Luccia Rosso is a luxury-obsessed social climber. She married the heir of fashion empire Impirio Rosso and her obsession with the brand drove her mad – and, when her husband sold his empire, drove her to kill him.
Luccia is the main character in artist Sarah Baker’s film Impirioso, a fictionalised account of the story of Patrizia Reggiani, the ex-wife of Maurizio Gucci, former head of the Italian fashion house, who was convicted of his murder in the 1990s and is still in prison today.
“The true story was interesting but still not quite interesting enough, so I really ficitonalised the family dynamic,“ explains Sarah, whose film forms the highlight of an exhibition at St Albans Museum.
“I have this evil twin/good twin line where the evil twin sleeps with the good one’s boyfriend, and there’s a chauffeur who turns out to be a long-lost son who’s then in love with his mother but is sleeping with her daughter. It’s very over-the-top, very Dynasty.“
Impirioso was commissioned by the University of Hertfordshire and was produced in conjunction with the staff and students of its department of film and television. Parts of the film were shot at Hatfield House and Luton Hoo Hotel, and the role of Luccia is brought to life by The Wonder Years and Conan the Destroyer actress Olivia d’Abo.
“Patrizia was very outrageous,“ says Sarah, 35. “When she was offered parole a few years ago, she was quoted as saying ‘I’ve never worked a day in my life and I’m certainly not going to start now’. I took the idea of her and created a fake fashion brand around her.
“Within the film, Luccia designs a whole lifestyle line and I’ve actually created a lot of the things that would be in that line, they form the rest of the exhibition – a quilt, pillows, tables and a lot of the costumes created for the film.“
The film and exhibition represent a significant development and finessing of Sarah’s work, and they deal with issues that have long interested her.
“It’s about the cross between TV, advertising and fashion and how these things infiltrate our everyday life,“ says Sarah, who moved to England from Buffalo, New York, in 2001. “I’m really interested in status and power and how people come to be self-important, and how society looks upon that. There’s a tragedy ultimately within the story and within these things – materialism can be the root of your demise, essentially.
“But the film and exhibition are also a celebration of these things – they’re fascinating and beautiful to enjoy, an expensive perfume is pleasurable. It’s a double-sided coin – luxury and pleasure on the one side, but greed and destruction on the downside.“
Was Sarah an avid Dynasty and Dallas fan when she was younger?
“I actually really disliked that kind of stuff,“ she laughs. “I didn’t get into all these series from the 1980s until about 2000. I was particularly into Dynasty with Joan Collins – I was really hooked by this idea of a power-hungry woman who will stop at nothing to get what she wants – and looking fabulous while she does it.“
- Impirioso and Rococo Rosso Casa is at the UH Galleries’ space at the Museum of St Albans, Hatfield Road, St Albans until April 14, 10am to 5pm and on Sundays from 2pm to 5pm. Details: 01727 819340 www.stalbansmuseums.org.uk. Impirioso will also feature in the St Albans Film Festival. Details: www.stalbansfilmfestival.com