Anyone who owns an original piece by Romeo Gigli holds it dear and probably still wears it, because although it was designed some twenty or perhaps thirty years ago, it is still perfectly modern and plausible.
And it is precisely this pure design, this timeless quality that makes Gigli quite unique in the history of Italian fashion, although everything that is produced under his label, which passed into other hands due to various corporate adversities, has nothing to do with him anymore since 2004.
A fact that is utterly unconceivable, and yet has not discouraged this cultured gentleman raised in the womb of an aristocratic family from Romagna in 1960s Italysurrounded by ancient books, music and tailor-made clothes, who became a fashion designer almost by accident turning a wealth of knowledge, travels and experiences into designs, visions and meaningful creations. Gigli entered the fashion hall of fame with his legendary 1988 fashion show in Paris, welcome by an endless standing ovation, and went on to play a leading role in one of the golden eras of Italian and international fashion with a free spirit and an innate candourthat allowed him to shrug off commercial restraints and swim against the current not to provoke, but simply to affirm his creative vision.
Today, Romeo Gigli continues to work, teach and collaborate with artists and musicians, as he has always done. Among his latest collaborations are the Eggseveningwear collection, created this year with Giordano Ollari, owner and buyer of multibrand 'O, and the costumes for the production of Mozart’s Don Giovanni with sets designed by Barnaba Fornasetti (2017).
Here's what he recently told us about his life, his work, and the fashion industry.
Raised in a family of antique booksellers, you studied architecture and only later took an interest in fashion. How has this complex and diverse education influenced your work?
RG: Until the age of 19, in addition to classical studies, I was educated to become an antiquarian bookseller. My father had an ancient book library that I consulted very often, having the opportunity to discover some truly extraordinary images from the 16th, 17thand 19thcentury. I then enrolled in architecture school but did not graduate due to death of my parents, which was a great shock. So I decided to start traveling and I did it for ten years, all around the world: Asia, South America, the Far East. Being a collector, I bought tons of handicrafts, costumes, materials, carpets and sculptures. I sent whole containers home, and this melting pot of things contributed to shaping my imagination.
Fashion is a combination of shapes and decorations. How did you manage to balance these two elements in your work and is there one that is more important to you than the other?
RG: Shapes are crucial. When I started designing my first collections, my main goal was finding shapes that were timeless. After so many years - my first collection dates back to 1983 - people sometimes still stops me along the street to tell me that they have kept my clothes because they are still perfect and contemporary.