The Sorelle Fontana wedding dress

The Sorelle Fontana wedding dress

The Fontana sisters' fashion is particularly linked to their famous wedding dresses since the international press published photos of Tyrone Power's wedding to Linda Christian, celebrated in Rome on 27 January 1949, and confirmed rumours about the designers' choice of wedding dress: Linda Christian wanted a haute couture dress by Sorelle Fontana.

Sorelle Fontana wedding dress, 1963 Cavalli and Nastri archive collection

The bride made her entrance in the basilica of Santa Francesca Romana wearing a beautiful ivory silk satin dress with precious embroidery on the front and a seven-metre long tail. The success of the dress was immediate and the name Sorelle Fontana became official as a synonym for a new, totally Italian elegance. Many celebrities of the time asked the three sisters from Traversetolo to make their wedding dresses, including diva Ava Gardner, Princess Maria Pia of Savoy, Janet Auchincloss (half-sister of Jackie Kennedy and Princess Lee Radziwill) and Margaret Truman (daughter of Harry Truman, 33rd President of the United States) who wanted 'the simplest dress with the most precious lace' and indeed, for her country wedding to Clifton Daniel Jr, Miss Truman wore an ankle-length dress with a bodice embroidered in antique Venetian lace. But the most fascinating story remains that of Audrey Hepburn's wedding dress, which began in 1952, when the actress was in Rome to film 'Roman Holiday' and asked the Fontana sisters to make her dress for her upcoming wedding to English industrialist James Hanson.

From the few photos showing her during a dress rehearsal with her sisters, one can see that she chose a dress with simple lines, in silk satin, with a boat neckline and long sleeves. The wedding, however, was cancelled and Audrey never wore that chic dress again. In a 2012 interview, Micol Fontana recounts that when Hepburn returned her dress, she asked them to give it to a girl who could not afford one of the Fontana sisters' dresses, and they did: the girl in question was called Amabile Altobello who, in 1960, took part in a radio game show (which she later won) hosted by Mario Riva and told them that, although she was engaged, she could not get married because she was very poor and could not organise a wedding.

So Riva, moved by her story, decided to help her by asking listeners to present her with various gifts so that she could have the wedding of her dreams.

Among the gifts received (e.g. a honeymoon trip to Paris by RAI) was a wedding dress from Rome. The Fontana sisters remembered their promise to Audrey Hepburn and, after slightly altering the original dress (the train was shortened and they added a bow at the waist), they joyfully gave it to Amabile, but without letting her know who it was originally intended for. In 2009, the dress was auctioned at Sotheby's and sold for €12,000.

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