Sorelle Fontana's wedding dress

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

Sorelle Fontana wedding dress, 1963 Cavalli e Nastri archival collection

The bride made her entrance into the basilica of Santa Francesca Romana wearing a beautiful ivory silk satin dress with precious embroidery on the front and a seven-meter-long tail. The success of the dress was immediate and the name of Sorelle Fontana became official as a synonym for a new, totally Italian elegance. Many were the celebrities of the time who asked the three sisters originally 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 desired "the simplest dress with the most precious lace," and in fact, 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 of her during a dress rehearsal together with her sisters, we can see that she chose a dress with simple lines, made of 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 would not be able to afford a dress by the Fontana sisters, and that is what happened: the girl in question was named Amabile Altobello who, in 1960, participated 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 arrange a wedding. 

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

Among the gifts received (such as a honeymoon trip to Paris by Rai), there was also 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 for whom it was originally intended. In 2009, the dress was later auctioned at Sotheby's and sold for €12,000.

The Cavalli e Nastri archives also has the privilege of preserving a Sorelle Fontana wedding dress dated 1963 that belonged to a lucky girl from Rome's high society. It is a very refined gown made of ivory embossed silk that features an A-line with a tail at the back that is evened out at the front by a small bow. The dress is matched with a silk tulle veil of slightly longer length than the tail that is sewn to the headdress with a headband structure and lily of the valley decorations. The dress is kept in its original box along with the décolleté model shoes, also made of the same fabric as the dress.