Much like timeless fashion, Rome too, is the epitome of eternal beauty. A city that preserves, through the ages, the world’s history, culture and art, it is also the greenest city in Europe. It is for this reason that there is no city like it on the planet. From its ageing archaeological wonders, to its breathtaking vistas, impressive landscapes, its expansive urban parks, historic villas and secret gardens, one can never truly fully conquer Rome. It is for this reason that our fashion maven, Helen Nonini — always in pursuit of intrigue to satiate her curiosity — has decided to discover all the fashion wonders Rome has to offer.
Her first stop is Piazza di Spagna, a splendid eighteenth-century staircase that sits on the edge of the regal Villa Borghese park and overlooks Pietro Bernini’s Baroque Fontana della Barcaccia, as well as modern boutiques, antique cafes and museums. Tucked under the Spanish Steps is the historic Babington’s English tearoom, famous for serving, since 1893, the same scones preferred by Queen Victoria. As if it were crystallised in time, Helen marvels at the cafes timeless charm as she enters and sits down to chat over British delights and tea, with tastemaker, Margherita Puri Negri, who recently moved to Rome to with her husband and their child.
Babington’s birth date of 1893 is “contemporary” relative to Rome’s ancient history, she added, noting that Babington’s iconic cat and the gifts that have been created around it, are one of the biggest draws to the Roman tearoom. “The small tasty dishes are always the confirmation that this is the place where you live the tea of wonders. It’s no wonder that “Alice in Wonderland” is one of my favorite books …”
Helen’s statement piece for this “Roman Holiday” is a double-breasted trench by G.A.N. in brown. Crafted with exaggerated features like a flared line with rever collar and buckle-adorned hems, it’s the perfect quirky item to kick off her journey through Rome’s cobblestone streets. Underneath is a silk dress made by a Roman brand San Felice Cashmere. Known for its unmistakeable refined, tailored style, this San Felice ensemble has been made exclusively for the Dressing Screen.
During their meeting the two friends chat about their latest projects and Helen explains her ongoing commitment to support new designers, Italian craftsmanship and her charity project in support of the Istituto Mario Negri. Margherita discusses her new life in Rome — from the wonderful experience of having recently become the mother of little Giulia to her latest renewal project. Margherita recently joined her family in running the marketing and communications of an estate, resort and rural oasis called Terre di Sacra, a strip of lakeside land situated in Capalbio, a popular Tuscan vacation spot in the Maremma region, known for its idyllic stone cottages, wildlife, as well as summer concerts, art fairs and exhibitions. Margherita, who spent much of her younger years living abroad in the UK, Switzerland and the US, has also joined her sister Olivia run Hello Serena, a company that makes organic tampons wrapped in eco chic packaging. For now, Rome is home. “On the aesthetic side it’s mind-blowing. I love Piazza di Spagna. My best Rome moment was when the city was dead silent after a night of snow,” Margherita mused.
Margherita opted for a total, tribal print Carlotta Canepa button-down dress. Carlotta is a descendent of the Como-based family that owns the ponymouse silk mill and her designs reflect the family’s ties to its upscale, vanguard luxury clientele, infused with a modern, jovial edge.
After a short breakfast together, the duo take a walk to the home of Gaia Franchetti, aunt of Iacobella Gaetani, the founder of the eponymous fashion-forward brand that sells handmade bags made in Tuscany.
When it comes to footwear Margherita opted for a heritage brand — a pair of Vibi Venezia “furlane” slippers that are an homage to ancient Venetian royalty, the city’s character. The brand was launched a few years ago by the Arrivabene sisters, who are also dear friends of Margherita. Helen wears a pair of classic Laudadio loafers, a historic brand of handmade shoes based in Rome. Founded in 1961, its founder Ennio Laudadio opened a small shop in Via Gregoriana in the heart of Rome, where he handcrafted shoes for leading figures in the world of politics, culture and show business. After passing down his craft to his son, the brand is well-known for its bespoke shoes.
Adorned in ornate, gold artisanal rings made by Roman goldsmith and jewellery maker Ansuini, Helen finds herself in Franchetti’s garden, an urban oasis studded with palm trees, awash in rose gardens and punctuated with sculpted fountains.
Inside this peaceful haven, Helen meets the designer, who like Helen, was born into a life of perpetual travel and artistic and cultural experience. Gaetani’s eclectic taste is defined by her world travels to India and South America, which defined the beginnings of her eclectic taste.
In the garden, Helen stumbles upon a dressing screen, the symbol that represents the heart of this project — a tribute to this nation’s finest artisanal traditions.
“Iacobella is a kaleidoscope with her numerous cultural influences, her many adventures, her conflicting (yet coherent) chapters of her life render an encounter with her a moment that is suspended in time,” Helen said. “Iacobella makes you feel at home and her bags, a symbol that reminds us of home, really reflects her ability to make one feel at ease.”
Shop Vernisse dresses
Up above, on a romantic Roman terrace, Helen meets with Eugenia and Francesca, the two young founders of the brand Vernisse, as the they prepare for an exclusive preview of their latest collection, in a private setting for exclusive to their top Roman customers. Founded in Milan, Vernisse is a brand found on sustainable principles and produces clothes made with up-cycled and vintage materials for a stylish, modern consumer.
Draped in a lavish, violet, animal print Vernisse gown, Helen decides to call it a day, as she sits back and relaxes with a sense of awe-filled wonder in a beautiful Roman penthouse.
“Rome is a theatre where everything is theatrical. It’s a museum without walls. Rome has the elegance and power of history seduced by humanity.”