Zoe (1911-1979), Micol (1913), and Giovanna (1915-2004) Fontana were born in Traversetolo, a small town outside Parma (Emilia-Romagna). Her mother, Amabile, ran a dress shop founded by her own mother, Zeide, in 1907. They learned their skills very early.
Zoe and Micol moved to Milan in the early 1930s, while Zoe got married and moved to Paris to study couture and headed back to Rome in 1937. Her sisters, Micol and Giovanna, followed her in 1940 and the trio struggled because of Second World War but their sophisticated designs were loved by the wealthy aristocrats and they were able to open an atelier,“Casa di mode sorelle Fontana”, with just 500 lire, in 1943.
The war was finally over and Hollywood stars noticed the most exclusive skillfulness behind the sisters’ designs: Mirna Loy bought all her costumes for That Dangerous Age in 1947; Linda Christian wore their pearl-encrusted lace wedding dress when she married Tyrone Power in 1949. Liz Taylor, Audrey Hepburn, Barbara Stanwyck, Grace Kelly, Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, Wallace Truman, Mamie Eisenhower, Joan Collins, Ingrid Bergman, Kim Novak, Sofia Loren, and Ava Gardner, who became a close friend of the sisters, were among their clients. Federico Fellini asked them to create the costumes for La Dolce Vita that included the famous dress worn by Anita Ekberg in the legendary scene of her in the Trevi Fountain alongside Marcello Mastroianni.
The Fontana Sisters became the first “Made in Italy” brand to export and they were an immediate hit in the United States. Their signature style was and is luxurious evening dresses and fitted suits with asymmetric fastenings.