From Audrey Hepburn’s iconic Roman Holiday moment to serving as a venue for some of the most epic haute couture shows of all time, the Roman Colosseum has been a powerful cultural symbol that bridges the border between art and fashion since its inception. So it makes perfect sense that luxury mainstay Tod’s Group has been dedicated to restoring the landmark for more than 10 years.
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The intense process has reached a new level with the brand-new completion of Tod’s second phase of Colosseum renovation. An area of 161,458 square feet has now been restored to its former glory, along with the addition of a new pathway allowing visitors to see an area of the monument never accessible before. The project began in 2018 and focused on the amphitheater’s hypogea, which sits below the arena. Think of it as the backstage area where gladiators and wild animals would prepare and wait for their performances. It’s there that the machines and equipment necessary for the performance of the shows were housed. Going back to 523 A.D., the year in which records indicate that the last gladiator show took place, spectators were never able to enter the hypogea. Access was possible only through four underground galleries, for the workers and performers who helped stage the shows, with intricate wooden elevators and mobile platforms. Now all of it is visible to visitors for the first time.
All in all, the project took 55,700 hours of work by more than 80 people including archaeologists, restorers, architects, engineers, surveyors, and construction workers. “The Colosseum is a national symbol of Italy across the world and its restoration is an opportunity to communicate our support to the cultural heritage of our country, an honor we want to share with everyone,” Diego Della Valle, chairman of Tod’s, said during the press conference held earlier this month.
Italy’s fashion brands have a unique appreciation for history and prove it by contributing to the refurbishing of cultural landmarks. Fendi funded the restoration of Rome’s Trevi Fountain, OTB group financed the renovation of the Ponte di Rialto in Venice, and Bulgari helped Rome’s Spanish Steps regain their glow, to name a few.
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But for Tod’s, the renovations go much deeper than this most recent, highly important work. The brand committed to the restoration of the Colosseum in 2011, with the first phase of construction beginning in 2013, concluding with a revamp of the northern and southern external facades of the structure in 2016. Tod’s has pledged a total of 25 million euros for the long-term project.
And it doesn’t end there. Over the course of the next two to three years, Tod’s will be spearheading the creation of a new welcome area and service center. The Colosseum’s current service center will be moved to the outer area of the Colosseum and renovated— making it more comfortable and accessible for guests. The restoration of the building’s galleries will follow.
For the Roman Colosseum, which once accommodated between 50,000 and 75,000 spectators, a fashion-forward refresh has never felt more relevant. If history is any indication, people will always show up for a major event.
This article first appeared in Harper’s BAZAAR US