Nonna Maria:The Most Important Thing is to Hope

(Photos and Video by Eleonora Carrano) (Street Shots by Ari Seth Cohen)
This week one of my students, Eleonora Carrano, invited her amazing grandmother Maria Teresa Antonelli to class. Maria is a costume designer and tailor for theater and opera. We were honored to have her speak to us about her career and love of design.
Here is some information about Maria written by her granddaughter:
Maria Teresa Antonelli was born April 20th, 1939 in Rome.She is the third of twelve children and the first girl of her family, so actually she grew up as mom since she was 4 years old.She is one of the last tailors in Italy that works as she does . Maria started her career when she was 14 years old making dresses for all of her family.She came from a very poor family so she had to stop making dresses and go to work in a factory. She wanted to be a tailor with all of her heart and kept the passion alive. At 18 she married Achille and they are still together. After her marriage she started to work again as a tailor. She made clothing for the rich people who lived in the town where she was from.She started to sew the dresses for rich wives of her husband’s work colleagues. She slowly became a famous dressmaker in her area.She is in love with her work .All she has is in her room where she sews .
When you ask what she likes to do she answers to CREATE , MAKE STUFF with everything she find. She is deeply convinced that you have to do in your life whatever you feel is important and you must do it with passion and with all of your heart .
Life can’t always be easy,but if you have your personal passion,it can bring you away, anywhere you want ,everywhere you need.
Maria thinks that hope is one of the most important things in your life,she never stops to hope and day by day,now she is doing what she really wants to for all of her life. She sews for her daughter’s work, which is a opera director. Maria says, “Study, give all yourself in everything you do, be curious because beauty is in everything, whether large or small one. The important thing is to hope.
  • She is so elegant and cheerfull.Ari, Iwill not ask anymore how you find smart people, you find they or they find you :)I learnt you find each other!Best wishes.

  • Ari, I love your blog and your women!

    I am a stalker because I think that you are too busy to be reading comments. I just wanted to ask what Eleanora meant by writing that Nonna Maria started to sew the edges of dresses for the rich wives etc.
    what a lovely happy woman too.

  • I love your blog!
    Greetings from Finland ♥

  • Nonna Maria is wonderful! A delight, full of passion!

  • ALWAYS! I get so much inspiration from this wonderful blog and the beautiful people who are featured each day. Greetings from Wisconsin…from one who was born and raised in upstate NY!

  • ALWAYS! I am inspired by this wonderful blog and the beautiful people who are featured each day. Greetings from Wisconsin…from one who was born and raised in upstate NY!

  • Anonymous

    I have always loved your blog,but these Italian posts are the best. Please visit other Italian places for us.

  • She is wonderful, the gorgeous lace dress and necklace combo is perfection, and I'm going to go listen to some Renato Carosone now – thanks for the post!

  • Ari,
    Thank you so much for having the insight and foresight to portray these beautiful, creative women. I think it's sad that our culture revels in young, photoshopped images that will never be attainable to the average person. But with luck, we will all grow older and we can do it with grace and love of life. Thank you.

  • Cool blog!

    ciao ciao from Rome

  • The positivity of Maria Teresa Antonelli jumps out of that video – she is contagious I am happy to say. The ending the video clip with the music with her dancing, perfect. Love this woman and her style.Thanks to Ms. Carrano as well for sharing her with everyone! And you too, Ari, for posting this.

  • .

    when i grow old, i want to be fab like this grannys here :3

  • Mi piace – ma lei vive in italia o nella grande mela?

  • Dear Ari, my English language is unmöglich, but I will Dir sagen, I love your Blog, the pictures, the people, einfach wunderbar. Und ich muss das jedesmal ausdrücken, wenn ich bei Dir vorbeischaue. Ich bin total, aber wirklich t o t a l hingerissen. Viele Grüße von Cosmee

  • Anonymous

    Maria Teresa sais in the video: "I could not become a model" Now, she has just become your model. How wonderful is that?

    Great work Ari, I've been following your blog since the beginning, and you deserve all the credit and attention you've got.

    Maria, Hungary

  • Lovely, you can see the happiness in her face!

  • What a wise, stylish, beautiful woman!

  • OMG, she is absolutely wonderful – truly beautiful inside and out!

  • What an inspiration. As always, thank you.

  • Oh this is wonderful!! Your student put together a wonderful video that captures her delightful grandmother. Such an inspiration to not only hear her positive message but to see her dancing it too!!

  • Your blog is really curious and cool 🙂

  • Wonderful creativity!

  • The jacket is a work of art

  • Me encantan tus fotografías de personas adultas con tanto estilo. Son realmente inspiradoras. Buen tiempo.

  • Me encantan tus fotografías de personas adultas con tanto estilo. Son realmente inspiradoras. Buen tiempo.

  • Wow, she's so inspiring! I wish more young ppl had the power as she has!
    XX from Poland

  • Wow she's so beautiful! And what a beautiful message to go along with her intriguing life.

    Thanks so much for introducing us to her!


  • She is a quintessential example of what Advanced Style is all about, inspiring so many of us!! Thank you Ari and friends!!

    Love, Jean

  • thanks ari, i needed this "pick-me-up" today.

  • Thank you so much. I really needed to read something like this. Recently, I've been questioning my decisions of becoming an artist because of how things have been going at my current job.

    But this article rang loud and clear and so very true. I have to have hope.

    Beauty really is everywhere and I'm so glad I follow your blog. Every post is so inspirational for me. So thank you.

    ~ Kieli ~