This is straight out of the blockbuster Jailhouse Rock; only now it will be called Jailhouse Frock. Women prisoners in Milan’s jails have started a cooperative known as Alice, which is turning out garments for fashion houses and theatrical and TV costume designers. They are now planning to take on the Guccis, Pradas and Fendis of the world by launching their own fashion label. So, instead of low-end jobs like digging holes and cleaning floors, the path to moral redemption is through haute couture. So far, the prisoners’ independent venture has been the line of T-shirts, the Gatti Gaelotti (jail-cats), whose black-and-white stripes no doubt have a tremendous recall value.
While most jails across the world including our very own correctional institution — Tihar Jail — teach inmates useful skills, this surely raises the bar, or should we say bars? The new line has the potential to become the rage because it has all that it takes to make a brand tick: sheer novelty value and a ready platform to showcase the products.
Will the not-so-creditable past of the jail inmates influence their designs? Maybe yes. And, we will soon see models sashaying down the ramp in a Vito Corleone shirt or a Salvatore Giuliano jacket. Or, maybe there will be a super sexy line for celebrities behind bars so that they keep their status intact while they serve their prison terms; in fact, who better than Paris Hilton and Naomi Campbell to promote Alice products as part of their community service?