The face of AltaRoma
Rome has naturally established itself as a launch pad for emerging talents
Simonetta Gianfelici is the face of AltaRoma. Overseeing both the Showcase exhibition, which is dedicated to highlighting the work of young designers, and the Who Is On Next? program with the help of Vogue Italia, she selects the talents invited to Italy’s third most important fashion event. It was in Rome that Italian haute couture was emancipated; and even though the great historical houses no longer show here today, Rome remains connected the desire for couture. For over ten years, the city has been repositioning itself on the Italian fashion scene, and Simonetta Gianfelici is one of the main instigators in this. During the latest edition of AltaRoma, she spoke with Say Who about the talents that have contributed to the event’s success and discussed the new space in the PratiBus District for its Showcase sector.
Can you introduce us to AltaRoma’s Showcase project and tell us about its “Made in Italy” approach?
The Showcase project became part of AltaRoma three years ago thanks to the ICE agency, which promotes Italian companies abroad. Its aim is to present emerging brands and independent designers, whose common denominator is “Made in Italy,” to the public. This also includes foreign designers who have chosen to integrate Italian production because of its standards of excellence. What we are looking to accomplish, both with Showcase and Who Is On Next? (now in its 13th edition), is to create a talent pool. Young talents are the driving force of the industry and have an important role to play in the development of Italian production; they give it a more creative and contemporary impetus. Everyone fulfills the requirements in terms of production quality and research.
Who are the designers presented at the Showcase this year?
At each new edition, we present about 60 designers, around 15 a day. Among the new names that marked this edition of AltaRoma, I would mention Caterina Moro and Federico Cina for ready-to-wear; Maissa, Maria Lamanna, and Ninael for bags. For accessories, //Delirious, 011Eyewear, and the jewelry brands Sylvio Giardina. We have also started to introduce streetwear brands that have a younger image and consider clothing as a means of expression, as well as some brands that stand out for their commitment to sustainable development and eco-responsible production.
What is Altaroma’s place in the Italian fashion industry as a whole, particularly in relation to Milan Fashion Week and Pitti Uomo?
Over the past ten years, Rome has almost naturally established itself as a launch pad for emerging talents. Our initiatives have enabled talented designers—such as Arthur Arbesser, who is now Fay’s creative director, or Paul Andrew with Ferragamo—to be discovered. I very much believe in positive contamination between foreign designers who oversee the creative direction of Italian historical houses and young Italian designers who have studied abroad and choose Italian manufacturing production. It is a richness for the “Made in Italy” signature. AltaRoma now clearly has a mission with regard to emerging young designers, while Pitti is a centre of excellence in men’s fashion. We all work in synergy with the Camera Nazionale della moda Italiana to ensure that our designers find the platforms they need for growth in terms of distribution and production, as well as access to foreign markets.
The international fashion scene is now so vast, not only with the major capitals but also new players such as Berlin, Madrid, Shanghai and Tokyo. What is special about Rome?
In my opinion, AltaRoma’s success is to have established itself as a pool of young talent over the past ten years. AltaRoma is naturally and beneficially influenced by Roman culture in design, cinema, and fashion. The relationships between all these domains are extraordinarily fluid.
Can you tell us about this new exhibition space in the heart of the city, the PratiBus District?
We are often asked when AltaRoma will finally find its institutional headquarters to organize its exhibitions and fashion shows. However, I think that moving AltaRoma around is a richness that is very stimulating. This dynamic allows visitors to discover the many facets of the city and its districts, and also allows us to renew our image for each edition. Like fashion, AltaRoma needs this permanent renewal. Previous editions of AltaRoma were held at the famous Cinecittà cinema studios, in Guido Reni, at the Colosseo and at the Archaeological Park; all have been very successful. This new location, the PratiBus District, was very popular with Italian and foreign visitors, but also with the locals of the Prati district, who were delighted to see this space brought back to life.
Portrait and photos: Ludovica Arcero & Francesco Salemme
Video : Francesco Salemme