Antonio Berardi was born in 1968 in Grantham, UK. His father came to England from Sicily in the 50’s. Antonio grew up in Billingborough. At nine years old, he was saving his pocket money for Armani shirts with leather gussets on the shoulders.
A job assisting at John Galliano’s studio was a solid training ground while he tried to land a place on the fashion BA course at Central Saint Matins in London; he was finally accepted in 1990, after his third application. On leaving college, Berardi quickly rose of fame. There he graduated in 1993.
In 1994, he started his own label and showed his debut collection in 1995. His clear focus has often been misinterpreted as delusions of grandeur like when he commissioned a perfume and gave it as a present to the press at his graduate show. The clothes however, were strong enough to catch the eye of Angela Quaintrell, fashion buyer of Liberty. So his degree collection was bought by Liberty and A La Mode in London, Kylie Minogue modelled for his first official show and Philip Treacy and Monolo Blahnik designed accessories. His signature tailored leather trouser suits and sheer chiffon dresses, often embellished with crystals, punch work or hand-painted flowers, were shown at spectacular themed presentations.
By his fourth collection for Autumn-Winter 1997, Berardi had found a heavyweight Italian backer, Givuesse.
In 1998-99, he designed for the prestigious Italian house of Ruffo Research.
In 1999 he moved from the London catwalks to Milan. The following year, Exte appointed Berardi as their head designer, also becoming producers of his own collection. The partnership ended in Autumn 2001 and a new Italian backer, Gibo, stepped in to provide Berardi with financial security. So Berardi signed a 5 Year contract with Gibo, the prestigious Italian apparel manufacturer, in February 2002. It is controlled by Franco Penne.
In addition to all his other activities, Berardi took over the designing for Italian house Exte in mid-2001 and made his first collection for them for Spring/Summer 2002. His third collection for Exte, for Spring/Summer 2003 was presented at the Milan Fashion Week in September 2002. He presented a super-sexy all white and black collection, which was received very well. Berardi presented his own Spring/Summer 2003 collection in Milan in September 2002 which was very well received. A few days later Antonio presented his collection for Exte. During Milan Fashion Week in March 2003, Antonio Berardi presented his Fall/Winter 2003 collection. Berardi is a designer fascinated by technical achievement and his show stopping pieces – a coat decorated with dozens of tiny light bulbs that illuminate to form a crucifix – support his opinion that, in the pursuit of glamour, nothing is impossible.
Berardi credits many design influences to his Italian roots: hourglass figures are his preferred silhouette and he constantly references Catholic symbolism. Berardi's designs combine sensuality with fine tailoring, quality materials and attention to detail. He is known for sexy, provocative, highly feminine clothes which often incorporate elements of street style. Some critics say that his ideas are copies of Galliano's designs and he picked up more than inspiration while working with him. This doesn't faze him; he says "it is an honour to be compared to him".
Eva Mendes, Emily Mortimer,