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Fernanda Gattinoni Exhibition Paris

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While hers may not be an internationally recognized name, Fernanda Gattinoni was an Italian couturier who dressed several reigning icons of cinema during the 1950s and 60s—Audrey Hepburn, Kim Novak, Ingrid Bergman, Bette Davis, and Anna Magnani, among others—in her elegant and feminine designs.  These dresses are the subject of a current exhibition at the Italian Cultural Institute of Paris, which the Vault – via Stylesight’s Paris correspondent Kelly Miller – had the pleasure of visiting this week.  While Gattinoni kept to classic, demure silhouettes- she was a vocal dissenter on nudity in fashion- the true inspiration is found in the details, most notably in her innovative fluting techniques and materials.  The Vault favorite was a cream-colored crepe georgette gown boasting a bodice constructed with strips of fabric woven in a latticework motif [see below].

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The four petites robes noire the designer created for fiesty Italian actress Anna Magnani were a strikingly modern contrast to the flowy red carpet looks that comprised the latter part of the show, and a far cry from Gattinoni’s reprisal of the empire style for Audrey Hepburn’s dresses worn in the film War and Peace [1956], which are displayed in their own room off to the side.

Gattinoni, who trained in London and later turned down a position in Chanel’s atelier before returning to Italy to start her own line, came to be known for her empire style gowns and is said to have employed 25 full-time seamstresses at the height of her atelier’s fame in 1960.

While she worked with the great actresses of her day, Gattinoni once said of Hepburn, “She was too perfect and perfect people are not my cup of tea,” though further adding, “[Hepburn] had an exceptional physique.  Tall and thin, all the dresses that she wore became essential and luminous like a brilliant jewel.”

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