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ROME — Romans may be jaded about celebrity-spotting, given their proximity with Cinecittà stars. Still, curious onlookers pressed to catch a glimpse of the red carpet outside the city’s new Louis Vuitton Maison on Friday night.

To celebrate the opening of the sprawling boutique, designed by architect Peter Marino and located in Rome’s disused first movie theater, Cate Blanchett, Catherine Deneuve and her daughter Chiara Mastroianni braved the crowds.

This story first appeared in the January 31, 2012 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.


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Talk turned to the Academy Awards, less than a month away, but Blanchett won’t be attending the event, as she is busy touring Europe with Martin Crimp’s English adaptation of the German play “Gross und Klein” [“Big and Small”]. After bowing in Sydney last year, the production will travel to Paris, London and Vienna.

Blanchett explained she plays Lotte, who deals with her “invisible years, when her husband abandons her and she goes on a journey through Germany to find her useful self.” The actress exchanged greetings with Deneuve, who just wrapped filming the new 3D Asterix and Obelix movie, shot in Hungary and Ireland, in which she plays Cordelia, the Queen of England. “So much fun,” said Deneuve, of filming with co-star Gerard Depardieu, who plays the Gallic hero Obelix.

Speaking of Oscars, academy member Gustavo Santaolalla said he had cast a vote and was looking forward to the big night next month.  “I can’t tell you anything, though, as the vote is secret. It’s such a great celebration and I was blessed to win twice,” said Santaolalla referring to the awards received for Best Original Score for “Brokeback Mountain” and “Babel.”

The composer just wrapped scoring “On the Road,” by Walter Salles, based on the Jack Kerouac novel, with a cast that includes Sam Riley, Kirsten Dunst, Kristen Stewart and Viggo Mortensen. “It was challenging because the film reflects the Beat generation, which was inspired by music — there was always music as a background,” said Santaolalla , who has worked closely with Vuitton over the years and in 2008 composed the soundtrack for its TV spots.

Mastroianni, who narrates the Vuitton-sponsored “Handmade” documentary on the artisans working at Cinecittà, praised “the exchange between fashion and the movie industry.” 

“Italy’s savoir faire is our oil,” added Silvia Venturini Fendi of the value of handmade production and the preservation of the country’s craftsmanship.

Marking the relevance of the store opening for Rome, the city’s mayor, Gianni Alemanno, walked through the locale with chairman and ceo Yves Carcelle.

Other guests included LVMH executives including Antoine Arnault, Pietro Beccari, Francesco Trapani and Michael Burke, to industry figures including the five Fendi sisters and Delfina Delettrez Fendi; Natalia Vodianova; Margherita Missoni, and actress Margareth Madé, who appears in the 2012 Pirelli calendar by Mario Sorrenti.

Following the cocktail reception, Blanchett and Deneuve were among the 130 guests who gathered at the stunning 16th century Palazzo Ruspoli for a dinner under frescoed vaulted ceilings. “What an unexpected gem,” said Blanchett of the venue.

The party Louis Vuitton held later that evening struck a decisively different note. Held at the city’s former Geological Institute, the venue served as the backdrop for a group of actors, who danced and sang iconic Italian cabaret songs, followed by a concert by Scottish artist Jimmy Somerville.

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