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Italian Fashion Throughout the Years: SORELLE FONTANA


Passion and talent: the perfect combination, which has always made Italian designers stand out from the rest. Throughout the years, iconic designers have made Italian fashion recognized around the world. A dream, a passion, a love: this is the story of three sisters Zoe, Micol and Giovanna Fontana.

Born in Traversetolo, in a small town near Parma, the sisters Fontana started learning the art of tailoring from their mother, who ran a small dressmaking business. The oldest sister, Zoe, decided to follow her dreams with passion and persistence and moved to the capital, Rome. A few years later, her two younger sisters joined her.

In 1943, they launched their first high fashion atelier. High necklines, long skirts reaching the ground, feminine dresses, cinched waists. These features captivated and charmed the Roman aristocracy, which started wearing Fontana’s creations to numerous important events. A turning point in their lives was the opportunity to sew the wedding dress for the famous film actress Linda Christian. The Fontana sisters created the perfect satin, long dress, buttoned up to the collar, beautifully embroidered with a very long train.

All eyes were on the bride and guests were totally amazed at her wedding dress. That was the moment when the fashion brand was established, not only in Italy but also internationally. In the following years, the Fontana sisters dressed Myrna Loy, Grace Kelly, Deborah Kerr and other celebrities. Myrna Loy was the first actress to have her entire wardrobe designed by them for the film That Dangerous Age.

Their brand also started creating ready-to-wear clothing, shoes and perfumes. Subsequently, in 1954, they also dressed Ava Gardner in The Barefoot Contessa, creating the famous black cassock dress. This particular dress was also worn by Anita Ekberg in La Dolce Vita.

The Fontana’s sisters participated in the historic “First Italian High Fashion Show”, organized by Giovanni Battista Giorgini at Villa Torrigiani. The runway welcomed a select audience of journalists and buyers from American stores. In this way „Made in Italy” and the creations of the sisters became globally recognized.

Each of the sisters had a specific role. It is said that the oldest, Zoe paid attention to the latest trends, Giovanna kept the books and Micol travelled to promote their brand. In 1992 the brand was sold and in 1994 the Micol Fontana Foundation was set up in Rome, housing an archive of the sisters’ models and creations. Some of their creations are on display in the Metropolitan Museum in New York and in the Louvre in Paris.

Portrait of Sorelle Fontana

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