-to-move-in cocktail dresses and high-slit skirts. From thinly pleated creations to dynamic patterns with the brand’s fret motif, the multi-faceted collection epitomes a sexy, modern, woman.

    Day 4

    To celebrate the brand’s 50th anniversary, Bottega Veneta shied away from grand gestures and paid homage to their craftsmanship, focusing simply on the clothes. The first time creative director Tomas Maier showed women’s and men’s wear together, he recreated 15 bags from the archives, flattering, glossy leather shirtdress and coats for the ladies, and 1950s-esque leather jackets for the guys, worn with colorful polo sweaters and pleated pants. Before his runway bow alongside his teary-eyed team, legendary model and actress, Lauren Hutton, stunned the crowd as she strutted alongside Gigi Hadid in hues that complimented their skin tone, hair, and age.

    Day 5

    The Dolce & Gabbana “Tropico Italiano” themed show, on the other hand, was an extravagant affair front-lined with millennial bloggers and celebrity kids alike. Break-dancers opened and closed the show, and models dazzled in sequins, studs, flowers, and pearls during all the moments in between. The collection itself was an ode to the South’s seaside cuisine, featuring items like a hessian-bag dress with a can of tomatoes painted on it. From signature wiggle dresses to light up LED heels and headpieces, closing with a finale of souvenir Dolce & Gabbana T-shirts, the collection was designed to share amongst Generation Z.

    Consuelo Castiglioni at Marni utilized her idiosyncratic outlook to create an artsy aesthetic, featuring neutrals and her trademark prints and jewelry, along with large poacher-pocket bags for an added sculptural note. Unconventionally chic proportions were apparent in her ivory and khaki sleek trenches with billowing pockets, sophisticated tops with oversized sleeves, and skirts with arched hemlines. Apart from the finale of all-black paneled dresses and tops, colored pieces included a raspberry pleated plissé dress and a spearmint green military-style suit, along with an array of florals and gentle geometrics.

    Currently in between designers, Salvatore Ferragamo dove into the 80s with a 21st century take on femininity and sportswear. Big shoulders and high-waisted pants in techno fabrics provided for a fun flash to the past with a modern twist. Floral dresses offered a dainty feel, balanced out with crisp, slim suits in solid colors, while the shoes, like chunky wedges with crocheted socks, played up the sporty vibe.

    Day 6

    Thirty-year-old Sicilian Salvatore Piccione of Piccione Piccione explored the fragile transition from adolescence to adulthood through marine motifs. Shell prints, pearled fringe, and fishnet stockings on chiffon and silk fabrics, matched with a mix of golden stilettos and flat slippers, personified the themes of change and evolution that are inherent in growing up.

    Three cities down and one to go: Ciao, Milano, Bonjour, Paris!