Piero Tosi: Visconti’s Costumier

Italian Neorealism’s Star Costume Designer Invokes Rome’s Cinematic Heyday

As the International Rome Film Festival kicks off today, NOWNESS remembers Italian cinema’s glory days in this intimate conversation with the country’s most famous costume designer, Piero Tosi. Lauding the amoral, carnival-like atmosphere of midsummer nights in the city, Tosi cheekily recollects working with great beauties such as Alida Valli and the volcanic icon Anna Magnani, whose very name was a pass for the costumier to rip the dresses from women in the street. Organized with help from Italian jewelry designer Delfina Delettrez, filmmakers Roberto De Paolis and Carlo Lavagna stole a few precious moments with the visionary Tosi at his cozy home in the Italian capital. Tosi’s stylistic visions are most prominently seen in his long-standing collaboration with director Luchino Visconti; he was behind the sumptuous ball gowns and grandeur of The Leopard, as well as the Breton stripes and nautical ensembles that pervade Death in Venice. “We really wanted to meet the last survivor of Italian neorealism,” says Lavagna. “The most interesting thing about Tosi was the simplicity and elegance he lives in; the calm atmosphere he is able to give.” Nominated for five Academy Awards, Tosi also worked with other star directors including Federico Fellini and Pier Paolo Pasolini. “I saw this nostalgia in his eyes,” says De Paolis, “this feeling of having been part of something amazing.”

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Conversations (1)

  • Judith Watt
    Dear Nowness, Love your work, but this feature on the great Piero Tosi is incredibly weak. Is that all you can say? The genius who created the worlds for Visconti and Fellini reduced to a few quotes without all the fabulous seminal costumes and images he created? Surely you can do better than this? The man is the last great costume designer; beside him, the modern designers fail into insignificance. Please take it further!
    • Posted By Judith Watt
    • November 03, 2011 at 4:13PM
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