On the eve of the new fashion season, we catch up with the ever-so-charming Antonio Berardi, the much respected fashion designer famed for hard-tailoring, a body-conscious silhouette and highly decorated finishings. British, but of Sicilian parentage, the designer shares childhood memories, talks about what it’s like to live in a marriage of cultures and reveals his fascination with religion.
If you could wake up anywhere in the world tomorrow, where would you be?
I’d love to wake up in one of the libraries in The Vatican museum ... so I could have a good look around. I am fascinated by the whole thing. They must have so much in there that people don’t know about and isn’t on show.
WHERE’S THE BEST SERVICE THAT YOU’VE EVER ENCOUNTERED?
I once stayed in the St Regis in Rome, arriving quite late at night. I was shown to my room by my own butler. It wasn’t just a room, more like a range of rooms – three bathrooms, two bedrooms; it was unbelievable, probably the most amazing room I have ever stayed in. The poor butler had to stand outside my door the whole time in case I needed anything. I felt bad about that.
YOU’RE SITTING DOWN TO THE PERFECT DINNER. WHERE ARE YOU, WHO ARE YOU WITH AND WHAT ARE YOU EATING?
It would have to be my parents’ hometown in Sicily. We would eat my aunt’s homemade ricotta, which she makes by salting it in the sun and drying it so it becomes hard enough to grate. She would add that to some really simple homemade passata made from home-grown tomatoes. At the table, I would, of course, love to have my nearest and dearest that are not with me anymore, a selection of my very closest friends and Sophia [Neophitou-Apostolou], my creative director. Then we would need some extra fun ... maybe [the actress] Noomi Rapace, whom I met recently – there is a terrifically bonkers side to her that would bring something to the table.
WHAT WAS YOUR FIRST EVER LUXURY PURCHASE?
I remember being nine and on holiday in Italy and buying myself an Armani jumper. I was the youngest child and had some extra pocket money. It was a dark-grey sweatshirt, with a leather trim. I thought it was amazing.
WHERE WOULD YOU BUILD YOUR DREAM HOUSE AND WHAT WOULD IT LOOK LIKE?
Honestly, if it were my dream house, there would be no corners from floor to ceiling, or wall to wall – because I am petrified of spiders. I grew up in a 16th-century house full of the things and I absolutely hate them. Apart from that, it would most definitely be in London, somewhere green and somewhere central, because I don’t drive. It would have to be very clean and white, although I am not so modernist that I don’t like antiques.
WHERE WOULD YOU GO ON YOUR DREAM HOLIDAY?
I have not been to Mexico yet; maybe it’s the whole Catholicism thing again, but I am fascinated by the place. Of course, India is always spectacular.
WHO ARE YOUR FAVOURITE FASHION DESIGNERS?
Azzedine Alaïa, Nicolas Ghesquière and, of course, John Galliano. He will come back; he is an amazing, kind and very gentle man who expresses himself through clothes – there isn’t a bad bone in his body.