Romeo (1949). Italian designer. When, during the 1980s, the entire fashion industry celebrated a strong woman with architectural silhouettes, an aggressive attitude, and large, reinforced shoulders like suits of armor, Gigli presented, with his intimate models, a concept of poetic and minimalist femininity that divided the world of fashion in two: on one side was the avant-garde press, which immediately understood the innovative content and the opening of a new approach; on the other side were those who remained very faithful to the idea of a woman who was showy and, in a term that was used at the time, aggressive. An unusual designer, Gigli was born in Castel Bolognese, near Ravenna, a province rich in history and culture. He was fed by the stimulation and fascination which he found in the very rich library of his parents, who were antiquarian bookdealers, and he was enriched by contacts with the different cultures that he came to know from up close during the long stays in the Orient which kept him away from Italy for ten years. Every return was full of memories: objects, clothes, and jewellery to give as gifts, all of which unconsciously fed his passion and stimulated his interests, bringing him very close to the field of fashion. In 1979, he was in New York, working as an assistant in the atelier of Dimitri, where he learned the techniques of construction which would be the basis for his redesign of the female figure, which he would recreate in new proportions. In 1983, he presented his first Collection, produced by Zamasport, and began his collaboration with Callaghan. His début caused a small cultural shock: jersey dresses knotted around the body, tiny jackets, narrow and contoured shoulders that extolled a fragile and seductive anatomy, intense and undefined colors. All these required a new vocabulary, and immediately attracted the attention of journalists and buyers. In just a few years, he became a point of reference for Italian fashion. His Collections were presented in an old, bare garage on Corso Como in Milan and became the most exclusive and sought-after event. Later, he presented his Collection in Paris, as part of the French week of prêt-à-porter. A 20-minute standing ovation admitted him to the Olympus of the great. His clothes, remaining faithful to his first silhouette, over time became more precious, exclusive, and rich in artistic, historical, and cultural references. His creations reflect epochs and ethnicities, landscapes and poems, filtered through his complex and romantic personality. He believes in lightness; his fabrics are worked in a three-dimensional technique which make them airy, transparent, reflective, and changeable. The shapes hug the hips, the breasts, and the shoulders, in a way that is sensual but not carnal. His Collections, inspired by Venetian glass, the Empress Theodora, tribal Africa, the galaxies in space, Russian icons, and teenagers à la Lewis Carroll, follow an original aesthetic path, never part of a trend or a style that is common to others. He remains a fashion outsider, busy on a continuous journey inside himself. Besides the Romeo Gigli lines for men and women, he also designs G Gigli for a younger public, in addition to several other products and accessories, including leather goods, eyewear, and a perfume. He also designs household accessories: handmade carpets for Christopher Farr, lamps and mirrors for Ycami, glasses for Pauly in Venice, and mosaics for Bisazza.
In Milan, in a former toy factory from the 1950s on via Fumagalli in the Navigli area, Gigli opens his new space, Pangea.
Plastic, futurist and very colored frames, metallic waves that support the lens: these are Gigli’s offerings for Romeo Gigli Eyewear, produced by Allison for 2001.
Until 2007, the Romeo Gigli and Gigli Collections, belonging to the group IT Holding, will be produced and distributed by Urbis Industrie Tombolini, the chief operating unit of Tombolini.
A multi-ethnic Collection in Paris for Gigli. For the Spring-Summer 2003 he is especially inspired by deserts, by the Maghreb but also by deserts in India and China, from the pointed hoods of African barracans to printed fabrics with patterns inspired by ancient Chinese motifs, and to the warm colors of India, such as red, orange, and maroon. There are long and thin silhouettes, very constructed, but also very airy: polyester tulles with ruches at the bottom of a jersey mini-skirt, open-work corsets resembling lace, long and rustling skirts in waxed silk. Unusual materials worked according to modern techniques, precious materials such as gems, cashmere as light as shatush with a copper heart, embroidery in melted metal applied when hot, open-worked lace in fused polyester, slave bracelets, polished silver rings, raw minerals, belts with engraved copper plates applied to the leather.
Some of the designer’s most representative creations are exhibited at the MOMU in Antwerp, the Fashion & Textile Museum in London, and the Fashion Institute of Technology and the Metropolitan Museum of Art, both in New York.
At the Fabrica del Vapore in Milan, the première of the new Gigli Uomo Collection for Spring-Summer 2004. In an underground atmosphere, as in a New York slum, an unconventional dandy is presented going against the mainstream, mixing different styles, cuts, and patterns. There are trousers tight at the ankles and striped with graffiti patterns, but also some that are flared with floral inlays, as well as khaki, red, and blue suits worn with patterned shirts and flowered ties in the style of the 1970s, and wide colored Bermuda shorts with mini Bomber jackets that fall to the waist. Gigli’s man is self-assured, determined and eclectic, a world traveler.
Luca Callegari is the new designer of the men’s Collection, which makes its début with the Spring-Summer presentations. He had 12 years working side-by-side with Gianni Versace, was a designer of the men’s Collections at Gianfranco Ferré (1998-99), worked at Anglomania on Vivienne Westwood men’s and women’s Collections (2000), and designed men’s and women’s Collections for Autumn-Winter 2002-03 at Just Cavalli.