Ethnic-inspired couture by Giorgio di Sant’ Angelo

photo-8_jpg_1316862156Giorgio di Sant’ Angelo, commonly known as Giorgio Sant’Angelo (1933–1989), was an American fashion designer whith Italian origins. He was known for creating ethnic-inspired looks early in his career, for which he won the prestigious American Coty Fashion Critic’s award in 1968 and in 1970.

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Sant’Angelo was born a in Florence, Italy, as the son of a Florentine count. He received a degree in architecture, then later studied industrial design & ceramics. He also studied with Picasso for six months, as the result of winning an international ceramics competition, sponsored by the French government. Picasso encouraged his student to “trust his own restless creativity and to keep on trying new artistic ventures,” and Sant’Angelo created an animated film cartoon and submitted it to Walt Disney. Impressed by the film’s inventiveness, Disney brought him to Hollywood and gave him an apprenticeship. But unable to speak English well, Sant’Angelo was lost in the vastness of Los Angeles and quit after 15 days.

Picasso encouraged his student to “trust his own restless creativity and to keep on trying new artistic ventures”

Sant’Angelo moved to New York City after his experience at Disney. He first worked as textile artist, and later as interior designer. For fun, he started making plastic jewelry. Diana Vreeland notised his works and hired him as a freelance stylist.

Sant’Angelo opened his own ready-to-wear business in 1966. He experimented with knits, and developed new fabrications with textile mills like DuPont.

Sant’Angelo cited various native & ethnic cultures as the inspiration for his collections, like the American Indian or the Bohemian Gypsy. He made couture pieces for celebrities & entertainers as well. Eventually, he started to license his name and expand into cheaper, more affordable clothing. The first line was called Sant’Angelo 4U2, which were less expensive versions of his fantasy pieces. Then there was the ‘Marjer Parts’ line, which was also more affordable, but more trend-influenced. Later, he dropped the ‘di’ from his last name & licensed out his name as Giorgio Sant’Angelo.

Sant’Angelo cited various native & ethnic cultures as the inspiration for his collections, like the American Indian or the Bohemian Gypsy.

In the mid-1980s, Sant’Angelo added the ‘di’ back to his last name & continued to design his high end signature line. Made almost entirely out of stretch knits, critics hailed it, confirming the return of his influence.

Sant’Angelo died in 1989, so his comeback was short-lived. But he has an influence on other designers and his legend continues in the minds of modern-day fashionistas, with  John Galliano & Marc Jacobs, who citing him as an influence. picHippieChic16-womans-dress-giorgio-di-sant-angelo

Giorgio di Sant' Angelo. Fall 1969

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