At the end of October in Florence there has been the auction of the haute couture dresses belonging to the writer Anna Rontani. A unique and rare opportunity to admire a private treasure before being scattered all over the globe.
|Anna Rontani at a party in the 50s|
Anna Rontani was a woman of another era, she was born in Massarosa in 1924 and spent her life in a villa in Versilia turning it into an important “literary salon” where cultivate her passion for the piano, philosophy and writing. She married Giovanni Falchini, a Florentine nobleman and aircraft pilot, with whom she traveled the world collecting art pieces and furniture. Widowed very young, she continued to travel on cruise for at least 6 months a year, increasing her huge collection of fancy dresses (for special parties) and haute couture dresses. Every dress, accessory or object shows the changing of the Italian and international fashion, and at the same time reveals her love for life and her eclectic style.
|Anna Rontani wearing a Loris Azzaro haute couture emerald dress in the 80s |
The auction was preceded by the exhibition of the lots in two locations: the auction house Maison Bibelot of Florence (that oversaw the sale) and the dance halls of the nearby Villa Favard, venue of the Polimoda fashion school. The exhibition retraced the golden years of the Italian haute couture from its birth in the 50s in the Sala Bianca of Palazzo Pitti. A long way among the gilded stucco and mirrors of Villa Favard, showed the changes of the style of Anna Rontani. From the ladylike dresses of the 50’s, often matched with shoes and accessories; passing by the elegant period of the 60s, with white Valentino dresses or the cages by Pierre Cardin, and then the excesses of the 70s and of the 80s with sequins, ruffles and frills.
|COMPOSÉ DA SERA IN RASO CELESTE E AVORIO Anni Cinquanta|
|COMPOSÈ DA POMERIGGIO IN SETA BIANCA Jole Veneziani, Milano, Anni Sessanta (dettaglio)|
|ABITO DA COCKTAIL IN CREPE DI SETA BIANCO Valentino Couture, 1969 circa|
|ABITO DA COCKTAIL IN CREPE DI SETA BIANCO Valentino Couture, 1969 circa (dettaglio)|
|COMPOSÈ DA SERA IN RASO E SETA COLOR AVORIO Valentino Couture, Anni Settanta |
|COMPOSÈ DA SERA IN RASO E SETA COLOR AVORIO Valentino Couture, Anni Settanta (retro)|
|COMPOSÈ DA SERA IN RASO E SETA COLOR AVORIO Valentino Couture, Anni Settanta (dettaglio)|
|ABITO “GABBIA” IN CREPE DI SETA COLOR BIANCO Pierre Cardin, Paris, Anni 60/70|
|ABITO DA COCKTAIL IN PIZZO DI LANA BIANCO E ORO Elda Pavan Milano, Anni 60|
Villa Favard had a sort of institutional fashion-museum setting with dresses elegantly displayed on mannequins, while the atmosphere changed radically at the Maison Bibelot auction house venue. The four exhibition rooms were not enough to hold all the lots that could be even tried. A lot of fashion people (the real ones, like students, designers and collectors) rummaged through cabinets, hangers and hatboxes. There were also busy chatting old ladies who in front of the windows full of original René Caovilla shoes, Roberta di Camerino bags and Chanel belts, commented with a trace of envy: -This woman has enjoyed the very best years!
|ABITO LUNGO DA SERA IN RASO DI SETA COLOR AVORIO Elda Pavan, Milano, Anni 80|
|ABITO DA SPOSA IN SETA BIANCA Laura La sposa chic, Anni 80|
|ABITO DA SERA IN SETA MOIRÉ ROSSO MATTONE Elda Pavan, Milano, Anni 80|
|ABITO IN RASO DI SETA COLOR AVORIO Anni 50 rimodellato negli anni 80|
|ABITO CORTO DA SERA Italia Bernardini, Anni 60|
|ABITO LUNGO DA SERA IN CADY DI SETA NERA Anni 80|
The real surprise for a fashion lover (as I am) was to see and touch all those museum-pieces, appreciating every little craftsmanship detail. Among the several Valentino Couture and Christian Dior dresses, Roberta di Camerino bags and Gucci suitcases, I’ve discovered a lot of clothes made by Elda Pavan. If at Polimoda you felt like in a museum, in the Maison Bibelot auction house venue there was an atmosphere of joy and happiness due to the 80 bizarre costumes of the brightest and improbable colors. The love for travel and cruises were definitely the fil-rouge of the exhibition with suitcases and bags sticking out at each corner and I was sorely tempted to purchase a maxi wardrobe-trunks that was proposed in the catalog for “free offer”.
Despite all the beauty and craftsmanship found in these halls, the most funny item on sale was not a dress, a hat and not even an accessory, but a large map of the world with hundreds of colored flags indicating all the places visited by Anna Rontani. A kitschy object that explained the writer’s lifestyle, or at least, the most carefree part of her life.
Errata corrige del 26 Novembre 2012: Nella precedente versione del post avevo scritto che Elda Pavan era una tessitrice che ideava e realizzava tessuti sperimentali per le varie maison e atelier. In realtà si tratta di un caso di omonimia e i vestiti menzionati nell’articolo sono della Elda Pavan stilista e ne ho la certezza grazie alla testimonianza diretta del signor Sartoni, figlio di Elda Pavan, che mi ha scritto una mail di cui riporto un estrapolato:
“Mia madre e Anna erano molto amiche e spesso abbiamo passato piacevoli momenti insieme. Volevo solo precisare che mia mamma fu una stilista e non una tessitrice dell’epoca come ho letto nel suo articolo. Grazie per le emozioni che mi ha fatto rivivere con il suo articolo.”
Chiedo scusa per l’imprecisione a tutti voi lettori, in particolar modo al sig. Sartoni, e colgo l’occasione per ringraziarlo della sua preziosa mail.