Wrapped in a long black velvet dress, with a plunging neckline and a vintage diamond necklace to frame the décolleté, Isabella Ferrari sinuously advances among the photographers’ flashes before entering a boutique-jewel in via dei Condotti in Rome, a stone’s throw from Piazza di Spagna.
The scene looks like one of the shots of the Sweet life Capitoline, but not by chance. The Emilian diva is the godmother of the opening of the exhibition Paparazzi – take a snap!, – tribute to Golden Age of cinema in the Domvs Avrea in Bvlgari, the museum space of the Roman Maison that often hosts precious rarities.
From Hollywood to Cinecittà
In what was renamed the “Hollywood of the Tiber”, Cinecittà studios hosted all the glamor in the 1950s and 1960s stars and stripes becoming the Mecca of the seventh art and the favorite lounge for celebrities from across the ocean.
Before the Instagram filters and Facebook live shows, there were the Vespa chases to capture a reflection of such splendor. That’s why one of the guests on the opening night was one of the historic paparazzi of the time, Rino Barillari, who never missed an opportunity to take some photos of Gina Lollobrigida.
The charming 94-year-old icon posed next to a portrait of her from the time, chosen as a welcome image for visitors. Her eyes shone at the sight of the display cases with Anna Magnani’s diamonds, Anita Ekberg’s sapphires and Liz Taylor’s emeralds. Each of those stones hides a story that is told today, with anecdotes and photographs just a few steps from Via Veneto, the beating heart of the jet set of the time.
When she reclines on the sofa in one of the boutique’s private lounges, Isabella Ferrari heaves a deep sigh, as if she wanted to breathe thatallure magic that surrounds it.
What does the idea of the Dolce Vita evoke?
“Even if I haven’t lived it, it always makes me think of the light-heartedness of what has been and has never returned, that pure desire for glamor. I did not experience it personally but today I wore a dress that reminds him a lot, with that special touch that gave so much hope after World War II, in full economic boom “.
What is left of that period today?
“In my opinion it has become an inspiration. Paolo Sorrentino himself in his works recalls Federico Fellini, who however lived all that, that Roman nocturnal world populated by paparazzi. For me his Half past eight it will always remain the manifesto film of the time “.
As a girl, which Italian diva fascinated you?
«Claudia Cardinale: as a child I thought she had such an ethereal and unattainable beauty that it even seemed unlikely to me. Growing up, I also became passionate about Monica Vitti as an artist and the story of Liz Taylor as an icon ».
The photos on the yacht in Capri of the kiss to Richard Burton, when both were married, are considered the first paparazzi scandal in the history of costume and on display in Rome there is also the magazine with the article written by Oriana Fallaci on the event . Even the divas, after all, were human …
“And this is what I like about that period … and I say it as a” broken “woman, who in any case would not like to live in that era, I prefer the madness of today, even though I realize that Instagram will never replicate the imaginary of the time “.
During the visit to the exhibition he greeted Gina Lollobrigida. What does it represent for you?
“I was ashamed to approach because in front of such an icon you do not feel like entering into confidence and you remain close by, almost detached”.
What is your relationship with the red carpet?
«The first ones, at the Venice Film Festival, the important ones, frightened me a lot. And if I could go back to that girl I used to be I would say: “But don’t care, drink two glasses of champagne and enjoy them”. Now I do it and I enjoy it, I am almost friends with photographers, but when you are young you are afraid of everything ».
What are the most absurd experiences you have had with the paparazzi?
“They chased me everywhere, even in church, during pregnancy and when I got married, unbeknownst to my parents. In this remote church in the Marche there were only four friends and with Renato (De Maria, her husband, ed.) I thought it was the right time to baptize my third child (Giovanni, ed.) “.
«After three today I found myself on the cover of Today while my friends threw rice in my face ».
Anita Ekberg took the stage arc of the set de The Secretary and he shot an arrow at a paparazzo and wounded him, outside his home, from where he can be seen coming out barefoot (but with the Bulgari diamond brooch pinned to his impeccable little black dress). Those images are in a display case of the exhibition together with the arrows, which he gave to the photographer as an apology. How did you react instead?
“I’ve always tried to hide, but I didn’t always succeed. Once I had fled to Greece for love, on the boat, with Rossellini (Robertino, ed.), But on my return they ended up on the covers of half the world. The paparazzi followed me from home, took the ship and went wherever I was. I suffered at the time, it seemed to me a fierce situation, for example when I saw those shots stolen in church as a kid. Today, however, I play with it ».
What did you discover in this exhibition that you did not know about the divas of the Dolce Vita?
“I’ve always had an image of Anna Magnani linked to the desperate roles she played in the cinema. Knowing, on the other hand, that she loved jewels privately and bought them herself, makes me appreciate this marriage that is married in her. And then to discover that Liz Taylor, who instead had diamonds as a gift, then donated them in an AIDS auction moves me ».
Do you prefer to buy them or have them given to you?
“I won’t answer this question, but I’d like to know how to design them, because I take great care of family heirlooms, like the historical coins that I always have to clean”.
He never leaves home without …
“My two bracelets.”
Have you already handed down some family jewels?
«To my daughters (Teresa and Nina, ed.), Especially at Christmas, I give some family stones, perhaps set ad hoc in new jewels. Mum did it too with me, with diamonds, to give them a new life and it is a tradition that I have always loved ».