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Timeless Elegance of the Dolce Vita Era

The Felliniesque period inspired a dream. One of sophistication and extreme elegance that makes the dolce vita era senza tempo*, unforgettable, and immortal.


BY MONICA IOTTI

June, 2024




During that time, the city of Rome was the true capital of the dolce vita, where the undeniable focal point of high society life was “Via Veneto.” Rome and Via Veneto became famous worldwide for the presence of the most luxurious hotels, the trendiest clubs that were open until dawn, the high society, the luxury, and the elegance of those years. It became the hottest spot for all the “viveur” people of that era. These were also the years of economic boom, where the desire to live, enjoy beauty, the climate, and entertainment exploded in one of the most beautiful cities in the world.


But above all, the peculiarity of Rome in those years is “Cinecittà,” where not only Italian films were shot, but especially films from American film productions. So, Rome was invaded not only by technicians, producers, actresses, and actors but also by night owls, nobles, aspiring playboys, as well as world-famous directors.



Linda Evangelista with Stylist Valentino Garavani
Linda Evangelisa with Valentino Garavani, Photo: Rino Barillari

The private parties in clubs, villas, and restaurants were very famous, but one, in particular, marked the emblem of the “Italian Roman Dolce Vita.” Indeed, at the “Rugantino” restaurant in Trastevere, during the celebration of Countess Olghina di Robilant’s birthday, where Federico Fellini and Giulietta Masina were also invited, Anita Ekberg arrived at their table with a group of photographers and a Turkish- Armenian dancer named Aïché Nana, who improvised a striptease.


It was a major scandal; all the rolls of film from the evening were confiscated, and there were even legal issues. However, a few rolls of film escaped seizure, and so the photos of the evening were published in all the newspapers.That scandal caused a huge sensation for the time, but it made Rome even more famous worldwide, and especially those photographs by the paparazzi became the very symbol of the “dolce vita.” At the bar tables of Via Veneto, intellectuals, poets, and writers discussed. The intellectual environment indeed, did not absolutely disdain the worldly side, as it was a succession of parties, events, and cocktails on the terraces and in the Roman salons, then mixing also in the clubs. From this explosion of luxury, the attention to grace, to gentlemen, to elegance, and especially to etiquette intensifies; in fact, in 1960 the famous manual “The Art of Living by Donna Letizia” was published, a guide to elegance, good manners, and etiquette.


Etiquette and elegance are reflected in every aspect during that period. If each decade is distinguished by a piece of clothing, a fashionable detail capable of setting it apart from the others, the period spanning the 1950s and 1960s has many elements to leverage. It was just after the end of World War II, and an era of great optimism, economic development, and, above all, a precise evolution of style was beginning.


The style of that period, we can say, marked the birth of incredible fashion creations characterized by great femininity, elegance, and sophistication. These are the keywords of the new trends that emerged during those years.



Claudia Shiffer at Trevi Fountain
Claudia Schiffer at Trevi Fountain inspiring Fellini’s film ‘La Dolce Vita’ Date: 1995 Dress: Valentino Photo: Rino Barillari

The Bon Ton Style was the classic, essential daytime outfit, featuring a full skirt, colorful belts to highlight the waist (referred to as the “wasp waist”), and complemented by a white or polka dot blouse. Additionally, delightful cardigans and twin sets in a bon ton style were worn, along with short white gloves and long gloves with evening and cocktail dresses, Capri pants, “cat eye” and “square” sunglasses for a glamorous look, Hermès scarves, and Pucci dresses.



 

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