Only in Milan: Inmates Stage Prison Fashion Show, Launch Womenswear Line

(REUTERS . Stefano Rellandini).jpgForget making license plates. Inmates at Milan’s San Vittore prison dabble in fashion design, making costumes for theatre and television and apparel for small shops. Last week, female inmates there launched a womenswear collection, complete with a fashion show that included an Armani look (at right, being appraised by prison guards) donated by the designer.

Prisoners and former prisoners learn tailoring and sewing skills from the Milan-based Cooperative Alice, which, according to Reuters, has operated for 16 years to help women acquire skills for life outside prison. Last week’s show in the San Vittore prison courtyard included dresses made by inmates and designed by Rosita Onofri, as well as donated looks by Armani, Prada, and Alberta Ferretti.

[The inmates] already sell a line of T-shirts under the “Jail Cats” brand with a motif of cats or prison bars on the cooperative’s website. Wednesday’s show was a preview to the “Sartoria SanVittore” line they will launch in the autumn.

“For them, it is a beautiful moment,” Alessandro Brevi, of the Cooperative Alice said, adding that the show, the cooperative’s fifth, was a call for distribution. “Initially we start with the website, then — who knows — maybe Paris.”