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Savor a little of the Italian sweet life at 'La Dolce Vita' exhibit

November 12, 2010 |  7:01 am


On Wednesday night, the Italian Cultural Institute in Westwood offered more than just a slice of the sweet life. It celebrated its new exhibit, "50s and La Dolce Vita Style," in a major way. A generous sampling of gowns from 1950s fashion designer Fernanda Gattinoni showcased her talents for dressing both the Hollywood and Italian elite. Jaw droppers included two yellow figure-hugging dresses from actress Kim Novak’s personal collection (Each specimen is so teensy, Kate Moss would struggle with the zippers.) Created with precision and inspired by the ancient style of Roman draping, the gowns look equally as modern as pieces hanging on the racks of ateliers today.  

Blog2 Without a doubt, the "star dello spettacolo" was a black velvet gown featuring a sweeping silk train, worn by Anita Ekberg in "La Dolce Vita." The dress is even sexier in person than on the screen. Adding to the eye candy are the Perspex-enclosed displays. These encase vintage Rolleiflex and Leica cameras used by paparazzi, and handbags and shoes boasting the cutting-edge trends of Italian fashion from more than half a century ago.

The exhibit's wall space was festooned with the colorful and clever work of Brivido Pop's Marco Innocenti. Inspired by Italian films (he designs movie posters in Rome), Innocenti meshes modern celebrity images with recognizable Italian Renaissance figures. Pedro Almodovar is a patron of the artist and his collages.

Whether you're a fan of Italian cinema, fashion or fine art, the institute offers an authentic cultural experience. If you visit, try to chat with Michela Linda Magri, the effusive acting director. She's keen to enhance your vocabulary and knowledge of all things Italian -- and will speak to you in her native tongue if you're up for the challenge.

"50s and La Dolce Vita Style" runs Nov. 10-20. Admission is free; donations are welcomed.

The Italian Cultural Institute is located at 1023 Hilgard Ave. Gallery hours: 10 a.m.-1 p.m. Monday-Friday; 10 a.m.-2 p.m. Saturday.

-- Julie Neigher

Upper photo: A view of the "50s and La Dolce Vita Style" exhibit at the Italian Cultural Institute. Credit: Gianfilippo De Rossi

Lower photo: The "star dello spettacolo" black velvet gown. Credit: Gianfilippo De Rossi