The bright and beautiful world of Giorgio di Sant’ Angelo at the Phoenix Art Museum

February 7, 2012

If you haven’t seen the Giorgio di Sant’ Angelo exhibit yet at the Phoenix Art Museum, it’s coming to a close this Thursday, February 12. This is the first-ever museum retrospective highlighting the extraordinary designs of this revolutionary American designer and it’s truly not to be missed !

Curated by Phoenix Art Museum’s Dennita Sewell, the exhibit spans di Sant’ Angelo’s work from the late 60′s through the early 90′s. His use of bright, vibrant colors in stretch fabrics was innovative and ground-breaking in the fashion world; his use of inner wear as outerwear re-defined the modern silhouette, emphasizing the form of the human body to reflect a new sensuality.  “The only silhouette for 1971 is the body,” he proclaimed.

“Sant’ Angelo was an artist with the exceptional ability to see beyond the established fashion norms, creating designs that were revolutionary in every sense – from the fabric, to the cut, to his interpretation of cultural influences.  His dynamic creativity defined him as a designer and his ingenious use of stretch fabrics went beyond high fashion to influence the look of mainstream clothing, ” says Dennita Sewell.

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The exhibit highlights the many cultural influences di Sant’ Angelo called on throughout his 30 year career, including Latin America, Native American Indian, Aztec, and Asian.

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You can appreciate the artistry of this designer’s work, even if you’re not a “fashion person.” Giorgio Di Sant Angelo was an artist himself, long before he was discovered by legendary fashion editor Diana Vreeland in the 60′s.

He was born in Florence, Italy and trained as an architect and industrial designer. He studied art, ceramics and sculpture in Spain and France, under Pablo Picasso among others.  In 1962, he was awarded an animation fellowship at Walt Disney Studios in California but soon relocated to New York City and began freelancing in a wide range of design areas including industrial, textile, interiors and jewelry.  His experimental Lucite jewelry and accessories caught the attention of Vogue editor Diana Vreeland who commissioned him to style and create works for fashion editorials.

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As you wander through the exhibit, you can clearly see the many influences di Sant’ Angelo encapsulated in his designs. One of my favorite sections was at the west end, where many of his beautiful graphic silk scarves hang.

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They’re works of art.

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There’s a lot more to this exhibit than I’m able to show you here; you’ll see numerous photos of fashion magazine spreads, including this very iconic image of Twiggy on Vogue.

di Sant' Angelo - Twiggy Vogue cover

In 1967, Sant’ Angelo collaborated with photographer Richard Avedon to create this image of Twiggy with a flower drawn on her eye; it ran on the cover of the July 1967 issue.

Also included are original sketch books, accessories and photos of many of the first American super-models that di Sant’ Angelo worked with, among them the legendary Pat Cleveland who made a personal appearance at the exhibit last week.

Pat Cleveland & Dennita Sewell at Phoenix Art Museum

Supermodel Pat Cleveland, left and Dennita Sewell, Phoenix Art Museum Exhibit Curator

The Giorgio di Sant’ Angelo exhibit is a visual feast and I don’t want you to feel sad that you missed it !

 

For more info, here’s the link to the exhibit at Phoenix Art Museum.org.

 

 

 

 

 

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