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Shades of a Better Past: Italy's Mille Miglia Kicks off Today; Francois Hollande Meets With Barack Obama at Camp David

Aired May 18, 2012 - 16:00   ET


JONATHAN MANN, HOST: You're watching CNN. And this is Connect the World. I'm Jonathan Mann. Thanks for joining us.

Tonight, Germany denies it dropped a bombshell on the escalating EuroZone debt crisis. Berlin says reports that Angela Merkel wants Greece to hold a referendum on its EuroZone membership are not true. A statement from the Greek prime minister said the German chancellor suggested the idea to Greece's president. A German government spokesman told CNN this evening there is no truth to it.

But on top of that, for the first time, the European Union admits it's working on emergency exit scenarios in case Greece doesn't make it.

All of this putting more pressure on the already jittery stock markets, which finished in the red again. Adding to the uncertainty, five Greek banks have been downgraded by the Fitch credit ratings agency.

Even the possibility that Greece could crash out of the EuroZone has already rocked other vulnerable EU economies such as Spain and Italy. Becky Anderson has been taking a closer look at the possible fallout for the EuroZone's third biggest economy. She joins us now from CNN Rome -- Becky.


And John, we've been across the country over the past three or four days really trying to get a sense of what's going on here. Listen, you and I know that investors absolutely hate uncertainty, fear is a really debilitating thing, and the Italians that we've spoken to know that.

Let's talk about uncertainty, I'm talking about foreign investors in this country. Italians know that. And it's worrying them.

Then they look at the fundamentals for this economy. And that makes them even more depressed. Just had recently released numbers here showing a third consecutive quarter of contracting growth.

We are looking at an unemployment rate of something like 9.8 percent and unemployment rate for youth here of something like 25 percent.

When we talk about recession going back to those growth numbers, this is the fourth straight depression -- recession, sorry, that we are in now here in Italy over the past decade or so. Things are really, really tough.

The technocrat led government, the Prime Minister Mario Monti, of course, taking over form Silvio Berlusconi at the end of last year hasn't helped things here at all by instigating -- implementing some $30 billion worth of austerity measures.

Mario Monti is now in Washington. And he's been speaking to my colleague Fareed Zakaria at GPS. He's in Washington to basically give the Americans and those who are attending the Camp David meeting this weekend, one message.

Listen to this, he says that while he understands that austerity measures are important here, he's really urging other European countries to encourage Angela Merkel that growth is also extremely important for Europe. So there's a midpoint here.

But there's also a message in what he said, I think, to Fareed Zakaria today, a message to Washington. And that is simply this, back off for the time being. Europe is in a really bad way. And it doesn't help if the U.S. keeps banging on and saying you've got to sort it out. Have a listen to what Mario Monti the Italian prime minister said to Fareed Zakaria.


MARIO MONTI, ITALIAN PRIME MINISTER: The U.S. is easier to be very relaxed on even huge expansions of demand, however finance that, but it's - - it's difficult to forget it's an -- it's -- one should never forget seen from Washington that, that not each part of the world is a reserve currency country.


ANDERSON: An interesting message. And we're going to hear more from the Italian Prime Minister Mario Monti speaking Fareed a little later in this show.

John, for the time being at least, back to you.

MANN: We'll be with you in a few moments.

But here's a look now at some other stories connecting our world tonight. A high stakes working weekend ahead for some of the most powerful people on the planet. World leaders converging on a Camp David for the G8 summit. And at its heart the search for a solution to the EuroZone crisis. U.S. President Barack Obama of course the host. He's already met face to face with France's new anti-austerity President Francois Hollande. White House correspondent Brianna Keilar is near Camp David and joins us now live.

Brianna, the expectation is that President Obama is going to weigh into the debate that's dividing Europe when it comes to budgets and debt and try and encourage Angela Merkel to loosen up a bit and push some stimulus. What's the White House saying?

BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN CORRESPONDENT: What they're saying, Jonathan, is that it's going to be a very delicate situation. So if you here a push it will be very gentle. And a lot of it will be in private. I mean, we know President Obama's stance, really, on how to deal with an economic crisis if the U.S. really looks at Europe and is afraid that there may be a spillover effect here in the U.S. The president with the U.S. economic crisis went really for more of a balanced approach that did have major government stimulus, so we know where he stands, but it's certainly a delicate situation.

We saw, though, today the president meeting with the new French president Francois Hollande and kind of looking to him because he is talking about moving away from austerity and kind of looking to him and also the situation in Greece as maybe two things that can help sway Angela Merkel.

Here's what Hollande said at the White House today.


FRANCOIS HOLLANDE, PRESIDENT OF FRANCE (through translator): Did he share the same views of the fact that Greece must stay in the EuroZone and all of (inaudible) what we can to that effect. There will be elections in Greece and we wanted to send a message to that effect to the Greek people.


KEILAR: Now, I think there's an element here, Jonathan, where the U.S. sort of feels like it doesn't really have a leg to stand on, because it had its own financial crisis, it's not exactly even though it's very concerned about the outcome of this, is very much a bystander in this process. I think right now the White House is seeing the situation in Greece and with Angela Merkel saying that Greece should stay in the EuroZone. And you're hearing that as well from Hollande that perhaps the writing is on the wall that perhaps more needs to be done than just austerity measures and cutting government programs.

MANN: Brianna Keilar, it's going to be a busy weekend. We have the G8 summit at Camp David and then the NATO summit in Chicago. Thanks very much.

More evidence that Syria's largest city may be turning against President Bashar al Assad. Opposition activists say thousands of people took part today in the biggest protests yet in Aleppo. Have a look at amateur video said to show security forces in Aleppo beating up demonstrators a day earlier. The protests are significant, because until recently the city remains mostly loyal to the Assad regime.

The king of Bahrain did not join other monarchs for a royal dinner for the Prince of Wales at Buckingham Palace. Human rights groups had slammed a lunch hosted by Queen Elizabeth earlier Friday after the attendance of the Bahraini monarch. His regime's brutal suppression of anti-government protesters caused outrage last year. Monarchs from the around the world are in Britain to celebrate Queen Elizabeth's diamond jubilee.

And those are the headlines, let's go back to Becky Anderson in Rome - - Becky.

ANDERSON: John, I want to draw a line just for a moment under what is the doom and gloom so far as the economy is concerned here in Italy. Coming up after the break we're going to meet the people embarking on one of the world's most famous road racing. It started in Breschia here in Italy. And those who are in this race that will be making their way to Rome very, very shortly. That coming up after this.


ANDERSON: Imagine winding your way through some of Italy's most glorious countryside, a 1,000 miles through some of the world's oldest villages. And then imagine doing that journey in an open top car from the 1930s. It's going to take three days in what is one of the world's most famous races making it even racier on one of the world's most famous racing car drivers, Stirling Moss. Take a look.


ANDERSON: Classic cars in a classic race: the Mille Miglia, a 1,000 Roman miles began in 1927 as Breschia's answer to Monas' (ph) Formula 1 Grand Prix. It was an adventure for the wealthy, but everyone could take part, at least as spectators as the race rode its way through villages from Breschia to Rome and back again.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Take a Mercedes up to the starting point on perhaps the greatest international road race of them all, the Mille Miglia.

ANDERSON: Over the three decades, Italian drivers in Alfa Romeos and Ferraris dominated the Mille Miglia, but it's British racing legend Stirling Moss looms largest in the record books.

UNIDNETIFIED MALE: At the finish, just over 10 hours later, it's Moss who crosses the line to win in record time.

ANDERSON: His record in the Mercedes SLR was never beaten. As the much loved race was banned two years later after a crash killed two competitors and nine spectators.

Tradition is hard to put the brakes on in Italy, particularly when it comes to the glitz and glamour of racing cars. Just look around me, more than a half century after this race was banned, the classic cars are back on the streets of Breschia. The start and finish of this storied event, the route is the same, the atmosphere is humming as you can hear. No real surprise that one of the race's legends is still so keen to take part.

What do you remember of those days?

STIRLING MOSS, BRITISH RACING LEGEND: Oh, I mean I remember what you're seeing here, the passion of the people, you know what I mean? The cars you've got to realize -- the cars were -- the first car went at 9:00 at night in half minute intervals all the way through to midnight. Then they went in one minute intervals. And I'm 722 on the last race. And I was not the last. So you're talking about 600 or 700 people out there, many Italian hair dressers with goat master tape and you know I mean unbelievable.

I mean it is only in Italy, because of the fashion of what it means, you know.

ANDERSON: Stirling, I read that you never looked forward to the race. Is that correct?

MOSS: Yes, it is. Absolutely. This is the only race that frightened me. It frightened me, because I course didn't know the road. I mean, you know, know way to know 1,000 miles. I did have a passenger with me, James, who would give me hand signals of notes we've made before. But going into the race, once the flag fell, of course, then there was no fear.

Before that, thinking about it, I've doing speeds of up to 185 miles an hour, which was quick. And you know...

ANDERSON: With no seat belts.

MOSS: Oh, I wouldn't wear a seat belt, no way, because the trouble with seat belts is if you had fire, which is very common because of the whole of the back of the car is fuel of course you couldn't get out.

ANDERSON: Well, for safety's sake these days the race is rather more leisurely let's say, over three days. But the atmosphere, Stirling, hasn't changed has it?

MOSS: I mean, it is amazing how many Italians are here. I mean, people who know very little about motor racing, they all know the Mille Miglia. It is just a romantic race.

ANDERSON: Despite being over 80 now, Moss hasn't lost his competitive edge.

MOSS: I'm glad to say nobody will ever beat me, because it couldn't happen again.

ANDERSON: Nor should they.

Record breaking times may be a thing of the past, today it's the timeless quality of these vintage cars and the pride of (inaudible). He may be living in austere times, there is no shortage of amateurs competing for a place in this rally.

But nearly 1,000 hopefuls, just 380 have been privileged to get a place in the starting ramp.

To get a place in the race, quite frankly, as an amateur you've really...

MOSS: You have to push a little bit.

ANDERSON: You've got to push a little. And you've got to have some cash, right?

MACKO LAQUEUR, CAR COLLECTOR: Yeah. Yeah. There's an entrance fee. And although these days you can do it with a fairly cheap car, because the rule is any car that ever participated can get into it. And there were small, little Fiats and Volkswagens who did that.

ANDERSON: But let's face it, most of these cars are for boys with their toys, aren't they?

LAQUEUR: Yes. The bulk of the cars is.

ANDERSON: With respect.

LAQUEUR: Very serious, and are getting more serious all the time.

KARL-FRIEDRICH SCHEUFELE, CO-PRESIDENT, CHOPARD: Yes, absolutely, it's the boys playing with their toys, but the toys here are very different. You know, you have smaller toys and very big toys, but everybody is having fun. And the spectators having a lot of fun too.

ANDERSON: Frank, she's a big beast. How do you negotiate the roads in an event like this in a car like this.

FRANK KLAAS, GLOBAL HEAD OF COMMUNICATIONS, JAGUAR: Sometimes a bit heavy to drive, but if it's moving it's OK. But in these very small, narrow roads for example in Tuscany, it will be quite tough.

ANDERSON; And the 33rd modern Mille Miglia is off.


ANDERSON: Yes, it is. And it's 24 hours in and the first of those competitors making their way into Rome as we speak, 380 of them on that starting ramp. And we'll get a sense of just how many have continued the race. Not all of them expected to make it all the way. Some of those engines just really won't keep going for three days. But what an event putting a smile on the faces of thousands and thousands of Italians there in Breschia in Italy yesterday at the start.

Times are tough, though, here we all know that.

Coming up after this very short break no laughing matter, the comedian turned politicians whose sharp wit is shaking the political status quo. That coming up after this.

MANN: And later in sport, the Olympic torch lands in Cornwall as it beings its journey around Britain. You're watching CNN.


MANN: A warm welcome to our viewers across Europe and around the world. I'm Jonathan Mann. In just a moment, we'll head to Becky in Rome, but first a check of the world headlines.

Germany tells CNN there is no truth to reports that Angela Merkel wants Greece to hold a referendum on eurozone membership. A statement from the Greek prime minister earlier said the German chancellor had suggested the idea to Greece's president. Berlin denies it.

A flat fizzle of a finish for the most anticipated stock market debut in years. Shares of Facebook went public today on the NASDAQ, the price starting at $38, shooting up quickly, and then after a roller coaster session, it ended up just a fraction up.

US president Barack Obama and other world leaders will spend the weekend tackling the eurozone crisis. The US is hosting both the G8 summit and a big NATO meeting. The three-day diplomatic marathon kicked off today with Mr. Obama meeting France's president Francois Hollande.

The opposition says Syrian security forces are shelling their stronghold of Rastan. The fighting comes as anti-government protesters rally in Aleppo and other cities in solidarity with university students. Activists say at least 22 people were killed across the country Friday.

Those are the headlines this hour.

Italy, one of Europe's largest economy, but deep in recession. Becky is taking the temperature of a country very much feeling the effects of the eurozone crisis and joins us once again. Becky?

BECKY ANDERSON, HOST: That's right, Jon. And I was speaking to an economist today from one of the biggest think tanks here in Italy, and they were reminding me of why consumer confidence is just so low here in the country at present.

The top 8 banks in Italy are carrying something like half a trillion - - a trillion -- euros in mortgage debt. The swinging austerity measures that the prime minister Mario Monti is implementing at the moment include taxes on properties here, and that means that property prices are expected to plummet here, down as much as 20 percent, one economist told me this year potentially alone.

And that is hurting these banks, as you can imagine, particularly those, as I say, who have huge mortgage debt. The confidence is really, really low.

I'm joined tonight by Nicola Borri, who is a professor at LUISS University in Rome. I'm going to come to you in a moment. First, though, I just want to give you viewers a sense of what we found as we've crisscrossed the country here over the past couple of days or so.

We were in Milan about three or four days ago. You can imagine, high fashion when we think of Rome -- sorry, of Milan, we think of high fashion, and the top end is holding up quite well. But I spoke to one owner of a fashion manufacturer which is mid-sized, and this is what he told me about how he feels at the moment.


PAOLO BASTIANELLO, ITALIAN CLOTHING RETAILER (through translator): We feel very tired and sometimes very depressed because two years ago, some very crucial decisions should have been taken by the government, but they look in a different direction.

Also, Europe is taking too much time to make decisions. Greece is an example of what happens when decisions are delayed. It becomes too late. We are trying to do this, but it is getting hard.


ANDERSON: Yes, tough times. That owner telling me that he had some 150 staff just a couple of years ago. He's down to 70, his profits down some 30 percent at the moment.

Nicola, I hear these stories again and a again. It's not the top end of the market, for example, in fashion. It's this sort of midsized companies across Italy who are really, really hurting at the moment. The problem is, many, many companies in Italy are small to medium-sized enterprises, aren't they?

NICOLA BORRI, LUISS UNIVERSITY: Yes, that is definitely true. The problem is that families have less money, either because taxes have increased and have increased substantially, or because maybe they've lost their job. And so they are not spending.

And that's why the demand for different products from clothing to cars to food has definitely dropped. That's definitely a big problem in the country.

ANDERSON: As an economist, when you keep an eye on what is going on around Europe at the moment and you hear the sort of confusion that reins, for example, today there was talk that the German chancellor had asked the Greeks to call a referendum on the euro, for example. The Greeks certainly not confirming that this evening.

Most leaders, including your own, now in Washington for the G8 summit of world leaders. Mario Monti making an interesting comment tonight to my colleague Fareed Zakaria, to a certain extent suggesting that he needs and the rest of Europe needs America to sort of back off at the moment, to stop complaining about what's going on in Europe.

He says we realize there's a crisis here, but it doesn't help if the Americans keep bagging on about it, as it were. Do you agree?

BORRI: I don't know. I think that the -- what is true is that we as Europe, we can solve the problem. It's doable, it's not impossible, but we need unity and we need to focus.

So I think that to exit from this crisis, we need the -- yes, we need the reforms at the domestic level, as many countries are doing, but we need major reforms at the European level, and I'm talking about more fiscal unity, with sharing among the different countries. And this means, also, a stronger political unity.

ANDERSON: All right, stay with me for one moment. Politicians having a really tough time here in Italy, as they are across the world -- across Europe, well certainly across the world as well.

There's a sense that officials in Europe really haven't stepped up to the plate and sorted things early enough, people criticizing Silvio Berlusconi, here, for being profligate over the finances in years that he was prime minister.

There's one politician or potential politician here who is riding a wave, as it were, of discontent. Have a look at this guy. He's not your average politician, but he's an interesting one.


ANDERSON (voice-over): He's known as the clown prince of Italian politics. Beppe Grillo is the comedian-turned-politician whose Five Star Movement is winning the hearts and votes of Italians fed up with mainstream parties.

BEPPE GRILLO, FOUNDER, FIVE STAR MOVEMENT (through translator): My vision of politics was that of politicians at the time. The parties, like the socialists. Slapstick-studded jokes on the socialists, on the politicians.

And then I was kicked out of public television because I made a joke on a political party that was stealing.

ANDERSON: But Grillo has since found a new audience at rallies like this and on the internet, where he continues to attack Italy's leaders with satire.


ANDERSON: It's a wave of popularity that's been dubbed "The Beppe Boom."

ANDERSON (on camera): Why do you think he's successful now in Italy?

MARTINA PALADINO, SUPPORTER, FIVE STAR MOVEMENT: We have a lot of trouble right now, and he's the only way -- he's a different way to make politics, to change things from the very -- from the ground.

MATTEO CAVALCA, SUPPORTER, FIVE STAR MOVEMENT: We have the same politicians since I'm five years old, so it's time to change. I want to see new faces. There are no young people here. They are proposing young people. He's a change -- changing of something here.

LAURA ANTIMIANI, SUPPORTER, FIVE STAR MOVEMENET: We don't trust the - - the parties anymore. They didn't do -- good things in the past, and they are not doing good things in the present.

ANDERSON: So when or if people said this guy isn't serious, he's just a comedian, what do you say to them?

ANTIMIANI: Yes, he is a comedian. But he says loudly, very loudly, what we would like to hear.



ANDERSON: Well, there's no doubt that he can entertain a crowd. But the question is, can Beppe destabilize mainstream politics?


ANDERSON: Well, if he is to do that, he's going to have to step up to the plate with some fairly responsible solutions to Italy's woes, both economically and politically. I sat down with him in Milan and, for example, I asked him what his solution to this euro crisis would be and indeed whether he wanted Italy to stay in the euro. He slightly hedged his bets. Have a listen to this.


GRILLO (through translator): At the moment, I can talk about the problems of a city and of the regions. We have an idea of a national program when we will have the problem of getting into parliament. We'll see. It's a work in progress. But we are forced to think of a system that is different from this one. This one no longer works.


ANDERSON: All right. Well, is this a credible threat to the mainstream political status quo, as it were? Nicola, I put it to him, you need some solution to Italy's woes. For example, what would you do about the euro? And as I suggested, hedging his bets somewhat. Is this a credible force? Because certainly in local elections, this is a man who's really gaining an awful lot of support.

BORRI: Yes, I don't know if he's credible, but I think that he has good chances in future elections to get a lot of support. Some polls talk about 15 percent, which is a lot.

So I don't know. To be honest, I don't know about his political views or solutions for this crisis, because they are not clear. He doesn't go on TV or on talk shows to describe what he wants to do, and he mostly has these rallies, in which he talks about solutions like, as far as I know, dropping out of the eurozone or not paying our debt. I don't think those are the solutions that our country needs.

So, in this sense, I don't think he's credible as a solution to our problem. We need responsible politicians that work together with other politicians.

ANDERSON: But do you have them?

BORRI: I think we do. We do have some. We have some good, for example, mayors in some big administrations in the country, and they are good, they are running their cities well. The problem is that these people are not represented in the parliament.

ANDERSON: We're going to have to leave it there. We thank you very much indeed for joining us, Nicola Borri, professor at a Rome university.

That's it from us for the time being. It's been an interesting couple of days here in Italy. It is depressing for many, many people here who are really struggling, but as I say having covered this story across Europe over the past couple of years, I've got to say, things are equally as tough elsewhere.

Jon, back to you.

MANN: Becky Anderson, thanks very much. Up next in sports, something a lot of people are just looking forward to, the Champions League final just one day away. The excitement in Munich reaching fever pitch. We'll be talking about the biggest game in club football next.


MANN: The Olympic torch has now touched down on British soil. Footballer David Beckham, who's still hoping to make the team for his country, lit its flame after the torch's journey from Athens.

The torch now will be taken to Land's End Saturday, where it will begin its 8,000 mile relay around Britain. Over 70 days, 8,000 people are to carry the torch through all four corners of Britain before it reaches the Olympic Stadium in London on July 27th.

Welcome back. We are talking sports, but we're going to talk about something that's a lot closer and has, well, if anything, even more excitement, maybe: the Champions League final. It's going to be quite a match.

DON RIDDELL, CNN SPORTS CORRESPONDENT: I certainly hope so. Yes, as the flame was touching down in Britain, around about that time, Chelsea were touching down in Munich ahead of the Champions League final.

Of course, they are one of the two teams playing in this final, but they really do feel like the away team, because coincidentally, Jon, the final is in Munich this year, and Bayern Munich are in the final.

A lot of people are making Bayern the favorites. They're a team that have got a lot of experience at this level, they've won the European Cup several times before. Chelsea have never won it. And actually, they need to win this competition if they're going to play in the Champions League again next season.

So, an awful lot riding on this for Chelsea. Both players -- both teams have suspensions. I would tip Bayern to be the favorites, but given the way this season has gone and the way Chelsea have turned a lot of things around, they seem to me to be a charmed team this season, so it may well be that their name is already on the trophy.

MANN: Now, I gather we've been talking to and hearing from Ronaldo. The truth is, I don't know what he was talking about. Was it this?

RIDDELL: Yes, we asked him about this. Of course, he would love to have been playing in this final. Remember, he missed a penalty for Real Madrid against Bayern Munich, which cost his team a place in the final. But he still had a phenomenal season, and Pedro Pinto has been tracking him down for two years, but he finally got hold of him this week.


PEDRO PINTO, CNN SPORTS CORRESPONDENT: Every year, your numbers keep going up. Every year, Lionel Messi's numbers keep going up. I think you guys are like aliens, OK? I'll be honest with you. Like extraterrestrials, the numbers you guys have every year. How tired, though, are you of being compared with Messi every day?

CHRISTIAO RONALDO, WON 2012 LA LIGA WITH REAL MADRID: Well, sometimes it makes me tired. For him, too. Because they compare each other all the time, which is -- you cannot compare a Ferrari with a Porsche or -- you know? It's a different engine. You cannot compare.

We beat us on record, so it's amazing. And I think we push each other sometimes in a competition. This is why the competition is so high. This is why Madrid and Barcelona are the best teams in the world.

PINTO: So, are you better than him now this season?

RONALDO: Some people say I'm better, other people say it's him. But at the end of the day, they're going to decide who is the best player in the moment, which is -- I think it's me.



RIDDELL: There you go, he's the best player in the world according to him. A lot of people would agree.

MANN: OK, one last question for you, and I have been told to ask it, so I think there's something coming here. What do bees and baseball have in common?

RIDDELL: Usually not much. But in Colorado this week, plenty. This was just an incredible scene from the major league game between the Rockies and the Diamondbacks. At the top of the fifth inning, Jon, a swarm just invaded the stadium and parked itself right next to the Rockies' dugout. As you can see, the game was briefly held up.

Wouldn't have fancied being that camera man right there, would you? But no great drama. A bee keeper arrived from the next city and just hoovered them all up, and that was the end of that.

MANN: Amazing story. You'll see the bees, you'll see the baseball, you'll see more on the Champions League coming up on "World Sport" coming up in how long?

RIDDELL: Forty -- forty-five minutes-ish.

MANN: I did that to stump him. Don Riddell, thanks very much.

You're watching CONNECT THE WORLD. When we come back, we go behind the scenes with Trelise Cooper as she puts together her latest collection, inspired by her Fusion Journey to India.


MANN: Hello, I'm Jonathan Mann, you're watching CONNECT THE WORLD. Becky Anderson, as you know, is on assignment in Italy.

And we turn now to, well, maybe the most intriguing part of the program. In the last part of this week's Fusion Journey, fashion designer Trelise Cooper is back from Bollywood. Inspired by the dazzling array of colors and fabrics on the streets of Delhi, she's creating a new collection. We're sure to be in for a spicy delight. Have a look.




TRELISE COOPER, FASHION DESIGNER: Hi, I'm Trelise Cooper. I'm a fashion designer based in Auckland, New Zealand. My journey took me to India, a land of beauty and color and inspiration.

Delhi was exciting and chaotic and noisy and dusty and smoky and hot.

Can I open this one? How much is this per meter, please?

I love the color and the vibrancy that is India.

Two more packets please.

I love the saris. I love the beading and all of the embellishment.

Morning everyone! Hi, guys, how are you all?




UNIDENTIFIED MALE: How was the trip?

COOPER: Oh, fantastic.

My design studio is based in central Auckland in New Zealand.

Hi, how's it going?

I'm really glad to be back home because it means that I can put into work all the ideas racing around in my head. That fusion of ideas, inspiration, colors, fabrics, beading, I can now work with it and put it into actual ideas that will come out and be a garment.

And I've got some more things here that I picked up. Judith and I went to the markets in Delhi --

GROUP: Oh, wow.

COOPER: Yes. That was what I was trying to do, was pick up new techniques, things we haven't seen before. I really liked the way that the squares and the rounds, mesh and shiny, the texture's lovely, so I think that will be really great.

Yes, what I thought -- this would be a new way of putting beading on white, and I liked the way it's got the sort of unusual texture.

The main differences between Auckland and Delhi, from a fashion point of view, are things like these. These beautiful new directions of beading and embellishment. You don't find that in Auckland. You have to go offshore for that.


COOPER: It is cool, isn't it? It's a new -- a new technique.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I love the green.

COOPER: The trip to India influences the application in so many ways, but mostly it's the icing on the cake. It's the delight people.

A little more length through there and through here.

I just think this shape is really large. That's what's wrong with it, is that it's very linkable. And this is asymmetric.

The designing process is a long creative process. Anyone that's in the rag trade will tell you, it's challenging. One of the things that I loved about when I looked at the antique garment was it looked really grandiose. It was a beautiful color of aged gray.

The prototype is the garment made up from the ideas that we talked about in the showroom in India. We took this idea and we also changed it, and we had another vintage garment of our own. So, we've put this neckline onto the body of this garment.

To me at the moment, it's looking slightly bridal. I want this to be a day dress. What we will do is give it a very light antique so that it has that very aged and character look.

The real test for me is showing my collection. Here in makeup, we've got ten minutes. Is anybody ready to try a garment?

Can we get a pen now?

Go and take that off. Right, it's wrong.

I have worked for the last six months on this collection. It involved India, it involved going and finding people who could help me on the way.

I know I have finished the creative process when someone comes in and no matter what, they have to have it. This garment takes them on a journey, and my journey with this garment has finished.



MANN: To see more of Trelise Cooper's designs and read all about her journey, you can go to our website, There, you'll find more information on all the stars that took part in our Fusion Journey challenge and how the experience has influenced their lives and their work.

And what's on your mind? The team at CONNECT THE WORLD wants to hear from you,, have your say. And tweet us @CNNconnect. Your thoughts @CNNconnect.

I'm Jonathan Mann and this has been CONNECT THE WORLD, thanks for joining us. The world headlines are next after this short break.