TURNING A NECESSITY INTO FASHION

Byline: Luisa Zargani

MILAN — If “Roman Holiday” were shot today, Audrey Hepburn and Gregory Peck would not be allowed to blithely zip around the city on their Vespa scooter without helmets.
For obvious safety reasons, a new federal policy was signed into law in Italy this month that requires helmets now be worn, regardless of a moped’s horsepower. Many fashion-conscious Italians described the law as too constrictive and complained that it was decreasing personal freedom — not to mention that helmets are hot and squash hairstyles.
But some designers here were quick to put their on thinking caps. To put a fashion spin on these now-mandatory accessories, they have come up with their own versions of what a hip helmet looks like.
The Louis Vuitton helmet, which displays the company’s trademark Damier check in a band around the midsection, is lined in terra-cotta-colored Alcantara, a material similar to velvet in feel, but often used for automobile interiors or upholstery fabric. The buckling apparatus is covered in Vuitton leather and can completely cover and protect the neck. The helmet can even be personalized with initials. It is available exclusively through Louis Vuitton stores and retails for about $420.
Trussardi’s luxurious version comes covered in python and retails for about $850. Colors are eggplant, blue, cognac and natural. The helmet is available only by special order at Trussardi boutiques. Future alternatives to python might include crocodile, the company said.
Prima Classe’s signature map prints adorn designer Alviero Martini’s helmets, which feature special straps that allow the wearer to carry the helmet like a shoulder bag. Retail prices are roughly $200.
Inspired by Indian turbans, helmets by ready-to-wear designer Giuliana Cella are covered with brocades from Rajastan, embroideries from Punjab, saris from Benares and Indonesian silk batik.
“I wanted to add a luxurious, historical and artisanal touch to objects which are indispensable, but not very attractive,” said Cella. Prices start at around $100.
For a younger, more casual look, Husky’s version features the sportswear company’s signature material — quilted nylon — in brown, blue, black, yellow, off-white and olive, all trimmed with a leather rim and retailing for around $130.