Italy’s Luxury Companies Step Up to Restore Monuments

Bloomberg Businessweek has just published my story on how luxury firms are contributing to historic preservation.

It would be hard to imagine a bigger confluence of luxe brands assembling to help preserve Italy’s cultural treasures. First there was the fashion house Fendi, personified for the occasion by its creative director, Karl Lagerfeld, dressed in a high-collared shirt, dark glasses, and fingerless lace gloves. Then there was the city of Rome, represented not so much by its mayor—though he too was in attendance at the Jan. 28 ceremony—as by one of its most famous symbols: the 17th century Trevi Fountain, featuring horn-blowing mermen, heaving hippocampi, and the water god Oceanus astride a seashell chariot.

In an era of European austerity, the Italian government has declared itself all but unable to take care of even its most iconic monuments. When a chunk of the fountain’s ornate sculpting fell off last summer, Rome appealed for help. Last week, Fendi answered that call. “The Fountain of Trevi is the symbol of Rome,” says Lagerfeld. Over the next two years, Fendi will spend $2.9 million to completely overhaul the fountain, cleaning the statues and fixing cracks in the marble. “With this crisis, I think the city of Rome has other priorities to spend its money,” notes Lagerfeld.

Read the rest.