The Eternal City might be known for its famous historic gladiators battling it out with swords in the arena, but this weekend saw a clash, not of steel, but of pillows.

Pillow fighters gathered in Piazza Santa Maria in Trastevere, under instructions to conceal their pillows until the clock struck 6pm at which time, around 50 people unsheathed their fluffy weapons and began wildly wielding them with surprising force.

Unsuspecting tourists and locals enjoying an early lunch or a quiet drink in the Piazza seemed on the whole delighted to witness the spectacle as pillows burst open littering the floor with their stuffing.

At around 6.40 the “fluffy apocolypse” bringers lay breathless and flushed on the cobbles, heads rested on their pillows, if they were still intact, and sang Roman street songs which spoke of carefree times and a “we don’t care” attitude. One fighter said this was a highlight: “I loved the spirit of it, especially at the end when we lay on the ground in the piazza and sang Roman songs.”

This year saw pillow fights take place across the World marking International Pillowfight Day, which was officially on April 7th, but events took place in the weeks surrounding the date in places as far apart as Spain, The U.S., Brazil, South Africa, Dubai and Russia.

The event takes place in Rome on the third Sunday of April. Some seasoned fighters labelled their weapons or sported T-shirts with slogans such as “Pillow me if you love me.” A handful also attended in fancy dress, which inspired much targeting of conspicuous individuals – one fighter dressed in a green all in one suit was soon buried in a deluge of blows from his fellow fighters after a shout of “l’uomo verde!”

The fight is part of an international “Urban Playground Movement” which turns public places into ‘playgrounds’. The movement has been responsible for hundreds of different events, including a mass silent disco in a London tube station

The movement organisers say: “One of our goals is to make these unique happenings in public space become a significant part of popular culture, partially replacing passive, non-social consumption experiences like watching television, and consciously celebrating public spaces in our cities as our “urban living rooms.” One pillow-weilder thought the event was “a great way to get people away from braindead activities like watching tv and playing on their computers.”

Getting the stuffing knocked out of him - l'uomo verde

Guisso wasn’t the only designer to pick up on the twinkling trend. Fellow Lebanese designer Abed Mahfouz’s shimmering collection also saw an array of spangling dresses, spattered with diamante detail glide down the runway.

The designer drew inspiration from 1950s French romanticism, using soft colours and frilly textures. The setting was of a boudoir, with the image of elaborate mirror and dresser affixed to the models’ entrance.

Mahfouz’s pieces were all made from dainty, tulle and chiffon fabrics, so light they were almost see through and appeared to float effortlessly down the catwalk. The translucent dresses left little to the imagination, with seductive cuts and thigh high slits.

The show climaxed with an exquisite wedding dress, gleaming with crystalline detail.

Another favourite was the answer to every girl’s style vs convenience dilemma; a jump suit dress. The trousered dress was one of the pieces made from a new material combining muslin and aluminium, giving off a metallic sheen in the runway lights.

The jumpsuit had a flowing train, giving the illusion of wearing a gown.  I apologise for the quality of the second photo, but I couldn’t find a high res image!

 

 

The highlight of the weekend for me has to be Gianni Molaro’s dramatic collection. It stole the show with funky colours matched with equally loud makeup and dramatic flourishes. An emergency euro dress delighted the audience, a dress with a large embellished euro sign and economic words sewn into the fabric, topped with a flashing blue siren worked into the model’s statement updo. The music supporting this genius ensemble sang the lyrics “we need you Monti.”

Other memorable moments in the Molaro show included a red mermaid dress worn by a model who was suspended from a gold metal box and walked down the aisle by three tuxedo clad men, while the model was playing the violin with an illuminated bow.

The music was atmospheric, with some models strutting down the catwalk to the sound of dry sobs, one such melancholic outfit saw a model in a white dress, the base of which was made of umbrellas.  Removing her sunglasses at the end of the catwalk, she revealed a glistening line of diamente tears hanging from one eye, a highly original accessory.

Another model wore a revolving bike wheel as a hat, and received much deserved applause for her impressive navigation of the runway while wearing a four-tailed dress.

 

Tony Ward attracted a large crowd which filled the room. His exquisite gowns were simple and beautiful.

Firework-esque ‘oohs’ and ‘aahs’ were heard from the enraptured and admiring audience. The colours were based on the designer’s time in Australia and the underwater wonder of the world, the Great Barrier Reef. Soft coral colours and swirling shapes floated down the runway, with midnight blues and blacks thrown in for instant elegance.

The century old fashion house Gattinoni had the most varied collection, with a show that took the surrounding fashionistas on a journey through times of revolution. It was refreshing to see male models begin the show, dressed in animalistic, earthy attire with large bull-like masks.

The outfits that followed ranged from flowing pastels to more statement pieces including one transparent plastic full length dress with angular shapes.

Each piece was sensationally accessorised with fantastic eyecatching jewellery, and headdresses that ranged from bold and dramatic creations to dainty and subtle chains of silver draped across the models’ foreheads like elven tiaras.

Guisso’s floaty, feminine dresses were in stark contrast to the Japanese collection shown the next day. TÔ LONG-NAM designer Major Motoko Kusanagi presented her set of strong masculine clothes, styled with tight ponytails and little or no jewellery. The outfits oozed power and confidence as the models stomped down the catwalk to a heavy electro beat.

The collection reflected the designer’s own military background and displayed a modern, even futuristic representation of women. Though mostly black and white, there were some vibrant blocks of colour, bold yellows and reds, that infused the monotony.

Several trouser suits were paraded round the intimate setting and even the more girly dresses were coupled with clumpy black leather gloves.

AltaRoma is a far smaller affair than the fashion show in Milan or London, but it is a very exclusive set of shows, accessible by invitation only. Most of the shows took place in an old church, Santo Spirito in Sassia. As is typical of both Italy and the world of fashion, every show began at least half an hour late, but though they may not have got to church on time, they did make it there in style.

Luxurious furs draped over the shoulders of many sitting in the rows of stylish spectators, including VIP guests such as Silvia Venturini, president of FENDI and of AltaRoma. The opening night held at Louis Vuitton Etoile fashion house attracted a stellar guest list, including Cate Blanchett and Catherine Deneuve.

The designers were all top of the range, luxury couture artists, some with a celebrity clientele. Jack Guisso for example, has designed for the likes of Paris Hilton, and his creations have graced the red carpet at a-list events such as the Golden Globe Awards in L.A.

The Lebanese designer’s scintillating collection dazzled onlookers with a series of glitzy gowns, littered with crystals. Each dress glittered down the catwalk, sparkling twice as much thanks to the strip of mirror spanning the centre of the runway. Soft pastel shades offset the striking bling embroidery, while the material draped lightly over the leggy models. The more racy blue numbers with sparkling cut-outs caught the eye of several audience members who applauded enthusiastically.