How Cynthia Lennon
Inspired a Fashion Icon
John Lennon lived a full life that involved a variety of different phases – and two marriages. John's relationship with Yoko One is
famous across the world. His first union, to Cynthia Lennon, was no less critical. Cynthia played a significant role in John's early life,
mothered their son Julian, and was a great friend to Helen Anderson – designer of some of John's most iconic fashion statements.
John and Cynthia Lennon met in the 1950s at the Liverpool College of Art. At this same educational establishment, Helen Anderson
met the future Lennons, striking up a firm friendship with both parties. John was initially impressed by a portrait of Lonnie Donegan,
the so-called "King of Skiffle", that Anderson had painted on behalf of the chart-topping artist.
Upon graduation, Anderson found that her path diverged from John and Cynthia Lennon (then known as Cynthia Powell). While the
future Beatle and his soon-to-be wife remained in the UK, Anderson opted to seek her fortune overseas. She took on a job at Sorelle
Fontana in Rome, one of the most reputable and desirable fashion houses in the world that remains active today.
Sorelle Fontana loosely translates as Fontana Sisters, as it was founded by a trinity of siblings, Zoe, Micol and Giovanna Fontana, in
1943. Sorelle Fontana was responsible for dressing some of the most iconic celebrities in the world at their peak, creating a wedding
gown for Audrey Hepburn and providing glamourous outfits to the likes of Elizabeth Taylor, Jackie Kennedy and Grace Kelly.
Helen Anderson joined Sorelle Fontana while living in Rome in the early 1960s, after graduating from the Accademia dei Belle Arti di
Roma. This era was known as the Golden Age of Cinecitta (a movie studio in Rome dubbed 'the Italian Hollywood' by those in the
industry), which opened up a raft of opportunities for talented, young and hungry artists. Anderson made ends meet painting portraits
on commission while designing her own clothing and wistfully window s