Why Is Altaroma At The Heart of Cultural & Creative Activity?

Why Is Altaroma At The Heart of Cultural & Creative Activity?

Photography : Style Icon Nat

There are many romantic cities in the world, but only one, whose name happens to begin with the letter R, truly embodies the spirit of romance through its rich culture of art history, music, and architecture. That city is Rome, of course. My first trip to Rome was several years ago. It proved to be an unforgettable experience, so you can imagine how I felt (over the moon, to be exact) when I was selected to join a group of international delegates and attend Altaroma from 25 to 28 January 2018. The latter was a sponsored trip organised by the Italian Trade Agency (ICE). Along with the Italian Ministry for Economic Development, ICE supported the July edition of Altaroma to help promote emerging design talent in Italy. The schedule consisted of four days of haute couture shows, cultural events, and presentations.

Upon arriving at the Rome Times Hotel, which was my home when in Rome,

Altaroma SS18 - Rome Times Hotel Altaroma FW18/19 – Rome Times Hotel

I received a press kit that contained a programme, press badge, USB, a few show invites, Aveda skincare products, and a box of unisex perfumed wipes by 401 E Amatrice (a concept initiated after the earthquake). I felt almost prepared but not entirely as Altaroma was unfamiliar territory. Fortunately, all delegates conveniently had free access to a car service from their hotels to shows and events. For the first time, Altaroma and the ICE Agency presented “Showcase,” a new project dedicated to emerging Italian brands that have been established for less than ten years. This initiative is aimed at introducing forty new collections to potential buyers and press within the industry. Thus ten designers showcased their collections each day in the MAXXI Museum (in the Guido Reni district that played host to Altaroma Fall/Winter 2018-2019). I had the opportunity to see the emerging brands that are part and parcel of The Lifestyle Collective’s focus on new, creative talent.

The event calendar consisted of three sections: fashion hub, dedicated to the promotion of emerging talents worldwide, hence “Showcase” and Greta Boldini’s Fall/Winter 2018-2019 show at the department store, Coin Excelsior; Atelier, which included design presentations of small ateliers and skilled artisans in addition to couture shows such as Filippo Laterza’s “Opera Orientale”; and “In Town,” in association with fashion businesses. The latter included boutique openings to encourage economic development of the city and to also provide a platform for “Roman’s Romance—The Exhibition” at the new Rinascente store. Overall, the organisational structure of the event calendar promoted diversity including a new collaboration with the Department for International Trade (DIT) of the British Consulate to present “Fashion is Great,” a project of whom British Designer, Sadie Clayton was the ambassador. Her Fall/Winter 2018-2019 collection, “Reimagined Perception,”  is sculptural in style showcasing an autumnal palette of rusty copper, nude and grey along with rich fabrics in satin, suede and corduroy.  The schedule also provided scope to explore the city as opposed to being restricted to one area.

I met several talented designers at “Showcase.” In addition to being a beautiful city, Rome has undiscovered gems in the guise of unique designers. Platforms like Altaroma and ICE, that scout for new Italian fashion Made in Italy, play a part in helping such designers rise to international acclaim. I discovered twelve innovative collections at “Showcase” to which I took an instant liking.

Luisa Tratzi

The creative vision of Luisa Tratzi focuses on contrasting colours and textures. As part of her eighth collection, which made its debut at “Showcase”, two themes dominate – a modern femininity through the use of soft hues such as blue and violet juxtaposed with strong geometrical lines. Luisa Tratzi is inspired by both design and architecture hence the attention to detail. Furthermore, the designer adheres to production taking place in Vigevano and Parabiago; two cities of Lombardy renowned for excellence. Each shoe features a black sole – made of leather – that adorns the brand’s metallic logo in brass and coated with palladium. Luisa Tratzi shoes are show-stopping and belong on the red carpet.

Altaroma FW18/19 - Luisa Tratzi Altaroma FW18/19 – Luisa Tratzi

Altaroma FW18/19 - Luisa Tratzi Altaroma FW18/19 – Luisa Tratzi

Benedetta Bruzziches

This bag collection is set to be a fundamental design for the future. Benedetta Bruzziches cleverly plays with materials to produce authentic pieces. References to spirituality and the elements run through the SS18 collection which pays homage to the designer’s ability to adapt her imaginative flair to design techniques. Benedetta works alongside her brother, Agostino, in Italy where production takes place. Famed for her signature quilted Carmen bags and plated Bijoux boxes, the designer injects fantasy elements into her creative designs. Rihanna teamed the Carmen clutch with a colourful ensemble at Roc Nation’s Pre Grammy Brunch. Who wouldn’t want to be seen with such luxurious arm-candy? This designer is one to watch.

Altaroma FW18/19 - Benedetta Bruzziches Altaroma FW18/19 – Benedetta Bruzziches

Altaroma FW18/19 - Benedetta Bruzziches Altaroma FW18/19 – Benedetta Bruzziches

Anna Porcu

I have always appreciated cameo accessories for their enduring quality and, perhaps, this is why Anna Porcu’s Fall/Winter 2018-2019 collection strikes me as beautiful, wearable art. The designer sources original cameos from the 1800s or 1920s that are reworked and mounted on leather to create modern fashion combined with elements of mythological history. Anna Porcu’s namesake brand launched in 2011, which showcased a collection of jewels using ancient cameos. Each piece reflects the individual personality of the wearer. On that note, the cameo bracelet of a significant warrior (whose name I can not recall) and Zeus (the god of the sky in Greek mythology) attracted my attention. Both are known for acts of courage, to which I can relate.


Altaroma FW18/19 - Anna Porcu Altaroma FW18/19 – Anna Porcu

Altaroma FW18/19 - Anna Porcu Altaroma FW18/19 – Anna Porcu


Made in Italy, the FW18-19 collection of Trenta7 is a mix of masculine and feminine fashion. The signature style of each piece is the buckle or the briefcase clasp, which is available in nickel and brushed brass. All materials are carefully sourced in Italy, which compliment the androgynous style. According to the designer, Eleonora Moccia, “Our shoes are unconventionally minimalistic, distinguished by unique details with a flare of dazzling craftsmanship.”

Altaroma SS18 - Trenta7 Altaroma SS18 – Trenta7

Altaroma FW18/19 -Trenta7 Altaroma FW18/19 -Trenta7


Metamorphosis is the creative concept of the collection, which is evident through the designer’s use of adjustable clothing. Alessandra Cappiello, the brainchild behind ‘Morfosis’ (aka Morphosis), adopts contemporary styles to produce garments that are multi-functional. Further to this, Alessandra pays particular attention to the form and shape of clothing to suit the demands of a woman’s ever-changing wardrobe. “The Morfosis is a woman who is using her wardrobe as a form of personal expression and marks her place in the world through shapes and materials.” Says Alessandra Cappiello.

Altaroma FW18/19 - Morphosis Altaroma FW18/19 – Morphosis

Altaroma FW18/19 - Morphosis Altaroma FW18/19 – Morphosis

The Dots

One of my favourite collections of “Showcase,” the concept behind “The Dots” was either a stroke of genius or well thought out. The design aesthetic and idea work simultaneously. I spoke to one of the founders of “The Dots,” Ral Teofilova, who has lived in Milan for ten years. “The Dots” stemmed from the notion of an ellipsis in or at the end of a sentence. Each bag features three signature dots to showcase different artwork from the collection in the form of a slogan, symbol, or laser-cut accessory. Such accessories are symbolic of a particular written thought or idea that would replace the three dots within an incomplete sentence. From a metaphorical perspective, the dots concept could mean that our thoughts and feelings complete our personality like the detachable artwork completes every bag from the collection. “The Dots bags is the development of a creative idea with no timeframe…which can further assume personal meaning through the individual interpretation of the wearer…” says Ral Teofilova.

Altaroma FW18/19 - The Dots Altaroma FW18/19 – The Dots

Altaroma FW18/19 - The Dots Altaroma FW18/19 -The Dots


This namesake brand is fashion forward and innovative in style. Annie M, the designer behind the name, is from a background in architecture, which inspired her debut collection at “Showcase”. Annie customises all the materials (i.e., heels, buckles, and leather) she uses to produce unique shoes Made in Italy. Annie’s cutout block heel is one of the signature looks of the collection. “I use black to create feminine appeal and elegance as well as pay attention to trends.” Says Annie

Altaroma FW18/19 - Annie Altaroma FW18/19 – Annie

Altaroma FW18/19 - Annie Altaroma FW18/19 – Annie

Gaetano Pollice

Designer Gaetano Pollice grew up in the region of Molise, set between the Sannita Apennines and the beaches of the Adriatic sea. I can understand why the sea, in particular, inspired Gaetano’s AW18-19 collection. His iconic bag was inspired by starfish. Unusual creatures of the sea with a serene quality. Gaetano’s collection is creative and portrays the vibrant town of Guglionesi in which he grew up. “My bags are for women who lived in distant times. Such times preserve all the mysteries of a tradition “made by hand” and do not get embarrassed to walk through the streets of a present that is already future.” Says Gaetano.

Altaroma FW18/19 – Gaetano Pollice

Altaroma FW18/19 - Gaetano Pollice Altaroma FW18/19 – Gaetano Pollice

Greta Boldini

After seeing Greta Boldini’s Fall/Winter 2018-2019 show at the contemporary department store Coin Excelsior, it was a pleasure to meet Alexander Flagella at “Showcase,” the designer behind the brand. In 2011, he started a joint venture with Michela Musco, which led to the creation of Greta Boldini. The brand was in the final of “Who Is On Next? 2013.” The film, Her, a 2013 American romantic science-fiction drama, inspired the Fall/Winter  2018-2019 collection of Greta Boldini. Thus, the collection draws upon references to romanticism combined with futuristic fashion. Greta Boldini pays attention to structured garments, contemporary elegance, sensuality, and a colour palette of neutral tones.

Altaroma FW18/19 - Greta Boldini Altaroma FW18/19 – Greta Boldini

Altaroma FW18/19 - Greta Boldini Altaroma FW18/19 – Greta Boldini

Silvio Betterelli

The FW18/19 collection of Silvio Betterelli merely is exquisite. Silvio incorporates the sartorial elegance of Italian tradition into contemporary garments. It’s no wonder, Silvio’s background is in art, product, and textile design. His use of embroidery and intricate detail reflect a unique sense of craftsmanship that appreciates a woman’s sensuality. Silvio’s work demonstrates a profound understanding of feminine beauty through contrasting textures, colours, and attention to detail. As I looked through Silvio’s collection at “Showcase,” I felt empowered to dress more elegantly to celebrate my beauty and confidence as a woman.

Altaroma FW18/19 - Silvio Betterelli Altaroma FW18/19 – Silvio Betterelli

Altaroma FW18/19 - Silvio Betterelli Altaroma FW18/19 – Silvio Betterelli

Avaro Figlio

Avaro Figlio is a stunning collection with an eclectic twist. All garments are Made in Italy combining Italian modernism with intricate craftsmanship. The label is perfect for women who appreciate couture, ready-to-wear, and edgy pieces for special occasions. Avro Figlio uses fabrics made exclusively for the brand to produce one-of-a-kind garments. The FW18/19 collection oozes Hollywood glamour in addition to a harmonious balance between shape, texture, classic prints, and colour such as metallic silver, red, and nude. “Architecture transcends the looks into harmonic and lively garments with splendid details in the prints and designs.” Says Avaro Figlio.

Altaroma FW18/19 - Avaro Figlio Altaroma FW18/19 – Avaro Figlio

Altaroma FW18/19 - Avaro Figlio Altaroma FW18/19 – Avaro Figlio


The Demanumea FW18/19 collection is like art—unique, enigmatic, and genius. Every piece is hand-made by artists, painters, and sculptors in the heart of Central Italy. I’ve come across brands who collaborate with artists, but the Demanumea concept is an unusual form of artistic expression. Like a blank canvas, the brand uses leather on which the artists express their creativity. Each Demanumea product has a palladium nameplate inside that shows the article number, the name of the work, and the signature of the artist who created it. Selected materials are used such as authentic Italian leather, resistant yarns, and accessories made of brass and galvanised palladium. Each piece is designed exclusively for Demanumea. “We want to offer you exclusivity through a unique product, rich in art, never the same and never more repeatable. Together we want to challenge the mass production market. We want to tell you our story” Says Silvia Scaramucci – Creative Director and Designer of Demanumea.

Altaroma FW18/19 - Demanumea Altaroma FW18/19 – Demanumea

Altaroma FW18/19 -Demanumea Altaroma FW18/19 -Demanumea

Other highlights of my trip included The “Cumulo” exhibition which showcased the collection of NicoGiani (winner of “Who Is On Next? 2017”), Amanti, Andrea Mondin, Marco Proietti Designer and Roberto Di Stefano.

Altaroma FW18/19 -"Cumulo" Altaroma FW18/19 -“Cumulo”

Altaroma FW18/19 - "Cumulo" Altaroma FW18/19 – “Cumulo”

Altaroma FW18/19 - "Cumulo" Altaroma FW18/19 – “Cumulo”

Altaroma FW18/19 "Cumulo" Altaroma FW18/19 “Cumulo”

Act N1, winners of “Who Is On Next? 2017” presented their collection in the National Gallery of Modern and Contemporary Art. Marianna Cimini (finalist of “Who Is On Next? 2014”), Miahatami (winner of “Who Is On Next? 2016), Moi Multiple (finalist of “Who Is On Next? 2009), and Soocha (finalist of “Who Is On Next? 2012”) also presented their collection. A.I. Artisanal Intelligence a project which originated from the earlier stages of Altaroma, presented “A.I. – 50YEARSLATER” at the National Gallery before Act N1. Some schools were involved in this initiative to highlight generational fashion. Lastly, Altaroma collaborated with “Portugal Fashion” to reinforce the role of Rome as a key destination for cultural activity and creativity worldwide. Please visit my YouTube channel to see the above shows including renowned designer Renato Balestra.

Altaroma FW18/19 - Renato Balestra Altaroma FW18/19 – Renato Balestra

Altaroma FW18/19 - Renato Balestra Altaroma FW18/19 – Renato Balestra

Overall, it was an honour to meet the designers at “Showcase” whose exceptional talent has propelled them towards the global fashion arena, thus helping to pave the way for other emerging designers in Rome.

Altaroma FW18/19 -Style Icon Nat Altaroma FW18/19 -Style Icon Nat

Written by @StyleIconNat | Thank you Altaroma and ICE | Photography & Videography by Style Icon Nat | Experience of Altaroma  – Rating 4/5




Style Icon Nat

Award-winner of the 2020 UK Enterprise Awards for most innovative celebrity stylist & lifestyle writer, Natalie is London based. Additionally, she is known for her work as a content creator and launched her blog in 2017 - Style Icon Nat's The Lifestyle Collective. The latter consolidated her creative skills and supports lifestyle, fashion and beauty brands. Natalie's fashion journey began in Harrods and Browns - South Molton Street, where she worked as a fashion consultant. In 2004, Natalie continued her fashion career as a personal shopper in Selfridges and set up Style Icon Ltd (a personal shopping company) in 2005. This led to worldwide travel for private clients, red carpet styling, student mentoring, public speaking at LFW, Clothes Show Live and British Airways corporate events. The end goal is to inspire, motivate and educate people globally. Natalie has a BA (Honours) degree in social policy & politics, PGCE and creative writing certification from Central St Martins.


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