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Giorgio di Sant’Angelo at Phoenix Art Museum

Giorgio di Sant’Angelo was an Italian-born fashion designer whose three-decade long career is one of the most vibrant and exuberant moments in the history of American fashion design. Sant’Angelo is responsible for capturing hippie culture, with a feminine and progressive edge, and introducing it to the luxury fashion world. Rising to prominence in the late 60s, the designer took to the hippie movement and created high fashion based on Native American, Asian, Latin and gypsy influences. He integrated these abstract themes into the American scope, and his designs retained a stunning sense of modernity and sensuality. It was a vision that changed the course of American fashion and elevated it to a more complex and culturally relevant dimension.

Funnily enough, it was in Arizona, of all places, where Sant’Angelo’s career catapulted into the legacy it is today. That’s right- a deserted Arizona desert was the site of the famous eight-page editorial spread in the July 1968 issue of Vogue, which was to become arguably one of the magazine’s most legendary pieces of editorial work. The spread featured the iconic Veruschka, Sant’Angelo’s lifetime muse, and the brain behind the concept was none other than Diana Vreeland. They arrived at their remote location in the desert without a single stitch of clothing. Sant’Angelo simply brought with him a few yards of fabric and rope, and brilliantly executed a series of looks that would prove his extraordinary skill and mastery of silhouette. See the full spread here : The Vogue spread was a testament to this visionary mind, so it is quite fitting that the Phoenix Art Musuem is presenting a retrospective of Sant’Angelo’s work to reflect upon his influence on the industry.

The exhibition in the designer’s name is in the museum’s Ellman Fashion Design Gallery and features over forty looks and accessories from Sant’Angelo’s career from the late 60s to the early 90s. It will also include never-before-seen original runway footage, photographs, sketchbooks and interviews with the designer. The exhibition attempts to dissect Sant’Angelo’s creative process and pinpoint what it was about his work that seemed to capture the modern woman in changing times. He considered himself “not a fashion designer, but an artist who works in fashion,” and the Phoenix Art Museum’s exhibition honors his daring spirit and ingenuity.