The quintessential Italian bella donna, Sophia Loren made the transition from obscure Italian actress to fully fledged Hollywood star after her award winning turn in the 1960 film Two Women. Loren won the Oscar for Best Actress for her performance, and was the first artist, male or female, to receive an Academy Award for a performance in a foreign language. She went on to become one of the most celebrated Italian actresses in the world performing with some of the biggest stars, from Gregory Peck and Clark Gable, to Marlon Brando and Charlie Chaplin, as well as winning numerous awards of her long career. Alongside her obvious acting talent, Loren became famous for her piercing stare, her angular facial features and pinched chin. Even at the age of 72, she posed for the Pirelli calendar alongside her significantly younger counterparts Penelope Cruz and Hilary Swank. She oozes with confidence and emotional maturity, which has ensured her endurance as one of the greatest film stars from Hollywood’s Golden Era.
2. Monica Bellucci
Seamlessly transitioning between her modelling and acting careers, Monica Bellucci is an Italian force to be reckoned with. Over the course of her modelling career, she fronted magazine covers across Europe as well as establishing a deep personal relationship with iconic fashion house Dolce and Gabbana. Today, she still appears centre stage of the Italian designers’ advertising campaigns, lending her sultry, olive look to their collections, which have increasingly turned to traditional Italian culture for inspiration (shop similar styles atMaryJaneFashion.com). You can see Bellucci eating spaghetti bolognese, sojourning on the Sicilian coast and dancing with elderly Italian gentlemen in many of these now iconic shots. Bellucci’s film career has spanned many Italian and Hollywood films, and she will be seen most significantly as James Bond’s love interest in the new film Spectre, the oldest Bond woman ever cast. Like Loren, Bellucci is an iconic because she offers maturity, insatiable glamour and a classic Italian look that will never date.
Nobody embodies modern Italy than Eva Riccobono. Unlike Sophia Loren and Monica Bellucci, she offers a more gentle and delicate look, thanks to her bright blue eyes and blonde hair. She was discovered by photographer Bruce Weber and, like Bellucci, she is closely connected to Dolce and Gabbana who booked her for a campaign after she sheltered for two days with them during a freak storm. Riccobono has also modelled for Giorgio Armani and Emanuel Ungaro, and posed for the likes of Vanity Fair, as well as forging herself a successful career in her native Italy. She even hosted the first and final nights of the Venice Film Festival in 2013. Widely respected, hugely popular and teeming with body confidence, Riccobono is a breath of fresh air.