State Of The Artist: An Interview With Our New Romantics Designer

Before I ever started working at Free People, the New Romantics label was always my favorite. The pretty shapes, dreamy fabrics and soft textures have always caught my attention and drawn me in. There are so many little and unique details within the designs that you’re left wondering the amount of genius that goes into creating something so special. Well, I can tell you, and it’s the kind of genius that has been designing at Free People for over 11 years. It’s the kind who is creatively equipped to produce garments that every girl wants to own and wear for a lifetime.

When not traveling the world in search of inspiration, our New Romantics Design Director, Gianna, is busy working to produce a line we all love here at Free People. Back in the summer when I wasn’t a full time employee yet, I remember getting the chance to sit in on a meeting where Gianna presented her initial designs for some of the pieces you see above. I remember sitting there and thinking, “Can I please have your skills? All of them?” I love the hand touches she puts into her designs that make them feel unique and timeless.

This month, our catalog features some beautiful pieces from the December line (shown above and below), and I thought it would be fun to have Gianna fill us in on some of the inspiration behind the collection and her history here at Free People.

chambray jacket

How did you find your way to Free People, and how long have you worked here?

I was studying fashion in Philly and came to learn that Free People’s design team was based in the same city. Instinctually, I knew that’s where I wanted to get my first design job. That was about 11 1/2 years ago! I started on the knits team working under one of the most brilliant and creative minds I have ever come to know – Doub Hanshaw, who is now our creative director. She showed me so much through her eyes (I could write an essay here) and taught me how to use mine in my own way. I always felt excited and inspired around Doub, Meg and the team, in my tender years growing with the brand…I knew of no other company who was supporting and trusting creative talent they way FP was and continues to do. I mean, directing New Romantics is a dream job…it just doesn’t exist anywhere else.

lens flare on dress

Above, FP New Romantics Doll Face Peasant Dress and the FP New Romantics Carried Away Coat.

Do you have a favorite piece from the December collection?

Definitely the French Chambray Tunic with lace insets. I’m hoping our FP babes will want an update in ikat plaid for fall. We just put that into work.

If you could only design with one fabric for the rest of your life, what would it be?

This is either my worst nightmare or a beautiful dream! I’m going to assume I have retired to a surf town so remote that the only cloth available is made of wild hand spun cotton.

girl in slip and flowers

Who is your biggest style icon?

My closest friends are my besties from design school and FP. I crush on them all…and a little Solange on the side.

If you ever are in a creative rut, what helps you break out of it?

I ask myself, “What would I want?” or “What would (insert best friend’s name here) think is cool?”

flower shadows on the hand

What Free People girl do you resonate with the most?

This changes seasonally…but I try to inject elements of 2 girls in one dress, top, etc…I think it’s more interesting that way.  My favorite combo is Lou/Meadow — you can see this a lot in the December collection.

moon child shot

Above, FP New Romantics Always Forever Tunic.

I hear you are in India right now working. Out of all the places you have traveled, which inspires you the most?

I have fallen in love with so many places, but India has held my heart the longest. Just when I think I’ve exhausted my resources, I find more gold than I actually need. On this trip we spent over 4 hours in a little 6×10 treasure trove, stacked to the ceiling with rare textiles. Dust was everywhere, Masala tea was our only fuel…design ideas are pouring into our brains as our eyeballs are being blown by amazingness, while simultaneously learning the stories about each piece and craft. It’s an exhilarating rush to the senses.

chambray shirt and white embroidery

Where do you see the future of the New Romantics label going?

I was lucky to visit our new store in Tokyo, and I was stoked to see so many of my favorite NR items. I wore our mirrored baseball jacket and got a lot of compliments by the Harujuku girls (and boys). It was amazing to be able to direct them to the store. I hope the future holds more moments like these for the label.

chambray shirt and red hat

Above, FP New Romantics Crazy Little Thing Top

Thank you so much Gianna, you are a world of inspiration!

new romantic pieces

Shop the rest of our December catalog here!

Follow FP Jana on Twitter

0 0 vote
Article Rating
Notify of
Newest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
10 years ago

SO much inspiration! She has a creative mind and a beautiful soul! Lovely!

xo, Juliette Laura

10 years ago

What an amazing job she has. I love reading behind the scenes interviews. I feel in love with the new romantics line too when I first discovered FP. Beautiful <3
xoxo Annejelina

Visit my shop:

10 years ago

Love this interview Jana! What a collection

7 years ago

She is just a genius amazing and one of the most naturally talented woman in Fashion today…..I am so impressed.

6 years ago