Rome's haute couture fashion week may not boast the same big designer names as Paris, but what Alta Roma lacks in high wattage runways, it gains in local charm. The five day event, overseen by Alta Roma President Silvia Fendi, features runway shows by historic Roman couture houses as well as up and coming Italy-based designers looking for a fresh venue for added attention. The real hidden jewel of this event, however, are the doors that Fendi has purposefully opened to the many nooks and crannies of Roman art, culture and artisans. 

The first day, for example, started with a  civilised midday cocktail in Gente - Rome's poshest multi-brand store in Via Babuino - for Sergio Zambon and the Spring collection he designed for Galitzine. Later that night, Andrea Provvidenza made a surprising splash with a presentation of coats by his Lodental label, that brought out the city's coolest young girls. Provvidenza was honoured the same night in a family-style dinner at the home of Ines Musumeci Greco, one of the city's most important contemporary art collectors.

The mood at Alta Roma is decidedly more relaxed than most other fashion weeks; At one point, young designer Caterina Gatta came honking down a small street in her Smart car and swooped me up for a ride to Cameron Silver's Decades book presentation at Galleria O, the city's best design gallery. An entire afternoon and evening was left open for journalists to wander the small cobblestoned streets for the A.I. Artisanal Intelligence project - a gallery walk which small art galleries hosted the work of young fashion and accessories designers.   

This mingling of old and new is what Rome fashion is all about. The organizers rightly shed light on some of the city's best artisans, like famed shirt maker Piero Albertelli and bespoke suit makers Sartoria Ripense. Overseeing the whole operation is Silva Fendi, who every designer in town considers their fairy godmother. This year, Fendi used her global clout to round up red-carpet dresses from a selection of top international designers for her Limited/Unlimited exhibition, and followed it with a raucous, rowdy, dance-filled dinner party that perfectly captured the exuberant spirit of Rome.