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April 20 2014

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1 posts tagged "Giulietta Masina"

Le-Tan’s Library

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“I like being obsessed,” said Olympia Le-Tan on Thursday night as she welcomed visitors to the special project she had created for Pitti in Florence. And with an opening line like that, it was almost impossible to resist the web that Le-Tan had woven in the Museo Bellini, yet another of the jaw-droppingly beautiful Renaissance venues that seem to be ten-a-penny in Florence. When the Pitti organizers invited her to participate in this year’s event, it took Le-Tan mere minutes to decide that she would celebrate her favorite Italian films and books and, by extension, their directors and authors in the idiosyncratic medium that she has made her own—immaculately embroidered “books” that are actually handbags. The museum was draped in red silk curtains with the OLT logo, pink roses trailed over banisters, candles flared in the dusty air…atmosphere for days. Every shadowy room had vitrines displaying Le-Tan’s chosen 36 titles, precisely duplicated in thread as they would have appeared on the original book cover or movie poster. They covered a very comfortable waterfront from Visconti, Fellini, and Antonioni (her favorite of favorites) to Moravia, Machiavelli, and Pirandello.

But Le-Tan’s stroke of genius—as far as the Pitti exhibition went—was to persuade a game handful of friends to be photographed by Max Farago as a character from each of the 36. Olympia herself was the apogee of lush sensuality, posed as Silvana Mangano from a 1949 movie called Riso Amaro. Jennifer Eymere, editor of Jalouse magazine, made a very convincing Giulietta Masina from Fellini’s La Strada. Nightclub impresario André Saraiva was a plausibly penitent Jean-Louis Trintignant from The Conformist. As for Victoire de Castellane as Anita Ekberg in full clerical garb from La Dolce Vita? The success of that image was in inverse proportion to its unlikeliness. Poles apart were Hamish Bowles as Martin von Essenbeck, the cross-dressing Nazi from Visconti’s La Caduta Degli Dei (more familiar to English-speaking aficionados of early-seventies cinematic decadence as The Damned) and the ubiquitous Olivier Zahm, posed stark raving naked as a misbegotten extra from Pasolini’s terrifyingly transgressive Salò.

Later that same night, a handful of Le-Tan’s cast of characters regrouped on the Borgo San Jacopo to reflect on their re-conceptualisation of Italian culture. Most of them were French. You can imagine what they talked about.

Photos: Courtesy of Olympia Le-Tan