Romeo Gigli

GIGLI’S TRIBUTE: Romeo Gigli was recognized on Wednesday in Milan by Brera’s prestigious Art Academy, which bestowed the Honoris Causa Diploma in communication and art teaching to the designer. Gigli also received the title of honorary member of the institution.

“Romeo Gigli, who made culture, books, traveling and kindness his own style, understands that many secrets challenge us and are hidden in mythical stories.…Gigli’s language morphed into clothes that wanted to reveal the most hidden secret: that of poetry,” stated the academy, which emphasized not only Gigli’s contribution as a designer of high fashion, but also his “ability to use the spiritual activity that created myths,” creating a “mythological vision of reality.” The academy also underscored the designer’s “tireless research [and] his ability to transform the light and history in fabrics, clothes and accessories,” his “great contribution to the enhancement of the Italian culture,” and how the designer “infused his passion for beauty, history and the journey in his work.”

The designer was born in 1949 in Castel Bolognese, near Ravenna, to a family of antique book sellers and studied architecture at university. Gigli launched his own brand in 1983 and conceived looks with architectural shapes combined with romantic, Renaissance touches, dashes of punk and ethnic inspirations that were all powerfully influential in the Eighties. The label has suffered through several changes of ownership, beginning with a bitter dispute in the early Nineties with former partners Carla Sozzani and Donato Maino. Gigli was left empty-handed after the now-defunct IT Holding, which owned the designer’s namesake brand, sold the Gigli business, in a complicated deal involving the separation of the company and the license for the brand, to the Luxembourg-based company Euroholding, Italian real estate company Immobiliare Esse and Mood Srl. It led to the designer being shouldered out of fashion in 2004, and his brand being produced without his creative input. For fall 2009, Gigli launched the short-lived Io Ipse Idem line, which was shuttered after financial backers pulled the plug, followed in 2010 by the XII XII XLIX par Romeo Gigli — the numerals stand for his birth date of Dec. 12, 1949 — in a partnership with Fuzzi, which was also a fleeting project. In 2012, Gigli made a comeback in a collaboration with influential retailer Joyce. In February last year, Gigli presented a collection designed for the Italian brand Eggs.

Other honorary members of the academy range from Giuseppe Garibaldi and Giuseppe Verdi to Dario Fo, Giorgio Strehler and Antonio Marras to name a few.