As a fashion designer, Romeo Gigli’s designs in the 1980s and 90s were steeped in an artistic sensibility that intimately revealed his evolving influences. The son (and grandson) of an antiquarian book dealer and a contessa, Gigli brought to his clothes a cultured, nuanced expression of different artistic epochs heavily influenced by the refined milieu of his parents. At the peak of his fame in 1988 he said, “In my father’s library I saw all sorts of art, representations of women throughout history. I translate what I have seen for contemporary times.” His references were rarely literal, instead veering towards the emotional—rather than having a fabric printed with a painting or replicating the clothes in a portrait, Gigli instead worked to recreate the emotion brought forth by a piece of art: the somberness of abstract expressionism, the romantic vulnerability of a pre-Raphaelite beauty, the spiritual ecstasy of Byzantine mosaics.

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