Average Read Time: 5 minutes.

Let’s go back in time; Bruce Davidson, a social landscape photographer, spent an entire year in the 80s photographing people from all ends of New York. The morning work hustlers, the mid-day traveler, the energies of the night, or the mysteries of dawn. The outcasts with different personalities from all regions, all with different purposes.

Yet even though he captured this diversity of people, he said that “When we share the journey on the train, for a brief moment, we are all the same”, regardless of your background.

This was the true inspiration behind the latest DROMe summer/spring 23 collection by Marianna Rosati, and thanks to Fashion Bridges, we had the honour of seeing this Italian collection right here in Cape Town.

What is the Fashion Bridges Project?

The Fashion Bridges Project is a recent, but powerful creative and ambitious project, brought to life by Madam Ambassador Mrs. Oriana Mannaioli Cuculi, intended to establish the groundwork for a long-term, inclusive, strategic partnership between the fashion industries of Italy and South Africa. She is the woman behind the magic and has truly given South Africa and Italy a portal of opportunities.

The project is a collaboration between business, trade, and cultural organisations, including the Italian Trade Agency (ICE), the Italian Embassy in Pretoria, South African Fashion Week (SAFW), Camera Nazionale della Moda Italiana, Polimoda, Centro di Firenze per la Moda Italiana, and the Italian Trade Agency.

On this evening particularly, we were hosted by the Ambassador of Italy, Paolo Cuculi and Mrs Oriana Mannaioli Cuculi alongside guests such as the Premier of Western Cape, FEDISA, the South African Fashion Council, and members of the Italian community in Cape Town.

DROMe fashion Italian Embassy
From left to right: Ambassador Paolo Cuculi, Marianna Rosati (DROMe) Reynold Agge (ASA), Madam Ambassador Mrs. Oriana Mannaioli Cuculi, Allen Leroux (FEDISA)

Step into the world of DROMe

Earlier we spoke about the photographic work that inspired her latest collection, but it’s not just the recognition of unity in differences and originality, but it also speaks to a core concept for DROMe and her personal philosophy, which is the idea that we are collectors of personalities (inspired by David Bowie).

DROMe fashion show at Italian Embassy in Cape Town.
DROMe fashion show at the Italian Embassy in Cape Town.

“I’m a person who can take on the guises of people I meet. I’m a collector, and I collect personalities and ideas.” ― David Bowie

Marianna said “I strongly believe that, because I think that me, myself, and I am this person now, but in my life I have been so many people. I am not the same person I was 10 years ago, probably not even the same person I was yesterday.”

We can clearly spot the beauty and originality of an ever-changing, evolving collection. Each piece shared an essence of a character that might enter your life, or reflect a stage in your life.

The DROMe aesthetic is sophisticated and modest, with a significant focus on the finishing methods that give each piece life. Rosati is well-versed in leather since she watched her father, Ferrero Rosati, produce leather for brands like Prada, Gucci, Jil Sander, and Fausto Puglisi in the family’s leather mill as a child.

As you can see from the pieces showcased, she has an incredible ability to transform leather as if it was fabric, manipulating the colour, the texture, making it soft and creating silhouettes and illusions that make you wonder what the material could be. Not to mention her ability to create clean and precise, sharp details with an army of colours, all wrapped up in the most elegant minimalistic pieces. We truly appreciate The Fashion Bridges Project recognising her strengths and giving us the opportunity to experience her craft.

Introduce your character

When we asked Marianna about her greatest strength as a designer, we have to admit, it goes without saying. Her greatest strength lies in her abilities to use fashion to create characters, her ability to create with leathers and other materials for the ultimate illusion.

While her collection mostly creates pieces for women, some of them are genderless, but this is not the only fluidity she introduces to her brand.

You can tell her pieces are not just works of art, but they are practical, buildable and dynamic. Her pieces are ready to be dressed up or down for a full day and night look, especially in this busy day and age where multiple outfit changes are not always easy.

Elegant, practical and edgy, are three words that really speak about her brand and her strengths.

Inspiration from Africa

While Marianna had little time to explore our cities, she found inspiration in our people, our passion, perseverance and especially, our students:

“You guys have such a clash and crash of cultures, faces and languages and people coming from different backgrounds, all with a very strong and recent history, which for me has created such a raw energy.”

She admits that, given the fashion market in Italy, she comes from a privileged place where designers have a strong network in place for fashion, from productions to PR, to sourcing material, but here it is more remote and you have to stand with your own forces, making it more challenging.

She acknowledges and is impressed with the power and drive in our local fashion community and our urge to evolve.

“We use our sensitivity and creativity. It’s delicate, so be strong and believe in yourself.” – Marianna

Her proudest achievement as a designer has been her time in the industry itself. She has been producing collections and growing her brand for over 10 years, which is not the easier thing to do in this industry as a young designer.

Marianna commented that she was truly honoured and humbled to be invited to showcase and represent Italy through the wonderful opportunity that Fashion Bridges has given her. She concluded, “Here I see a reality I could never imagine, how much people here put in effort into making the fashion industry in South African flourish and develop with so much passion. It’s something that in Europe we need to remember, because sometimes we do a lot out of market and less out of fashion. Sometimes we take it for granted. Here you can’t. It’s very beautiful!”


Words   |   Wilke-Mari Hamman
Photos   |   Thomas Neil