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March 5, 2017

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Living Roman dreams in heart of Rome

ITALIAN fashion mogul Anna Fendi hit the highs with her first residenza concept Villa Laetitia that celebrates Roman heritage.

She put in the same effort and energy into her own personal apartment that stands in the heart of Rome.

At age 84, she is dressed head to toe in black with eye-catching jewelry and relaxes on her living room sofa. The room looks out toward the Dome of St. Peter’s Basilica.

“I have been living most of my life in the restored estate that once belonged to the Barberini family, who had retained a true Roman spirit.

“But I had missed one important thing: the view,” she said.

From this apartment inside an Umbertino-style architecture that was typical from the end of the 19th century to the beginning of 20th century, Anna is able to appreciate the views representing the essence of Rome — the Castel Sant’Angelo and the St. Peter’s Basilica.

“If you think of Rome, Castel Sant’Angelo is the monument and symbol that expresses the true meaning of being Roman. This apartment’s central location makes it perfectly placed for many of Rome’s major attractions, such as the fashion district, the Spanish Steps and the St. Peter’s.

“I’m so happy about the fact that I was born in Rome. I wouldn’t have picked any other city instead of Rome as my ‘birthplace’,” she said.

Anna was born in a house very close to the Colosseum in the heart of Rome. She then moved into the Barberini family house and restored the buildings and brought back its original splendor and timeless charm.

Having lived in this apartment with her partner Giuseppe Tedesco in Prati quartiere for a year, Anna has enjoyed the 2,500-square-feet space — with its grandly proportioned, interconnecting rooms, and high ceilings. It is awash with the most glorious natural sunlight that floods nearly all the room.

“Prati is a very unique quartiere with its own specific structure. It is considered the second city center. Another quartiere that I’m fond of is called Borgo Pio that has retained its authenticity till now. You can find a lot of artisans who are capable of restoring antique furniture and artworks.

“Even if I had spent my entire life in fashion, my great passion remains interior design and lifestyle,” Anna said.

Anna spent half a century working in fashion before turning to interior design and decoration with the launch of her own lifestyle brand AFV. But long before launching her lifestyle collection, Anna had started restoring houses with her very first project in Umbria, a hilltop village.

“I gave the abandoned village a second life by restoring apartments inside medieval buildings and bringing in energy and water. I’ve sold most of the restored apartments and kept four units for myself. The medieval village is located in a very vibrant and cultural hub of Umbria. My passion for contemporary art started from there.

“I met the great painter and sculptor Alberto Burri there by accident and since then became good friends and collected some of his works,” Anna said. “I’m proud that three of my Burri artworks are being exhibited in the artist’s retrospective exhibition at Guggenheim Museum.”

Talking about her own preferences, Anna said she prefers to mix and match. “Of course, I would retain the original elements of the architecture, but at the same time I want to fill the space with a lot of personal memories, surrounded by things related to the family, the love, the emotions.”

Creating a warm, chic atmosphere in a functional space where Anna and her partner can get on with every day life was the guideline for the renovation. She chose white as the backdrop to give a relaxing vibe and the touches of black to give some character to the rather soothing décor.

It is very different in style compared to her other properties that resemble a mini palace. The apartment is contemporary and sophisticated, filled with many Josef Hoffmann design pieces mixed with few period furniture, as well as a curated selection of contemporary artworks.

“I wanted to keep things light. Plus, I wanted to give the impression that things had been here a long time. I don’t like it when a decor looks forced.”

Anna particularly loves the Hoffmann furniture style that is unmistakable minimal and original.

“I have Mittel European ancestors so it’s probably one of the reasons I have a thing for Mittel-European designs: geometrical, linear, the playful contrasts between light and shadow.”

The modern style perfectly contrasts with older original elements, like the 1920s Art Deco chairs that Anna bought many years ago in Florence.

“The chairs were lying in the storage before I found their perfect spot here in this apartment,” she said.

Throughout the apartment, Anna has created a sense of continuity and flow between rooms. The space feels balanced, well laid out and curated. It features an artful blending of modern furnishings and Anna’s collection of works of Italy’s contemporary artists to Karl Lagerfeld’s sketches.

One of the highlights is the dining room wall cabinet with a collection of tableware in evocative colors designed by Anna, for which she employed Italy’s best artisans. She is extremely fond of Murano glass art and, in her collections, gives it another dimension of exclusivity and glamour.

The tabletop collection features striking designs in ultra transparence and extreme lightness. Black and white wine glasses are Anna’s signature colors while ruby, green apple, smoke, amber and coffee are some of the evocative colors that make the collection truly unique.

During the developing process, Anna rediscovered a very ancient technique called “incalmo,” which consists of the precise fusing of two different colors to make it appear as if it was only one piece of glass. These beautiful creations are only available at the store of Villa Laetitia where the complete range of AFV lifestyle products are available.

Anna presented herself more like a luxury artisan who gives futuristic ideas to Italian cultural heritage and traditions and that’s probably also the reason why she became the first Italian woman to receive the IWF Hall of Fame award.

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