July is the month for fashion collections, and as well as the shows presented by AltaRoma (see article Rome's High Fashion) and individual couturiers, the city is preparing for the impact of the annual spectacle known as Donna sotto le stelle. This rather pleasant title translates as woman under the stars, but what it really means is that a plethora of spindle-shaped models will float beautifully down the Spanish Steps on the evening of 16 July, presenting famous designers collections.

This year marks the 20th birthday of the Donna shindig, and each time it seems that the build-up is more exciting than the actual show itself, despite the unique backdrop. Which designer, top model or TV personality will throw a tantrum at the last minute and not turn up? Will the lights fail? Will some dusty by-law be unearthed in the archives of the city hall, banning the whole thing? And, good heavens, what if it rains? Such wild and not-so-wild speculation, of course, is all part of the fun. But perhaps nothing will equal the shock of the 2001 edition when Valentino and Armani failed to show at the last minute. Last year the famous Italian designers gave a repeat performance of noses haute in the air.

Historic centre habitus will perhaps be wise to avoid the Spanish Steps area on the night and watch the event on TV. It will be shown by Canale 5 on both 16 and 17 July. Those who remember the 2000 edition will no doubt watch with bated breath and heart in mouth. That was the year an unfortunate model tripped and came tumbling down the time-worn steps. We can but hope that in 2003, skyscraper heels are out.