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Antonio Berardi is a British fashion designer of Sicilian descent, known especially for his dresses. He currently shows his collection at London fashion week, but has shown at Milan and Paris in the past.
Berardi's parents were Sicilians who emigrated to Britain in the 1950s. He developed an interest in fashion at a young age. As a nine-year-old he saved his money for Armani shirts with leather gusset shoulders. After secondary (high) school he decided on a career in design and, after attending Lincoln College of Art and Design, applied to the fashion Bachelor of Arts program at Central Saint Martins College of Art and Design at the University of the Arts London. However, Berardi's application was rejected and he began working as an assistant to John Galliano shortly after. In 1990 he applied to Central Saint Martins for a third time and was accepted. He graduated from the college in 1993, and in 1994 created his graduate collection which caught the attention of Angela Quaintrell, a buyer for London fashion holding group Liberty. With financial backing from Liberty he produced his first fashion week collection in 1995, under his own eponymous label. Kylie Minogue was the show's main model, and accessories were designed by Manolo Blahnik and Philip Treacy. In 1998 Berardi also designed under Italian label Ruffo Research, while maintaining his own label. The following year he negotiated a partnership with Italian label Extè. He became the label's head designer, and Extè also produced his own line. Berardi left Extè in 2001, and since then his label has been backed by fashion group Gibo.
In 1994 the label “Antonio Berardi” was established and the first show was showed in 1995 in London. The degree collection of Antonio Berardi was bought by Liberty and A La Mode in London, Kylie Minogue modelled for the first official show and Philip Treacy and Monolo Blahnik designed the accessories.
Berardi is known for his "sensual, figure-hugging dresses" and a "striking, classical, dressed-up" style featuring "advanced fabrics and manufacturing techniques." He has named music, independent film, post-modern art, Catholic symbolism, Italian art and culture, urban street style, lingerie, and the female form as his design influences.
Berardi designed a coat illuminated with light bulbs that lit up to form a crucifix, shown at his autumn/winter 2003 collection in Milan. His design was commended for its technical and artistic achievement by the fashion press. Perhaps his most famous design was a trompe-l'œil corset dress in a black-and white color scheme, featuring lace detailing, worn by Gwyneth Paltrow in November 2008 at the premiere of the film Two Lovers. Berardi's dress was praised by fashion journalists for its "combination of the graphic monochromatic look and body-conscious silhouette" and was named "Dress of the Year" for 2009 by Harper's Bazaar magazine.
Berardi has become a popular designer among Hollywood celebrities. Jessica Alba, Lily Allen, Victoria Beckham, Kate Beckinsale, Beyoncé Knowles, Kim Cattrall, Monica Cruz, Bryce Dallas Howard, Fergie, Megan Fox, Anna Friel, Ashley Green, Blake Lively, Jennifer Lopez, Eva Mendes, Kylie Minogue, Julianne Moore, Gwyneth Paltrow, Sarah Jessica Parker, Rihanna, Amber Rose, Zoe Saldana, Kerry Washington, Naomi Watts, and Renée Zellweger have all worn Berardi designs. Berardi fashions have also been featured in Harper's Bazaar, Marie Claire, Vogue, Elle, InStyle, and Vanity Fair.