The title of Italian fashion designer Renato Balestra’s book says it all: Alla Ricerca dello Stile Perduto (in search of lost style). It sums up the concept underpinning this Italian fashion house, because the search for lost style and luxury has always been the driving force behind the work of Balestra, one of the Italian fashion world’s leading lights.
As a young man, his interests were wide ranging; he had a passion for music and opera, but there was no indication of his interest in fashion until the final year of his engineering studies when, in response to a bet with his university friends, he created his first couture design. The beautiful sketch immediately revealed Balestra’s extraordinary talent. Unknown to him, his friends sent his design to Milan and no-one was more surprised than the young engineer when the Chamber of Fashion invited him to show his haute-couture collection.
It was the 1950s and the new world of Italian fashion was at its zenith. Renato Balestra had still no idea what to do with his life, but from his base – Casa Balestra in via Sistina, Rome – he began designing for the theatre and cinema, merging his different passions and forging a link between the world of the arts and fashion. International success came with the creation of the first Renato Balestra label and the world’s catwalks opened up to him.
Over the years the Balestra label has become known for beautiful, elegant clothes made of bright fabrics and colored silks and chiffons, embroidered with precious materials. Innovative styling, high quality materials and sheer glamor are the key characteristics of the label. Soon celebrities and royalty alike began wearing Balestro designs, from film star Elizabeth Taylor to the first ladies of Egypt and the Philippines, the Empress Farah Diba, the Queen of Thailand and Saudi Arabian princesses. Everyone wanted the Balestra look and that has continued today, where the fashion house now offers obver 30 different ranges from haunte couture to perfume and accessories, particularly leather.
Despite his fame and worldwide recognition, Renato Balestra has never forgotten his first passions – the arts and music. Being a lover of opera, he has created the costumes for many productions, including Rossini’s Cinderella for the Belgrade Opera Company and Cavaliere della Rosa by Strauss performed at Trieste. Balestra is also an active and sought-after participant in Italian TV shows and has also turned his hand to writing.
An avid traveller, Renato Balestra’s passion for traveling is also his philosophy of life – that there is such a lot to learn from experiencing different countries, cultures, habits and religions. This has been reflected in the continuing expansion of the Balestra fashion house into every continent even reaching the Far East. Balestra is one of the few Italian fashion stylists ever to be awarded an honorary professorship of the Fashion Academy of Beijing.
Renato Balestra has kept fashion in the family – his eldest daughter Fabiana Balestra, is the chief director of the Italian brand. The Renato Balestra group, with boutiques and stores all over the world, is one of the best exponents of the made-in-Italy concept and its colorful and luxurious elegance have ensured Renato Balestra a place in the Hall of Fame as one of the world’s best Italian fashion designers.