Moda Made in Italy: Sonia Speciale and Ines Valentinitsch

On Saturday, March 19th, a small, elite audience gathered in a tent at Smashbox Studios to see Italian fashion designers Sonia Speciale and Ines Valentinitsch make their American debut at 'Moda Made in Italy,' a show sponsored in part by the Italian Trade Commission as part of L.A.'s increasingly popular Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week.

Sonia Speciale's Fall 2005 collection started off with a series of predominantly black outfits that managed to be both futuristic and feminine, thanks to the ways in which she combined modern fabrics with romantic details.  For instance, a sleek black jersey wrap top was accented with ruffles, while a crisp, modern white shirt was paired with a pleated wool-and-silk skirt. 

Victorian chic: fitted aubergine blazer and gauze skirt.

About a third of the way into the show, however, a shift took place.  Suddenly, the models were wearing rich colors and vintage-inspired silhouettes.  One girl sported a Victorian-style outfit consisting of a fitted aubergine wool blazer over a full gauze skirt enhanced with a tulle underlay; another wore an ivory wool jacket with a frilly ruffled collar and matching stirrup jodhpur pants, creating an overall effect reminiscent of Mr. Darcy from Pride and Prejudice.

Pride and Prejudice-style white riding outfit.

Before long, the clothes changed again, and one model after another appeared in long, flowing black gowns that can best be described as 'Oscar-worthy.' The show's final piece '€" a floor-length black dress featuring a full, gauzy skirt and a bodice embroidered with oversized fabric flowers '€" was pretty enough to enhance the looks of any A-list starlet.

Gauze ballgown with flower-appliqued bodice.

As soon as Speciale's collection ended, Ines Valentinitsch's show started with a series of models sporting sleek, all-black outfits that one audience member aptly described as 'Prada meets The Matrix.' 

Like Speciale, however, Valentinitsch added feminine details that softened the clothes, rendering them fluid and contemporary rather than 1980s-stiff.  For example, a black jersey dress with sexy lace inserts was paired with a poufy, vintage-inspired knit capelet, while a plain black wool coat was updated with oversized ruffles and a flared collar. 

Jersey dress with lace cutouts and knit capelet.


Other interesting designs included a reversible silk dress with a cheerful white, orange and black print; a long black sweater coat held in place with a single Swarovski crystal button; and a transparent black mohair top paired with a ruffled skirt made of tiger-print latex.


Sweater coat with Swarovski button.


The final verdict? Both Speciale and Valentinitsch exceeded expectations with collections that were inspired, eclectic, and fashion-forward.

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