Lifestyle Fashion

This Rome atelier is behind many an Oscar for costume design. Will ‘Napoleon’ be next?

Today, the headquarters of Tirelli Costumes in Rome’s Prati neighborhood features mannequins wearing some of the atelier’s most famous creations: A delicate pink flowered outfit Tom Hulce wore as Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart in Milos Forman’s “Amadeus” (which netted an Oscar for costume designer Theodor Pistek); the rich red velvet bustle and feathered number Michelle Pfeiffer’s countess wore in “The Age of Innocence” (which gave designer Gabriella Pescucci her Oscar).

After the 1984 “Amadeus” design Oscar, Tirelli could have gone more international “because the market was immediately interested,” Trapetti said. But Tirelli, who died in 1990, was not convinced.

Trappetti remembered him saying: “I’m not going to America. If America wants, America will come looking for me.”

It has.

In 60 years, the tailor’s shop has created more than 300,000 costumes that are now stored in a warehouse in Formello, near Rome, where double-height racks of clothes stretch out across 7,000 square meters (more than 75,000 square feet). Costume designers come for inspiration, historical information — and hand-cut, hand-sewn creations from the team of Tirelli seamstresses.

“You can’t make those costumes in a factory. In a factory you can make films with robots, futuristic or fantasy. But these things have to be made by hand,” Trappetti said.

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