Couturiers to the stars

Zoe, Micol and Giovanna Fontana learned sewing and tailoring from their mother who had a tailoring shop near Parma, Italy and it was this trio of enigmatic sisters who put Italy on the fashion map.  Creating the Sorelle Fontana label, they designed for the stars of the silver screen.  Clients included Audrey Hepburn, Anita Ekberg, Elizabeth Taylor, and Ava Gardner as well as European and American royalty.

In 1949 the silver screen stars Linda Christian and Tyrone Power tied the knot. The sisters designed the wedding gown that saw them shoot to international fame. The rest, as they say, is history.

Linda Christian’s bridal gown fitting

One of the most iconic wedding dresses of all time was the gown designed in 1952 by the Fontana sisters for Audrey Hepburn whose romance to James Hanson was over before the big day.  At the request of Hepburn, the dress was famously donated to a worthy Italian bride, Amabile Altobello 

Their outstanding success grew from the fact that each of the sisters had a specific talent.  Zoe was creative, Giovanna supervised the finances while Micol conducted the marketing.   Micol took the brand to the United States making it truly global. Before long there was shift in emphasis from Paris to Rome and Milan.

Elizabeth Taylor was among the many Hollywood stars to call on the Fontana sisters’ talents. Sorelle Fontana had become the go-to atelier.

Hollywood block-buster movie producers sought their talents to dress their stars. The sisters designed the dress worn by Anita Ekberg in Federico Fellini’s iconic movie, “La Dolce Vita,″ 

The cassock dress designed for Ava Gardner and a similar version was later worn by Anita Ekberg in Federico Fellini’s “La Dolce Vita” Although being controversial at the time because it was based on the style of robes worn by priest, It was perhaps their most famous design.

The stunning gowns worn by Gardner in the movie “The Barefoot Contessa” were classic Sorelle Fontana design. She wore Sorelle Fontana’s clothes on and off the set

In 1957 a pregnant Jacqueline Kennedy chose this Sorelle Fontana amazing strapless evening gown of off-white silk overlaid with pink net and a rhinestone trim to wear to the Tiffany Ball, Newport Rhode Island. It is currently on display in the JFK Museum.

The Sorelle Fontana expressed the concept of “Made in Italy” in all the forms. Many designers followed in their footsteps. The brand became the trail blazer for those who followed.

View the archive footage here.