Laura Biagiotti

Laura Snelgrove

Designer Biography

DOI: 10.5040/9781474260428-FPA039

Italian designer Laura Biagiotti was born into the fashion business in 1943, the daughter of Rome couturière Delia Soldaini Biagiotti. After studying literature and archaeology at university, Laura joined the family business in 1962. Her training had begun long before, on trips to Paris with Delia to witness the couture shows, as well as to New York to absorb the American sensibility.

Subsequent to leaving her mother’s firm in 1965, Laura and her future husband Gianni Cigna partnered in the inception of her own design practice, contracting work for Italian labels Schubert, Barocco, Heinz Riva, and others.

In 1972, Laura held her first independent show at Florence’s Pitti Palace under her new eponymous label, Laura Biagiotti Fashions. The collection showcased her modern approach to the working woman’s wardrobe, suggesting that individual pieces could transition from day to evening. Indeed, this invention was initially inadvertent; she showed a single white jacket paired with three different outfits simply because she had not made enough pieces.

Nevertheless, this concept of the seamless, interchangeable wardrobe became her signature and led many to equate her work with that of female design predecessors Jean Muir, Chanel, and Claire McCardell. Her clothes are meant to be seasonless and for all sizes, existing outside the fashion system while always looking current and comfortable. These values were epitomized by the “Bambola” dress, a tent or baby-doll shape, which she first presented in 1974 and became a staple of her line, presented season after season.

Biagiotti’s interest in clothing that is easy to wear and travels well drew her to knitted fabrics; she purchased the MacPherson cashmere mill in Pisa in 1974 and produced such a popular multicolored range of sweaters and dresses that she earned the nickname “the queen of cashmere.” Her knits are known for the luxurious quality of their textiles, their fine construction, and practical femininity.

In 1980, Biagiotti moved her design studio and production facility to a castle in the Roman countryside, which doubles as her home. There she continued to produce her brand’s growing number of lines, including the “Portrait” collection launched in 1980, the “Laurapiu” collection of 1987, and the menswear line Biagiotti Uomo, inaugurated in 1987. Her empire has also, at various times, included children’s wear (the Biagiotti Dolls line), costume jewelry, scarves and ties, beachwear, lingerie, furniture, linens, and ceramics. Her four core fragrances—Laura, Roma, Venezia, and Donna—have also seen international success.

Laura Biagiotti has received numerous awards, many of which recognize her contribution to the global reach of Italian design and manufacturing and her role as an Italian cultural ambassador. She has served as president of Italy’s Leonardo Committee, composed of prominent nationals in industry, art, and culture, and been awarded the Lifetime Achievement Award from the National Council of Italian Fashion, among other prestigious acknowledgments. Her daughter Lavinia Biagiotti Cigna has served as a vice president of the Biagiotti Group since 2005.

Laura Biagiotti, Spring/Summer 1999 Photograph by Niall McInerney, Fashion Photography Archive

References and Further Reading

Find in Library Benbow-Pfalzgraf Taryn, and Richard Martin , eds. Contemporary Fashion . 2nd edn. Detroit : St. James Press, 2002.

Find in Library Lee Morgan Ann, and Colin Naylor. Contemporary Designers . London : Macmillan, 1984.

Find in Library Mulassano Adriana. The Who’s Who of Italian Fashion . Florence : G. Spinelli, 1979.