Rome Prizes

Ilaria Soncini of Ilariusss at AI

Altaroma, Rome’s biannual couture week, is becoming an unlikely launch pad for emerging Italian fashion designers thanks to Who Is On Next. This season, tucked in between the Valentino and Dolce & Gabbana Fall 2015 couture shows, many new designers showed their inventive creations to an impressive collection of judges, including Valentino’s Pierpaolo Piccioli and Saks Fifth Avenue’s Senior Fashion Director Colleen Sherin. Here, the standouts.


L72 Lee Wood bagged the Who Is On Next ready-to-wear prize, which includes exhibition space in Milan next season and editorial in Italian Vogue. The 42-year-old British designer spent 16 years alongside Donatella Versace before he had “a 40-year-old crisis,” which he says compelled him to launch his own brand. L72 combines sweeping 1950s silhouettes with uniform and sport style for a graphic hybrid between streetwear and elegance made in Italy.

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Lolita Lorenzo Kenyan-American Carol Oyekunle, who took home the Who Is On Next prize for accessories, began designing jewelry and bags as a reaction to the events of September 11. “I was working as a graphic designer at Glamour Magazine in New York and I decided after that it was time to pursue my passion,” says Oyekunle. The 40-year-old designer launched her collection, which is named after her two daughters, in 2013. Her Spring 2016 collection is comprised of minaudieres modeled on the house paintings of South Africa’s Ndebele people, a tradition dating back to the 18th century, which she produces in Italy combining traditional techniques and technology in a mosaic of plexiglass and metal.

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Nicolò Beretta Who Is On Next winner Nicolò Beretta, 18, is already a fashion veteran. He began his Giannico shoe brand at age 15 with the encouragement of Italian Vogue’s Franca Sozzani. Featuring laser cut leather and embroidery, Beretta is, he says, “inspired by “Pop art, Warhol, candy and fun with a malicious streak for women from 18 to 60.” For this season’s American Summer-inspired collection, Beretta used the Beverly Hills Hotel’s wide yellow and white stripe towels as a base and covered his cut-out sandals with glossy red lips and rubber bathing cap flowers embellished with Swarovski crystals.

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Carlo Volpi As part of 5+5, a new scouting project from Altaroma where five successful young designers selected five new names, Marco di Vincenzo chose the London-based Florentine knitwear talent Carlo Volpi, 37. Volpi’s tapestry-like mix of yarns and complex stitches that he produces by special order bring to mind a young and slightly wilder version of Missioni.

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Martine Rose Thomas Tait chose Martine Rose as his entrant to Altaroma’s 5+5. Rose, 35, has been designing men’s wear that has a unisex appeal, since 2008, and counts Opening Ceremony and VFiles in New York amongst her retailers. She describes her aesthetic as “sportswear that feels awkward, but looks beautiful.” Translation: newly minted vintage, including shaggy fur coats covered by patches reproduced from posters for raves from Rose’s teenage days, tunics made from patched and over-dyed towels and shoes inspired by ‘40s ski boots.

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Les Petite Joueurs Nicholas Kirkwood selected Petit Joueurs, the colorful, digital-inspired bag collection by Florence’s Maria Sole Cecchi. The designer, 28, got her star making bags for herself. Now, she uses laser cutting techniques, Lego-style appliques, and pleated and printed leather to make her flirty collection, which will be carried by Bergdorf Goodman and Neiman Marcus this fall.

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Matteo Lamandini Massimo Giorgetti, of MGSM and Pucci, selected Matteo Lamandini, 25, for 5+5. Although Lamandini is only in his first season, he has already won Berlin’s Designer For Tomorrow prize for his loose-cut men’s wear-inspired, unisex styles that come in classic tweeds, irregular pinstripes and textural fabrics.

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Michele Chiocciolini The Florence-based designer’s whimsical cut-out pochettes, which combine leather textures and colors for men and women inspired by Chiocciolini’s love of dogs, palm trees the 80s, stars and Keith Haring, were featured at A.I., Artisanal Intelligence, an Altaroma exhibition curated by Clara Tosi Pamphili and Alessio de’Navasques.

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Naugy Silvia Bergomi’s collection is dedicated to genderless pieces. Using shirts with a print inspired by the drawings of the late 19th-century naturalist Ernst Haeckel, she plans to create an entire wardrobe, which can be worn by men or women.

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Ilaria Soncini The designer’s feather cloche hats have graced Valentino’s Christmas windows, and she also works for Versace and Milan’s La Scala opera, but her own Ilariusss hat collection, which is produced in small ateliers which specialize in Italian handcraft, is the most spectacular.

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Giancarlo Petriglia Coin Excelsior, Rome’s luxury department store, hosted 6 up-and-coming Italian bag designers this year. Petriglia’s namesake brand, which specializes in Memphis style patchworks featuring printed leathers, diverse textures and a explosion of color, was the standout.

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Tiziano Guardini At “Tales about Food and Fashion,” an exhibition inspired by sustenance and eco sustainability curated by Stefano Dominella and Bonizza Giordani Aragno, the highlight was Rome’s Tiziano Guardini ,who wove licorice roots into a curve hugging “Natural Couture” dress. Guardini, who works exclusively with alternative natural materials like raffia, pinecones, bark and soy fiber, is currently working on a limited-edition collection of clothing and accessories.

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