Unsung Fashion Auteur Gets First Museum Tribute

The following article was featured on lifestyle blog www.bangstyle.com in November 2011.

Unsung Fashion Auteur Gets First Museum Tribute

The first museum retrospective honoring Giorgio di Sant’ Angelo is currently underway at the Phoenix Museum of Art. The exhibition, curated by Dennita Sewell, features pieces from the museum’s own collection as well as items on loan from the Texas Fashion Collection, UCLA archives and private collections. On display, patrons can see key wardrobe pieces from the designer’s collections from the 1960’s and 70’s, jumbo productions of his magazine spreads and a collection of his richly detailed scarves.


Sant’ Angelo, whose collections drew inspiration from Native American and Asian cultures and gypsy themes, was a master textile artist who worked with a bold palette. He is best known for expertly combining vivid textiles to create fascinating, highly sensual garments. He was also one of the few designers to effectively incorporate American Indian visuals into couture-type fashions.


An Italian-born count, Sant’ Angelo began his career in fashion as a jewelry designer and stylist. He collaborated with photographer Richard Avedon on an eye-catching cover of Vogue, styling model Twiggy with a daisy painted on her eye.

In 1967, Vogue editor, Diana Vreeland, dropped Sant’ Angelo, 60’s supermodel Veruschka and her photographer boyfriend Franco Rubartelli in Arizona’s Painted Desert with just bolts of fabric, ropes and basic accessories. The trio created a series of iconic photographs that would serve as a launch pad for Sant’ Angelo’s designs – he would release his first collection a year later. Sant’ Angelo would go on to win two Coty Awards and two Council of Fashion Designers of America honors.


As part of the tribute, the museum will show blaxploitation films Cleopatra Jones and Cleopatra Jones and the Casino of Gold for which Sant’ Angelo provided the wardrobe.

Also, in February, the museum will host a unique event featuring supermodel Pat Cleveland, who will share her experiences working with Sant’ Angelo. She is expected to discuss how it felt to model his clothing, his styling process during photoshoots and her own perspective on modeling during the tumultuous 60’s and 70’s.

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