Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Roberta di Camerino

Giuliana Coen Camerino has died at age 90. Founder and designer of Roberta di Camerino, she died at home on Monday night.

Camerino began her career in Switzerland, where she had fled to escape Nazi persecution. She crafted handmade handbags, and named her company after the movie "Roberta", which starred Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers. Returning to Venice after the war, Camerino started using Venetian craftsmen to construct the distinctive brass hardware for her bags.

While using the finest of Italian leathers, many Roberta di Camerino bags were also made of velvet that was woven on antique looms.

During the 1950s, Camerino began a line of clothing, and she took part in the first shows of Italian fashion at Palazzo Pitti. However, in the 1960s, her work with trompe l'oeil effects on jersey knits was what brought her great success with clothing.
Camerino devised this method of trompe l'oeil in order to produce simply cut garments that were quick to manufacture and easy to wear, while capturing the attention with an eye to irony.

The dresses were made from flat pieces of fabric onto which the colors were printed separately, allowing time for each to dry before applying the next.

In 1980, the Whitney Museum in New York installed a retrospective exhibit of Camerino's work. How I would have loved to have seen it! Today, the Roberta di Camerino company is owned by the Sixty Group.