The Italian Almanac
Dressed to Shoot
Italian Spaghetti Westerns are the inspiration behind a new fashion collection created by the daughters of Giuliano Gemma, one of the film genre's leading stars. Vera and Giuliana Gemma, who officially unveil the line at the Pitti Fashion Show later this month, treated Romans to a sneak preview this week. The sisters said they took an active role in designing the line with well-known stylist Gianmarco Messori.
For Vera, it was "normal for us to see dad dressed as a cowboy when he came home at the end of a day filming on set". "But the fashion line is decisively not country style. It is urban chic, bringing together fashion and cinema and the top quality of made-in-Italy, appreciated throughout the world". The collection, which goes on sale in boutiques and Messori's own stores in Italy this summer, has already generated interest from buyers in the US, South America and Japan.
Items in the leisurewear range for both men and women include T-shirts and figure-hugging vests emblazoned with a selection of dramatic stills from the most famous Spaghetti Westerns. Some have close-ups of Giuliano Gemma as Ringo, pointing a gun at the viewer, and feature slogans like "I'm Back" or "Wanted". The line includes low-slung jeans decorated with bejewelled pistols that appear to be nestling in the back pocket; accessories in the form of sheriff's stars; bright red bodices decorated with silver dollar motifs; and aged-leather belts and high-heeled cowboy boots.
Giuliano Gemma flanked his daughters at the preview held at a Rome film studio but he decided against playing cowboy again, opting for a classic suit. Vera and Giuliana though were "dressed to kill" in skimpy vests from the collection, sporting leather pistol belts complete with fake guns. Guests lined up to get their drinks at saloon-style bars and spaghetti was the featured item on the evening's menu. Male and female models wearing items from the range even engaged in a mock punch-up as part of the show.
Giuliano Gemma, who often went under the name Montgomery Wood, developed a cult following abroad with the smash hits A Pistol for Ringo and Days of Wrath. The genre emerged in the 1960s, when Italian studios started producing low-budget Westerns, breaking with Hollywood's traditional approach. Although initially in Italian, they soon switched to English and are now considered pivotal in having changed the face of Westerns.
Sergio Leone's Man With No Name trilogy became the archetype for the genre, starring Clint Eastwood, a little-known American TV actor at the time. The final film in the trilogy, The Good, the Bad and the Ugly (1966), is among the best-known Westerns ever made. Cult Hollywood director Quentin Tarantino credits Spaghetti Westerns as being one of his major inspiration.