Antonio Berardi has been a visionary presence in the fashion world for so long that it's hard to believe that his 40thbirthday is several years away. Born in the UK in 1968 to Sicilian parents, he studied at the prestigious Central St. Martin's College of Art and Design in London while at the same time working as John Galliano's assistant. The collection he created in his final year as a student, 1994, created a professional sized splash, attracting the attention of London buyers, including Liberty and A La Mode. Berardi launched his first professional collection the next season. Antonio Berardi was also a quick learner, not only of the skills of the design trade and the techniques of clothing construction and manufacture, but also of the way to succeed in business. After his first foray into business with a backer in the early nineties, he quickly learned the importance of efficiency of manufacture and promptness of delivery. Soon, Berardi was determined to make his business independent so that his reputation would never depend on outside investors. Today, Antonio Berardi is one of the very few internationally influential designers operating a completely autonomous company.
Much of Berardi's original inspiration came from the collision of cultures he himself embodies—being a proper British Sicilian, equally comfortable in old school London Savile Row tailoring as well as the more colorful, offbeat and freewheeling clothing of Sicily, itself a collision of cultures. Berardi was influenced by his mother, whose impeccable ladylike style was a perfect reflection of her personal philosophy. For her clothing reflected her femininity, propriety, and sense of quality. Galliano was also a profound influence and mentor, demonstrating the value of intensity and being true to one's personal vision without compromise.
As a creative force Antonio Berardi doesn't have to go to extremes or go far afield to find artistic stimulation. He draws on his roots in English tradition and craftsmanship and on the warmth and expressiveness of Sicilian culture and fusion of traditions. He always has an eye on the streets, from London and Paris, to New York and Palermo. He is excited by music, post-modern art and independent film. He believes in inspiration and that "anything is possible," and when he comes upon an idea that excites him he believes he will find a way to make it work.
Berardi has an artist's appreciation of the female form and his customers find that his clothes collaborate with the body to enhance their natural curves. Clothing that appears simple on the hanger becomes rhythmically alive on the body. Berardi also has a natural feel for materials and instinctively grasps how new materials can be used to maximum effect, creating original shapes that extend the vocabulary of body language.
Antonio Berardi is a line of ready-to-wear and accessories created for impeccable, urbane women who prefer a striking, classical, dressed-up look, but who respond to advanced fabrics and manufacturing possibilities. Since 2005, Berardi has chosen to show his eponymous collection in Paris rather than Milan, as its personality is suited to the Parisian sensibility. Antonio Berardi is made by the venerable Gibo, who Berardi credits with much of his success, as their advanced technical expertise and creative industrial solutions have enabled him to create virtually without concern for what is possible.