In the mid-70s, globally recognized fashion designer and entrepreneur Adrienne Vittadini would come to Sarasota to “recharge after the shows and the all-nighters.” It was a special place for the Coty Award-winning designer to escape the fast-paced world of fashion in New York and abroad.

What she found here, though, was more than a sleepy beach town.

Adrienne fell in love with the films, the European influences, and the bustling community of creatives at and around Ringling College.

“I admire the College. President Thompson has a great vision and the Board is wonderful,” she declares. “There is incredible momentum here. I feel connected to it.”

It was this connection that inspired Adrienne to donate over 800 books from her personal collection to the new Ringling College Alfred R. Goldstein Library. These valuable resources informed her projects over the decades, covering topics as varied as Miró, the 1920s, African basket weaving, and mosaic. “All of the arts relate,” she shares excitedly. “You just have to be inspired and you can find inspiration in so many diverse places.”

And she would know. In addition to her fashion empire, Adrienne works in architecture and real estate, developing properties both in Florida and in the Italian Alps.

She continues, “I hope, with this gift, I can help encourage students in every area of art and design to look deeper. That’s what it takes to succeed—a commitment to move beyond the superficial and do the necessary research.”

Well, this contribution will certainly help. After processing the books, the Library staff will introduce the Adrienne Vittadini collection later this year.

But her gift doesn’t end there. Adrienne has pledged more materials to come, which she hopes will spark new ideas and propel emerging creatives beyond their comfort zones.

“In the end, you have to put yourself out there and you have to show up,” she insists. “And that means doing the work.

When the train of opportunity comes through, you have to be there to meet it and get on for the ride.”

By Stephanie Lederer | Photo by Matthew Holler (Photography & Imaging, ’11)
Stephanie Lederer is the Editor of CONTXT magazine and the Editorial & Public Relations Manager for Ringling College.