Steely Seamstress

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Sewing The Seventies: Maltese TV series

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Maltese: The Mafia Detective ran during last summer as a Walter Presents on Channel 4 in the UK. And it’s still available here on All4 or on Rai (Italian). The writers, Leonardo Fasoli and Maddalena Ravagli, had already achieved success with Gomorrah.The story centres around a certain Dario Maltese, played by Kim Rossi Stuart, who has left Sicily to work in Rome.  The marriage of his best friend prompts his return to Sicily, but seemingly within hours of his arrival a fatal shooting occurs, which throws him back into police work in his native Sicily. He decides to transfer permanently back to the island to uncover the people and motives behind the killing. The story unfolds gradually, and the web of deceit and corruption appears ever larger and more unsurmountable.

This is a stylish series and it’s easy to get lost in the beauty; the haunting theme music and the stunning locations. Incidentally, it took me a couple of episodes to realise that the stills that appear during the title credits show vital events from the story, their significance gets revealed with each new episode. This all added to the intrigue, as I tried to guess how each of the stills fitted in the puzzle. All in all, it’s a satisfying and memorable series.

The clothing felt very authentic to me. There were a huge variety of fashions worn by the characters. Maltese himself wears his signature brown suit teamed with blue shirts. His team sport a mix of casual leather jackets and suits with kipper ties.

A lighted cigarette is never absent from any scene!

We meet the unhappy Giulia, trapped in her wealthy influential family, but longing to free herself from the suffocating family dynamics. Giulia wears a stunning halter-neck dress perfect for gracing a society party.

Giulia – trapped, but not by her beautiful dress!

I tried to find photographs of the prosecutor, Gabriella Montano, but found that a little difficult. Below is the only one I could find, but I wanted to include her to show how they had dressed an older, working woman. She generally wore smart separates, skirts or trousers, with big-collared shirts.

The journalists generally wore far more casual attire, and Elisa often wore jeans to work on location.


I was almost expecting to see the Italy of my childhood depicted here. Thank goodness it was like this! The Sicily of the 1970s seemed seeped in violence. That said the scenes with the little old ladies all dressed in black at the airport, brought back a memory or two….

Ladies in black entering the airport

I also thought I’d make special mention of the cars – all those boxy Alfa Romeos and Lancias, where did they find them all?

This series is very much an homage to the men and women who risked and lost their lives in the war against the Sicilian mafia. Maltese is a fictional character, but the series is based on real events that occurred in Trapani in 1976. Maltese, motivated by his deeply-rooted sense of justice has been likened Giovanni Falcone and Paolo Borsellino, two judges who stood against the Mafia tide and lost their lives.

The characters of the journalists are based loosely on two real-life Sicilians. Mauro Rostagno was a sociologist, journalist and activist, who was killed by the mafia, at just 46 years old. Elisa is modelled on the Italian photographer Letizia Battaglia, who worked on “L’ora di Palermo” local paper in the 1970s.

Without revealing too much of the plot or its ending, I have no doubt It is a fitting tribute to them.

[1] TV Review (in Italian)

[2] Guardian Review

Author: steelyseamstress

Sewing a new wardrobe

One thought on “Sewing The Seventies: Maltese TV series

  1. Pingback: Seventies Fashion: The Mafia Only Kills in Summer TV series Episodes 1 &2 | Steely Seamstress

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