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Luisa Via Roma: The Stendhal Syndrome

The Beauty of Florence is the Backdrop to the Fashion Destination’s First Shoppable Short

A cultural excursion takes a feverish turn in The Stendhal Syndrome, a motion-touch, shoppable fashion film by director Clara Cullen for LUISAVIAROMA.COM. Inspired by the sublime beauty of the Florence’s artworks, dancer Chiara Afilani erupts in movement through a series of historic locations, from Studio Galleria Romanelli, one of the oldest sculpture studios in Europe, to the fresco-lined duomo of the Basilica di Santa Maria del Fiore. The innovative short is inspired by the phenomenon of ‘Stendhal Syndrome,’ a psychosomatic disorder first identified by the eponymous 19th-century French author, who posited that an experience of great beauty could cause bouts of disorientation and hallucination. “When I first heard of the Stendhal Syndrome, I found myself comparing this feeling to the fashion weeks where I see so many shows and so much talent in such a condensed period of time,” says stylist and creative director Carmel Imelda Walsh. “The handcrafts, designs and concepts are all so unique to the world of each designer.” The whirling short is soundtracked by an original score from Alabama-born composer and visual artist Sahra Motalebi, whose shamanistic vocal compositions have seen performances at MoMA/PS1 and New Museum of Contemporary Art. The pioneering platform was an early adopter of online shopping possibilities when it launched its website in 1999, and here showcases its first interactive fashion film. Featuring garments from burgeoning London talent J.W. Anderson and fashion aristocrat Delfina Delettrez to long-standing staples Maison Martin Margiela, Jil Sander and Alexander McQueen, the retailer prides itself on making the work of both established and emerging designers available worldwide. “Art and fashion have always been closely linked,” says Walsh. “Even in earlier times, textile merchants commissioned paintings in churches to advertize their fabrics.”

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    A CFDA Shakedown

    Up-and-Coming New York Designers Battle it Out Ahead of American Fashion’s Biggest Night

    Ahead of tonight’s annual Council of Fashion Designers of America awards—presented by the Pope of Trash himself, John Waters, and where Rihanna will walk away with the Fashion Icon Award—the fantastical vignette Shakedown celebrates this year's Swarovski Awards for Emerging Talent. The first time a film has been commissioned exclusively by CFDA, NOWNESS enlisted filmmaker and frequent contributor Clara Cullen, whose visual grammar blends contemporary art with an irreverent approach to fashion. Cullen cast half a dozen new-wave ballers in handcrafted animal masks to go head to head in a playful dance-off clad in the nominees’ show-stopping designs, from the streetwear cult of Shayne Oliver’s Hood by Air to red-carpet regular Rosie Assoulin and menswear wunderkind Tim Coppens. “Each routine corresponds to the identity that I had in mind for the designers and the personality of the animal,” explains the Argentine director, who brought to life NOWNESS' interactive voguing experience. Taking cues from French literary classic Les Fables de La Fontaine, Cullen collaborated with set and costume designer Andy Byers of Isabella Rossellini’s trailblazing Green Porno series. “I’m always attracted to things that don’t correspond to the right box,” she says. “I wanted to contrast high fashion with a dorky, somewhat naïve idea.”

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    Francis Ford Coppola: Pater Familias

    The Legendary Director Shares Family Lore at His Palazzo Margherita Hideaway

    Coppola history comes to life in this candid portrait of Francis Ford by Alison Chernick, filmed at the Hollywood don's newest hotel, Palazzo Margherita, while he was vacationing with his aunt Almerinda and his 95-year-old uncle Anton. Tucked in the arch of Italy’s boot, the majestic boutique property is situated in the quiet hilltop town of Bernalda, or as the Coppolas call it, “Bernaldabella”, which has held mythic intrigue for the celebrated director since his grandfather Agostino left the region for New York in 1904. The auteur behind the The Godfather trilogy, Apocalypse Now and The Rainmaker, first made a pilgrimage to the Southern Italian spot at the age of 22, where he was welcomed by family members who were still residing there. He began to return regularly and, having already expanded his directorial vision to include a vineyard in the Napa Valley and several retreats in Central and South America, in 2005 he bought the virtually untouched 1892 Palazzo Margherita from a surviving descendant of the man who built it. Keeping the close-knit Coppola clan at the heart of the project, his cineaste children Sofia and Roman collaborated on personalized interiors for several of the building’s nine suites with French interior designer Jacques Grange, whose clients have included Yves Saint Laurent and Princess Caroline of Monaco. The Palazzo boasts several bars as well as a lush courtyard and garden, and the only swimming pool in Bernalda—built in time for Sofia’s wedding to Phoenix frontman Thomas Mars last August. The patriarch’s own headquarters features a Moorish ceiling design, honoring the heritage of his Tunisian-born Grandmother, Maria Zasa. Guests may find themselves sitting next to Francis himself at the shared dining table, savoring regional cuisine such as lamb prepared with chicory, tomatoes and cheese, and Lampascioni fritti (a local variety of baby onion, deeply fried), before retiring to the salon to curl up with a Coppola-curated library of Italian films.

    Visit our Facebook page to view behind-the-scenes images from this shoot, alongside a recipe for pasta e fagioli, straight from the Palazzo Margherita's kitchen.

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