GANGIRLS WITH TALENT: GIULIANA LEILA RAGGIANI
Giuliana Leila Raggiani
The young yet nostalgic mind behind Giu Giu knitwear
Hello giuliana, Can you tell us a little bit about yourself?
My name is Giuliana Leila Raggiani, the designer / creative director of giu giu. I’m 28 year old, living between Paris & Los Angeles.
Fashion / design world aside, I grew up as a ballet dancer, and now teach yoga and meditation. I love the sun, the smell of jasmine, and a nice Campari soda. My friends call me an onion, because there are many layers to me.
Growing up in the US within an Italian family, how was it like? How did it shape your story?
To be honest, I had a difficult time embracing it when I was younger, since I went to a pretty ‘normal’ American school. Kids would make fun of things like having a 'weird' (non-American) name, and showing up to lunch with carciofi ripieni alla siciliana leftovers, instead of the typical peanut-butter & jelly sandwich.
Once I started to mature and my career as a designer evolved, I really began to appreciate the cultural influence on my aesthetic, and my family lineage in the fashion industry. To this day, giu giu would not have been possible without the blessing of my Nonna, and the Vaccaro turtleneck label she started in the 60s with her brother (my Godfather) Gino, when they immigrated to Boston from Italy.
While creating, what are your major inspirations?
Traveling number one. Expanding my environment when designing a collection, gives me a fresh perspective. It could be one color that catches my eye on a trip, and from there the palette of the season is formed.
The energies of every city are all so different, so I try to capture the essence I feel. Keeping a sense of humor in my collections is also important to me. The world can be too serious, especially in the fashion industry, so bringing some light-heartedness makes things feel fresh.
How would you describe your brand vision and aesthetic?
Ageless, genderless, and sensitive. With a timelessness in the quality & attention to detail.
You seem to be having a long-lasting love story with knitwear, has it always been obvious?
Subconsciously it was always there I think, since I loved creating patterns, and putting different textures together, whether it was in the form of a painting or collaging. As a dancer, knitwear was key––– reconstructing my sweaters & layering for class. It gave me the flexibility with fabric to form with the movements of the body.
Knitwear didn’t become part of my work as a designer until I enrolled into Central Saint Martins in London. I was asked to choose between Menswear or Womenswear, and the only loophole I could find to this stressful decision was the option of knitwear. In that program I was able to explore this relationship of creating a textile from scratch, then deciding what form it would take as a garment. I loved that freedom.
Your work seems to be imbued with a lot of nostalgic feelings. Is nostalgia essential for you to create?
Nostalgia is another one of my main inspirations. I love those special moments of sense that can take you back in time, whether its a smell, a sound, a texture against your skin. I’m fascinated by the body, the mind and memory, so I try to explore this idea of nostalgia when I create.
I love asking people about their favorite outfit as a child. Hearing them talking about it, falling back in love with the way it felt on their body. That’s the feeling I try to replicate in my designs. It brings a feeling of familiarity. It makes you feel safe.
If you could create a Gang with 3 women you admire, who would they be?
Ah, tough one...I feel grateful to have a life overflowing with truly beautiful and admirable women.
For now, I think I’d have to say ~ my Nonna Palmira, Caroline McKenty (my former knitwear mentor / angel, & Queen of the Lower East Side), Carine Roitfeld.
What would be your 3 favorite pieces/designers from our store?
Base Range bleu cIel silk top & pant set
Kyoto Tango, the perfect friendship bracelets
Open House Projects YES ! ring. Mostly because I love Monika, the designer of this brilliant little gem.
Are you an earlybird?
I am! Sunrise is the most magical time of day. That quiet moment when no one is awake yet, and you can take time to center yourself before starting the day.
What would your Top 3 spots be in ...
The pacific ocean
my nest in Venice
early mornings at Palais Royale
0fr. Librairie Galerie
How did you discover Gang of Earlybirds?
My lovely copine Stella told me to check it out, then I met Fanny one day in my showroom in Paris.
my secret East River spot
PIPS Ping Pong / Art Gallery