La Dolce Festa: a day of all things Italian

It's impossible not to get excited when the color combo green, white and red are displayed. It screams all things Italian, from style, fashion, food, friends and fun!

Frustrated by lockdown, renowned Melbourne stylist Lynette Pater was driven to find a way to make sure the ambience of her favorite destination Italy was kept alive. It’s hard to keep a good creative down and with 2021 posing so many challenges to come together to eat, drink and be merry the thought of a future fabulous feast with friends shouted much joy!

What came to mind instantly for Lynette were two of her great friends, Giovanni, owner of ‘The Olive Jar’ restaurant and Dean from ‘Vespa House’ from of all places Melbourne’s little Italy, Carlton. These two iconic local businesses both revel in this European culture and the recipe to hero Italy was only a few ingredients away. Giovanni, Dean and Lynette were known to share a true spaghetti and a drop of good vino in the past, so to add the elegance of couture fashion would be a hattrick for the perfect Italian setting.

Federica Mancusi with Giovanni, the Olive Jar owner

Lynette reached out to a handful of creative friends to organise a high fashion photo shoot that became our ‘Dolce Festa’ and was greatly anticipated throughout the long weeks of being shut-down. Downtime was spent connecting phone calls, texts and emails, stringing the concept together from model, makeup fashion and accessories, no mean feat as setting a date was still a very unknown entity. So many dates were set then unset and a bit of hair was pulled out from time to time however what was sure was Dolce Gabbana had nothing on us!

Our stunning Federica Mancusi was the ideal choice to model with her sultry Mediterranean complexion and dark locks of shiny hair, a desirable fit to be iconised in print by our illustrious and distinguished master photographer An La, no stranger to shooting some of the most glamorous women of Melbourne.

For Lynette the team just fell into place with couture headwear made by local Italian award- winning milliner Annette Sanfilippo who worked closely with designs handmade by prized designer Judith Penak. Australians crave the Italian Fashion influence and in true ‘haute’ spirit adorning our model in jewels was given to the amazing Angela Clark, master of bling! The look was polished off by the uber talented makeup and hair artist Iris Wieselmann and ‘when in Italy’… why not add luxe bespoke shoes for the occasion made by Mademoiselle Morgane.

Stylist Lynette Pater and Fashion Designer Judith Penak

Let the date be set for what could only be described as sheer Italian stylish decadence! A Fashion and food fusion at its best…and it was!!

From the moment the door opened at the Olive Jar you were hit with the aroma of ground coffee, fresh herbs and tomato sauce simmering which got us all in ‘the Italian Mood’. It felt even more rewarding as we had been released from lockdown after many months. Everyone was quick to start sipping a cappuccino or two and with a few hours of reshuffling the furniture and styling the abundance of Italian paraphernalia, everything from woven baskets, handmade dried pasta and an authentic printed tea towels…’PRESTO’ off we go!

Federica Mancusi outside the Olive Jar

Dean wheeled in a sensational pale blue original Vespa which took pride of place on the sidewalk of Rathdowne Street for all to see which just added that special authentic touch. Host Giovanni dressed in his Azzaro jacket and hat turned up the music and started singing an old Domenico Modugno classic ‘Volare’, the spaghetti was piled up high ready to twirl and then it was…. lights, camera, action!

Federica Mancusi on a 1969 Vespa-Lambretta

The rest of the day, not unlike a good Italian gathering, just unfolded into a day of Haute Couture "Dolce fa Niente". . .