Fabric panel, cotton velvet, designed by Gianni Versace, Italy, owned by Alina Castronini Galasso, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia, 1995-1996
Created by Gianni Versace (1946-1997), this fabric panel is a rare and unique textile preserved by the owner, Alina Castronini Galasso of iconic store, Fabric Fantasy, as a special keepsake and tribute to the genius and individuality inherent in Versace's designs.Immediately recognisable as a Versace design, this fabric reflects Versace's attraction to neo-classical motifs and his daring use of bold colours.
The concept of 'Fabric Fantasy' began modestly in 1974 when Alina Castronini Galasso (1946-2009) used contacts made during her modelling years to purchase fabrics from Australian designers and selling them at local markets. By 1975, a lease was signed on a small shop located in Ann St, Surry Hills. Growing success over the next 11 years saw Fabric Fantasy franchises opening in several major regional centres in NSW and the importation twice a year of large quantities of unused sample lengths sourced from major Italian fashion houses including Valentino, Versace, Lagatolla, Armani, Gai Mattiolo, Ricci and the Houses of Darquer and Solstiss in France.
Popular with the artistic community of Sydney, particularly Opera Australia and the film industry, Fabric Fantasy was a treasure trove of beautiful fabrics unavailable elsewhere in Australia. Costume designer Catherine Martin won a number of prestigious costume design awards including an Oscar, BAFTA and AFI award for her designs featuring textiles acquired from Fabric Fantasy.
Satisfying a market for exotic and sumptuous textiles, Fabric Fantasy played an important role in providing Australian women and Australian fashion designers with easy access to some of the most beautiful and innovative textiles available in Italy and France. Seasonal difference between Europe and Australia worked well with this business.
Fabric Fantasy helped establish the fashion careers of Alex Perry, Collette Dinnigan, Catherine Martin and Willow and celebrity clients included Kylie Minogue, Maria Venuti, Colleen McCullough, Jeanne Little, Rhonda Burchmore, and Kathryn Griener.
W Circosta 2011
This fabric panel was designed and made by Gianni Versace in Italy, 1995-1996.
This panel was originally imported from Italy by Alina Castronini Galasso as stock for her store, 'Fabric Fantasy'. Gianni Versace (1946-1997), one of the most colourful and talented designers of the late 20th-century was born in Reggio Calabria in Southern Italy and launched his first independent collection in Milan in 1978. Assisted by his brother Santo and sister Donatella, he forged the vastly successful Versace empire. An innovative menswear designer, Versace became internationally renowned for his ultra-glamorous creations. Immediately recognisable as a Versace design, this fabric reflects Versace's attraction to neo-classical motifs and his daring use of bold colours.
Born in Udine, Italy on 6 February 1946, Alina Castronini emigrated from Italy in 1952 when she was 6 years old to live in Australia, returning to Italy when she was 16 years old. The year spent in Italy awakened in her a lifelong passion for Italian culture and the Italian people's sense of style. On returning to Australia, Alina began modelling for Australian designers and Mark Foys. Working as a model in the flourishing Australian fashion industry during the 1960s and 70s gave Alina insight into its workings and contacts which were to prove invaluable later on.
In 1966 Alina married an Australian and had a daughter, Angelique, but when the marriage ended, Alina had to find a way to support herself and her daughter. Using contacts established from her modelling days, Alina began working for a large company. Several weeks later, the manager asked Alina if she knew of anyone interested in buying last season's excess fabric stock. Deciding to buy the stock herself, Alina began selling fabrics sourced from Australian labels at local markets.
Confident of filling a gap in the Australian retail sector, in 1975 Alina leased a small shop in Anne St, Surry Hills naming it 'Fabric Fantasy' prior to occupying a warehouse in 1980 on Commonwealth St, Surry Hills. In 1981 Alina wanted to "bring Italian beauty and design to Australia" consequently travelling to Italy to investigate suppliers of European fabrics. By 1985, Alina had several franchises operating in regional NSW. In 1994, laces and fabrics were imported from France from the Houses of Darquer, and Solstiss and in 1995 an Evening Wear department was established together with Italian homewares and handbags.
New collections for each season were showcased with a grand unveiling under the motto - "For some of the most beautiful fabrics in the world". A great friend and supporter of Alina's, gifted Australian designer, Christopher Essex (1945-2006) would decorate Fabric Fantasy by "sprinkling his magical glamour everywhere¬?"
Opera Australia and designers for Australian films frequented Fabric Fantasy for the glamorous and exotic textiles on offer. Costumes featured in the films, 'Priscilla, Queen of the Desert', 'Moulin Rouge' and 'Star Wars: Episode III' made from fabric sourced from Fabric Fantasy, garnered nominations in several major international film industry awards in the category of ¬?Best Costume Design¬?, including an Oscar (Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences), BAFTA (British Academy for Film and Television Arts) and AFI (Australian Film Industry) for 'Priscilla, Queen of the Desert' (1994) and 'Moulin Rouge' (2000).
Fabric Fantasy helped establish the fashion careers of noted Australian fashion designers Christopher Essex, Alex Perry, Collette Dinnigan, Catherine Martin, Kit Willow and celebrity clients included Kylie Minogue, Maria Venuti, Colleen McCullough, Jeanne Little, Rhonda Burchmore and Kathryn Griener.
Alina held a farewell sale before closing the business in 2005. She passed away at the age of 62 on 30 January 2009.
Moliterno, Gino. Pettini, Roberto. Sydney and the Italian Touch,Italian Cultural Association and The Five Dock Learning Centre, Sydney, 2003, pp. 82-83
Cook, Lynn. Fashion legends: A giant life Christopher Essex, 1945-2006, Australian Stitches, Creative lifestyle Publications, Singapore, Vol 14, No 9, pp 82-85
www.imdb, Awards for Moulin Rouge, retrieved January 2011
www.imdb, Awards for Star Wars III - Revenge of the Sith, retrieved January 2011
www.imdb, Awards for The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert, retrieved January 2011
W Circosta 2011
This fabric panel designed by leading designer Gianni Versace (1946-1997), was purchased from the Versace factory in Italy. According to Alina's daughter, Angelique Ristwej, the fabric was quite unique and its rarity meant it wasn't available for purchase in Europe. Fabric Fantasy was able to import the fabric due to the Australian market following the European season. Alina kept the fabric as testimony to the "glorious design qualities of the brand" and as a special memento celebrating Fabric Fantasy's achievements.
Alina Castronini Galasso (1946-2009) began selling fabrics from Australian designers in 1974 at local markets prior to securing small premises on Ann Street in Surry Hills and naming it Fabric Fantasy. In 1981 Alina imported unused sample lengths of fabrics from prestigious Italian fashion houses including Valentino, Versace, Armani, Gai Mattiolo, Lagatolla and Ricci. Specialising in printed silks, embroideries, opulent wool, mixed and woven fibres for day and extravagant evening wear, Fabric Fantasy was also instrumental in establishing the fashion careers of Christopher Essex, Alex Perry, Collette Dinnigan, Catherine Martin and Kit Willow.
A second marriage in 1986 to a "marvellous man", Erminio Galasso who imported tiles from Italy, gave Alina the confidence to import larger quantities of fabric in the same container as Erminio's tiles. Collaborating with a male also helped Alina's business standing in the eyes of the Italians and she was soon filling containers with stock exclusively for Fabric Fantasy.
Alina's motivation for establishing Fabric Fantasy originated from a belief "that women should dress well because when they do they feel better, look better and think better...I believe I have helped women and designers in Australia become acquainted with quality, beauty, innovation and with different types of Italian fabrics that we would otherwise never have seen..."
Moliterno, Gino. Pettini, Roberto. Sydney and the Italian Touch, Italian Cultural Association and The Five Dock Learning Centre, Sydney, 2003, pp. 82-83
W Circosta 2011