One of the most renowned Italian fashion designers, Renato Balestra, has died in his home in Rome, at the age of 99, as announced by his daughters Fabiana and Federica. His granddaughter Sofia will helm Balestra’s fashion brand in the future.
Balestra was particularly loved and admired in Serbia. During a very difficult time for Serbia (in the 1990s), Renato Balestra’s famous creations brought optimism and hope to Serbia. This great artist, who designed clothes for royalty, wives of presidents and acting legends such as Ava Gardner, Natalie Wood, Gina Lollobrigida, Sophia Loren and Candice Bergen, was happy to come to Serbia despite the sanctions to donate money for charity causes.
Born in Trieste in 1924, he spoke the Croatian language, in a Dalmatian dialect, from an early age. Because his mother originated from former Yugoslavia, he felt at home here.
Balestra grew up in a family of architects and engineers, and he opened his first fashion atelier in 1959 in Rome. He is known for combining fabrics, with transparent materials, colourful embroidery and chic creations and with a special spectrum of colours, especially a special hue of blue called the Balestra blue.
During his career, Balestra received prestigious awards in recognition of his talent – he was made Honorary Professor of the Beijing Fashion Academy; Italian President Giorgio Napolitano appointed him Grand Officer of the Order of Merit of the Italian Republic in 2009, and he was nominated International Couturier Extraordinaire by the Asian Couture Federation in Singapore.
In 2019, Renato Balestra’s archive was declared by the Ministry for Cultural Heritage and Activities (MiBAC) “of particularly important historical interest”. It includes documentation produced from the mid-1950s to the present day and is made up of over 40,000 sketches and drawings, clothes and tailoring, press reviews and photographs.
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