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Zoe, Micol and Giovanna: the SORELLE FONTANA brand

Three haute couture designers from Parma who deserve the credit for making the Made in Italy famous all over the world

In 1938 in Traversetolo, a town in the hilly area of the province of Parma, the three sisters Zoe (1911-1979), Micol (1913-2015) and Giovanna (1915-2004) began their tailoring business following the family tradition. But soon, looking for greater chance, they decide to move to Rome where they initially worked as employees of a local tailoring workshop.

After a few years, continuing to pursue the ambitious dream of strengthening their business, the three sisters had already founded their first haute couture atelier during the Second World War. At the end of the war the business had grown considerably: the atelier located near Via Veneto had expanded by hiring new workers, and in 1958, taking advantage of the post-war economic boom, the atelier moved to the most prestigious Piazza di Spagna counting hundreds of workers.

The Fontana sisters had launched their style inspired by an almost Renaissance line and characterized by tight bodices, soft and very wide skirts, created with an abundance of high quality fabric.

Despite the absence of a real modern marketing and advertising activity, the three sisters had a brilliant intuition: they introduced the custom of making their creations noticed by wearing the models of haute couture to the mannequins de société who were prominent ladies of the upper class, on the occasion of important social events.

In 1949 they were called by the American actress Linda Christian to make her wedding dress, on the occasion of her wedding that was to be celebrated in Rome with the actor Tyrone Power. The images of the sumptuous dress (cost 700,000 Lit, a staggering price for that time), were published exclusively in Life magazine and this constituted for the atelier the consecration of a planetary celebrity destined to last over twenty years. In fact, the resonance of this international media event would have helped to pave the way for the Fontana sisters towards the world cinema market, in particular the American one. And so the creations of these three sisters, coming from a small town in the province of Parma, came to dress the most famous Hollywood stars, but also first ladies and noblewomen from all over the world.

The Fontana sisters are undoubtedly recognized great merits:

  1. They were the first ambassadors of the Italian fashion style in the world;

  2. They initiated the process of emancipation of Italian high fashion from the subordination of the French fashion houses;

  3. They represented the first step in the evolution, at a commercial and then industrial level, of a strategic sector of national economic life also for related activities, in particular the textile industry.

Some creations from the Fontana sisters' atelier are exhibited at the Metropolitan and Guggenheim museums in New York, and at the Louvre museum in Paris.

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