Hailing from a highly artistic family, A. Christina Giannini was greatly inspired by her uncle, the famous composer Vittorio Giannini, who had a tremendous influence on her life. While she initially thought to become a sculptor, she fell deeply in love with theater and costume design during her time studying at the Buxton School in New Jersey. One of her earliest projects during this period was sewing flamingos for an “Alice in Wonderland” play. Subsequently, she joined Douglass College, a part of Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey, where she earned a Bachelor of Arts in 1959. Ms. Giannini went on to pursue postgraduate coursework at the Birmingham School of Art in England from 1959 to 1960 and completed an apprenticeship with the Zurich Opera House from 1963 to 1964.
In 1960, Ms. Giannini established Studio Giannini, a costume and set design studio where she has flourished for more than 60 years. Over the course of her career, she has created a wide range of costumes, props and set pieces for numerous ballet companies, on and off-Broadway productions and opera houses. Impressively, she was the first designer to use Lycra to design dance costumes and she has developed an esteemed reputation for her expertise in dyeing and painting materials. Her portfolio includes over 10 ballets with the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, five ballets with the Joffrey Ballet, and the Broadway productions “Me & Thee,” “Three Men on a Horse,” and “A Taste of Honey,” among others. Since 1995, Ms. Giannini has served as the resident designer for the Chautauqua Institution and currently gives lectures on costume design as well.
Attributing much of her success to the “magic of [her] collaborators,” Ms. Giannini collaborated for over 20 years with Jacqulyn Buglisi at the Buglisi Dance Theatre. She is also a founding member of the University of North Carolina School of the Arts, where she spent two years as a resident costume designer and an additional 10 affiliated in a freelance capacity. One of her most notable achievements came through eight years of collaboration with Vicente Nebrada at the Ballet Nacional de Caracas in Venezuela, which saw her awarded three Oscar Awards for Best Costume Design. In 2019, she was presented with a Lifetime Achievement Award by the Fini Festival. In order to keep abreast of developments in her field, Ms. Giannini maintains affiliation with the United Scenic Artists union.