Rare Discoveries!
Millinery Feathers Fontana Roma Gown

I hope you enjoy the continuing “exploration” here of delightful discoveries.  Some of the items are being offered on eBay so that you may start your own collection.  Be sure to let me know of any questions, comments or observations you have by sending a Contact Me message.

Fantastic Find!
A Fontana Roma Couture Evening Gown from the 1950s!

(CLICK on pictures for enlargements)

I was thrilled to find an exciting piece of fashion history, an amazing evening gown from the famed couture house Fontana Roma, which is “Rome’s Prominent and Oldest Fashion House” and couture designer to royalty, first ladies and Hollywood stars.

I don’t know who owned this particular dress.  I found it second hand and am sharing it with you here in story and photographs.

Background History on Fontana Roma

Sorelle Fontana store frontFontana Roma is known for its sumptuous gowns, fantasy dresses and magnificent wedding dresses.  They excelled in the use of lavish adornment and extreme styling.  The Fontana family fashion house was comprised of three sisters, Zoe, Micol and Giovanna.  They opened their own salon in 1943 after building up a large clientele of Italian aristocracy, and in the 1950s/60s designed for US “royalty” including Jackie Kennedy and Grace Kelly, as well as designing for many Hollywood stars including Elizabeth Taylor, Jane Mansfield, Kim Novak, and Raquel Welch.  One of their best clients was Ava Gardner who had Fontana design her personal wardrobe plus costumes for her movie “The Barefoot Contessa.”  Sorelle Fontana designed costumes for Audrey Hepburn in “Roman Holiday.”  They also made Margaret Truman’s wedding dress.

Audrey Hepburn 1st wedding dress
Audrey Hepburn 1st wedding dress

Linda Christian
Linda Christian

  

Elizabeth Taylor being fitted by the Fontana Sisters
Elizabeth Taylor being fitted by the Fontana Sisters

Margaret Truman in Rome
Margaret Truman in Rome

Fontana Roma’s storybook history of three sisters from the small Italian provincial town of Parma, making good and finding great success internationally for their extravagant and sumptuous designs, appeals to the dreamer in each of us.

Their lavish style became part of the La Dolce Vita, a celebration of Italy’s beauty and good life, popularized in films of the 1950s.

Dress Condition Details

Large stain on the backside of Fontana Roma Couture Evening GownSadly this dress has seen more than the average amount of wear and is in need of a good professional cleaning and some restoration work.  The dress has serious condition issues, specifically, some large stains including one on the backside and several along the lower hem area.  I don’t know what the stains are.  The ones along the bottom look like dirt and water marks.  There are also a few missing and loose beads and at least one or two small pin head sized holes.

A similar dress recently sold on eBay for $3,500.  These dresses were very expensive when new and are still quite sought after today.  You can see such fine vintage couture gowns being worn by today's starlets at events like the Oscars.  This dress has been devalued due to condition.  Too bad it can not speak and tell its own story.  Did the owner give it to a child to wear for Halloween?  Imagine being so wealthy that you could just toss aside such a dress!  Or, did the owner take a dip in one of those famous Italian fountains?  I can picture an evening of romance and drinking too much champagne, followed by a fountain hop, staining the hem.  We will never know, but this dress is the stuff that dreams are made of.

One of the pearl trimmed spaghetti straps is coming apart too.

I have not attempted to wash or clean the dress.  It is photographed as I found it.

The dress is extra small!  Probably a size 0, 1, 2 or maybe a tight size 3.  Approximately 32 inch bust and 22 inch waist, 34 inch hips.  Very Tiny and petite!

It has a 17 inch long, working metal side zipper.

Inside is the large white Fontana Roma couture label.The dress is voluptuously sexy with a hip hugging, form fitting style popular in the 1950s and part of the famed post war “New Look.”  There is a dramatic flair along the helm line.  It also has an asymmetrical heavily adorned peplum.

The ornamentation consists of pearls, rhinestones, gold beads and lots of metallic thread which is overall in pretty good condition.  The dress is very heavy!

Inside is the large white Fontana Roma couture label.

I hope you enjoy the photos for study and reference.

 

Millinery Feathers Fontana Roma Gown