The Genteel
April 13, 2021

Cristina Fei

What can you do with a bottle of wine? Enjoy a glass at a party, add a splash to your cooking - and make a dress from it? With the Micro'be' project, researchers from the University of Western Australia have been growing fabric from wine. Cristina Fei talks to scientist Gary Cass about the benefits and disadvantages of "fermented fashion."

By Cristina Fei

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Cristina Fei

Rome Italy

Cristina reports for The Genteel from Rome. She is a professional freelance journalist with ten years of experience. A creative thinker and a novel writer, she can't stop spending a fortune in music and book shops. She loves good food and wine and she's obsessed with television series and movies, and dreams of being a fiction writer one day. She's a curious traveler and Australia is her second home. With a proactive attitude and an eye for detail, she strives to take on challenges, no matter how difficult.

On January 31, Italian designer Giada Curti surprised the public by bringing silicon breast implants onto the catwalk at AltaRoma AltaModa. Cristina Fei uncovers the reasons behind Curti's penchant to provoke and why current and social affairs inspire her collections.

Just off the main shopping street of Via dei Mille in Naples sits a special atelier where tailored luxury shirts become masterpieces. Cristina Fei uncovers the secrets of the old Neapolitan tailoring tradition.

Political instability, a humanitarian crisis and an influx of refugees spilling over from the Syrian civil war has meant financial resources in Lebanon are tight. Cultural institutions and, notably, the country's fashion industry has suffered as a result. Cristina Fei speaks with local designers to find out how they have managed to keep their businesses surviving in Beirut today.

When the Christian Dior debuted the Lady Dior bag in 1995, the French fashion house probably wouldn't have guessed that it would become an inspiring muse for so many artists, photographers and filmmakers. As Cristina Fei visits the "Lady Dior as Seen By" exhibition at Milan's Triennale Museum, she examines the on-going relationship between art and the historic fashion house.

Do you open your luggage at your destination hoping to find your favourite dress as crisp as when it was packed? The design philosophy of Canadian designer Diane Kroe makes life easier for ladies who want to travel wrinkle-free and in style. Cristina Fei explores the philosophy of Kroe's new Travel Collection.

For its Hermès Editeur project, the French luxury brand is bridging textile manufacturing with the arts, working with contemporary artists to design its classic silk scarves. Japanese photographer Hiroshi Sugimoto is the latest artist to collaborate with Hermès in a collection based on Newton's and Goethe's studies on colour.

Would you ever go out wearing earrings made from pop can tabs? Or a necklace made from door locks, keys or clock dials? Did you ever think you could relax in your living room - on a couch made out of tires? Welcome to the world of Ilaria Venturini Fendi, third generation heiress of the Fendi Empire.

On the 40th anniversary of The Godfather's cinematic release, Cristina Fei explores Francis Ford Coppola's instrumental role in defining the Italian aesthetic through his film offerings and now, the recent lifestyle brand, "Francis Ford Coppola Presents."

To mark the 50th anniversary of Breakfast at Tiffany's, Rome's Ara Pacis Museum is honouring Audrey Hepburn through an exhibit entitled, A Tribute to Audrey Hepburn in Support of UNICEF. The exhibit is a collection of 150 unedited pictures of Hepburn, private videos created with Super 8 mm film and, perhaps most thrillingly, clothes and accessories worn by the actress on set and in her private life. Cristina Fei visited the exhibit in hopes of peeping through Hepburn's wardrobe and learning more about her relationship with Italian fashion during the 50's and the golden 60's and 70's. 

Hoboken, New Jersey may have Buddy Valastro, the Cake Boss, but Naples, Italy has Eugenio Marinella, the Tie Boss. Cristina Fei goes inside E. Marinella, the legendary, century-old tie firm, to learn more about the brand's business model, its focus on quality, and respect for customers and employees.

The team at SymbioticA, an artistic research centre at the University of Western Australia, has created a prototype of a "Victimless Leather" jacket from immortalised mouse and human cells. Cristina Fei speaks with SymbioticA's director, Oron Catts, and examines the controversial process.

In the heart of Ethiopia lies a untapped resource that has the potential of generating significant income at the local and national levels: bamboo. Cristina Fei speaks with Luca Colombo, an Italian architect committed to spreading bamboo hand craftsmanship throughout Ethiopia's design culture.

Cristina Fei spends a day with interior and yacht designer Gianluca Chiocca at his Milan atelier amongst boat-shaped couches and bosom-shaped beds. The young designer has a diverse product design roster, some of which have converted Fei's tastes from her conservative world of blacks and whites to his world of bright colours and unorthodox shapes. 

After its premiere in the UK a few weeks ago, The Raven, a thriller directed by James McTeigue and starring John Cusack, will be released in Italy on March 23. Cristina Fei spent a day behind-the-scenes at the Tirelli Costumi atelier in Rome where a team of talented Italian tailors made the costumes for The Raven and many other famous Academy Award movies.

On December 5, more than 35 pieces of jewellery from the collections of Estée Lauder and her daughter-in-law, Evelyn H. Lauder, will be up for sale at Sotheby's Magnificent Jewels auction in New York City. Cristina Fei traces the efforts of the Estée Lauder brand in championing the breast cancer cause.

The deeply conservative French fashion house of Hermès is making a symbolic move into modern retail with the launch of eight new heavy twill ties, using interactive, digital installations to present them. Cristina Fei explores the brand's recent evolution and visits its "8 Ties Project" at its current stop at Milan's Palazzo Morando.

Eco-tech accessories are the new and fashionable way to keep us connected to our electronic devices. Cristina Fei investigates the trend of eco-tech jewellery, which upcycles technology into fashionable accessories.

The re-election of president Vladimir Putin in Russia has seen thousands of protestors hit the streets of Moscow; but it's not just "power in numbers" getting the message across. Cristina Fei investigates how the latest Russian demonstrations turned into a wider, more fashionable affair.

Wedding season has begun and brides are busy choosing their special look. Apart from the white dress and bouquet, headpieces have become increasingly popular, especially in the UK, Australia and America. Cristina Fei talks to Australian bridal and race-wear milliner Viktoria Novak about the social meaning behind the headpieces that have broken into the Australian fashion scene over the last twenty years.

On the border of clashing Israel and Palestine is a small village where conflict and creativity coexist. Qalandiya is a Palestinian village in the West Bank, mainly known as the site of an infamous Israeli checkpoint that separates East Jerusalem from the West Bank. But as Cristina Fei discovers in a conversation with Qalandiya International artistic director, Jack Persekian, a new biennial art exhibition is aiming to repair Qalandiya's reputation on the world stage.

Alta Roma Alta Moda, Rome's biannual fashion festival concluded last week but it wasn't just the runways that were grabbing attention. X Arte, an art and design project that combines fashion with recycling, captured the fashion week's artisanal spirit. Cristina Fei speaks with fashion designer Ludovica Cirillo, who launched the project with her own artwork, The Three Graces.

Eccentric, cutting edge, and as glamorous as ever, David Bowie is back with a new album and a retrospective at the Victoria & Albert Museum in London. Cristina Fei chatted with co-curator Victoria Broackes to find out the secrets behind the cultural icon.

Eccentric, cutting edge, and as glamorous as ever, David Bowie is back with a new album and a retrospective at the Victoria & Albert Museum in London. Cristina Fei chatted with co-curator Victoria Broackes to find out the secrets behind the cultural icon.

Il Margutta RistorArte, a trendy vegetarian restaurant offers a delightful blend of food and design in an unforgettable dining experience involving taste, sight and touch. Cristina Fei meets the Umbrian artist Giorgio Lupattelli at RistorArte gallery to dig into the modern social distresses that are portrayed in his paintings.

Life under occupation has significantly impacted artistic and cultural production both in Palestine and in its diaspora beyond. The exhibition "Mustafa Hallaj: Diasporic Meanings. A Retrospect" showing at Jerusalem's Al Hoash Gallery tackles the issue of preservation of Palestinian art.

Cristina Fei speaks with Swahili Fashion Week's founder, couturier Mustafa Hassanali, about Tanzania's burgeoning fashion scene and the "Made in Africa" concept that is slowly contributing to the local economy.

Flowers have held great significance throughout history. "What's in a name? That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet," wrote Shakespeare in Romeo and Juliet. Speaking with floral designer Armando Malafronte, Cristina Fei explores the meaning of flowers in Italian culture and the ways in which they can be incorporated into fashion design.

After presenting his work "Occupied Garden" during the 55th International Art Exhibition at Venice Biennale 2013, Palestinian artist Bashir Makhoul spoke with Cristina Fei about how Palestine is seen by the rest of the world beyond the ideas of conflict and occupation.

What sound do your facial features make? Scientists from the University of Western Australia can tell you with their new invention, iDNAtity audio, an app that makes music from your genetic code. Is this technology a potential business or just a novelty?

The Re-Nate project, a fashion-lab dedicated to re-using and re-forming items, held their first meeting at the MòMò Republic restaurant and wine bar in Rome on 10 November. Cristina Fei went behind the scenes to explore how creativity can give a new look and style to worn-out accessories.

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