For Sofia Sizzi, the Florence-born New York designer behind the new womenswear label Giulietta, the tales woven through her vintage-Italian inspired collections are as important as the clothes themselves. Sizzi, 34, believes that women envision themselves as a character in an elaborate story when trying on a new ensemble. And through her at once modern and romantic silk frocks, sophisticated separates and subtle prints, the designer hopes to create no shortage of fantasies. An industry veteran, Sizzi began her career at the age of 19 when she landed a job as an accessories designer at Gucci. She later moved to New York to work at Calvin Klein and Donna Karan. Sizzi explains, “I felt there was a void in the market and I felt confident about the Giulietta vision, which is nostalgic and influenced by the past. I felt like it was time for me to do it.” Designed in Sizzi’s Soho studio, Giulietta, now in its third season, fuses old-world femininity with modern sensibilities and an eco edge (the designer is a vegetarian; thus, everything from her tulle gowns to faux-patent accessories is vegan-friendly). “I believe you can make beautiful shoes and accessories without using animal products,” says the environmentally conscious Sizzi. Nominated for the prestigious Dorchester prize in 2011, the line is named for Sizzi’s mother, who came from a small town in Southern Italy. “I think this line is so related to [my mother’s] roots. I really liked the influence that this tiny town had on her way of dressing when she was a teenager. When I look back at pictures from that time, a lot of the girls were revealing without revealing too much. I thought they were so exquisite, so liberated,” says the designer.
This liberation comes through in Giulietta’s SS12 collection. Inspired by a 1968 Vogue shoot in which Veruschka wore geometric looks in an ethereal seaside setting, the collection is centered around the story of a modern woman who is transplanted into a Mediterranean village. Sizzi’s spring heroine begins her adventure in white and taupe midriff tops, cut-out tunics, and frocks infused with ’60s futurism.
As Sizzi’s protagonist explores this Italian paradise, her structured aesthetic evolves into looks crafted from delicate lace, perhaps picked up at a quaint village market, and fluid dresses in colors of the landscape, like cobalt, rust, and red. Sizzi’s antique Italian vision continues in her Trevano print which, named for 17th-century Italian architect Giovanni Battista Trevano, is inspired by Baroque cathedral ceilings. The motif trims the hems of maxi skirts, makes peasant pants pop, and adds a new dimension to easy tops and tunics. However, despite her leap to ready-to-wear, Sozzi has not abandoned her background in accessories—faux-patent platform sandals, as well as a jewelry collaboration with Thomas Bliven, the result of which was a range of ancient Grecian-inspired chains and medallions that drape down the torso, highlight her knack for refined adornment. “It was always my dream to do ready-to-wear. I’m very happy that I’ve done accessories, but I was always looking to express my vision in a more complete way.” Describing the Giulietta woman as “a nostalgic girl who’s very confident,” Sizzi notes that her customer isn’t someone who follows trends; rather, it’s a woman who wants quality pieces she can wear for a lifetime. Already hard at work on next season’s collection, Sizzi reveals that her new muse is Charlotte Rampling—an apt choice for the upcoming chapter in Giulietta’s timeless narrative. “My God, they haven’t invented another woman like her!” laughs Sozzi. And while it’s unlikely that Giulietta’s story will evolve into “Night Porter,” the subtle seduction of Sizzi’s strong yet girlish aesthetic will surely endure. After all, as Sizzi told us, it’s best not to reveal too much.