Unique is a word I would use to describe Marni. The words bohemian, eclectic, avant-garde, modern, futuristic and chic also come to mind when I think of Marni.
Born designer are two words I would use to describe Marni Chief Designer, Consuelo Castiglioni. And born lucky are two more. Why? Because she has no training in fashion and yet Consuelo is always ahead of trends, making them – not following them. But how would I define Marni?
Marni was founded in 1994 and is named after Consuelo Castiglioni’s sister, Marni. Consuelo is also married to Gianni Castiglioni, Marni’s CEO. Marni is one of the few remaining family owned and operated fashion businesses. The Castiglioni family are manufacturers and suppliers of fur to the great fashion houses of Europe and so it comes as no surprise that the first collection Consuelo designed for Marni was a fur collection. Her clever designs and presenting it in a way that had not been seen before – non-traditional, easy to wear, “dyeing it, doing it without a lining, with just a little bit of string to close it,” she explained to Vogue in 2007, led to her designing a ready-to-wear line for the label.
Consuelo is known for designing quirky, feminine combinations of bright colors, bold graphic patterns, elaborate fantasy prints, and natural textures.
“I design what I like to wear myself. It’s how I started and how I continue to work. I do not have a muse, other than different elements that I like.” —Consuelo Castiglioni
The result is wearable and elegant clothing, but offbeat with a funky aesthetic that is ultimately a look that can be worn by women of a broad age spectrum – not something that many labels can claim.
Innovative technical fabrics and over-sized accessories feature prevalently as well as bright neons and crazy mixed-up prints. Consuelo’s signature shapes, tunics, belted sack dresses and cardigans and her quirky grandma magpie aesthetic rings true and is probably my favourite aspect of the label.
The Marni design aesthetic, according to their website is – “Precise attributes, eclectic style, especially researched, refined materials and a production quality that ensures garments maintain a tailored aspect. The whole infused with a creativity that makes Marni collections unique in the fashion landscape.” Using silks, cashmeres, fur and other couture fabrics, Consuelo conceptualises creations that cross the lines between avant-garde and couture clothing. Marni “prides itself on its Italian heritage” – its entire line is made in Italy, and does not have any licensees.
Marni also has a unique view of advertising, saving thousands of dollars by deciding not to use a static advertising image and preferring instead to leave it up to “the editors of the world to express their artistic versatility” and thereby gaining a broad range of editorial coverage in the world’s top fashion magazines. Very clever indeed.
So who is the Marni woman? What type of woman is she? I think she is a woman who knows herself very well, she is confident in her style and likes to dress for herself. She is eclectic, bohemian and of course, chic from top to toe. Marni has a a cheerful ethic, I feel happy just looking at Consuelo’s gorgeous designs.
The label also designs accessories, children’s-wear, menswear and rugs. Castiglioni has ultimately defined Marni as a house of unusual shapes and idiosyncratic prints that have a consummately wearable appeal. “When I wear a Marni piece, it feels like it was made specifically for me.”
At the Marni Spring ’09 show, Consuelo sent down the runway her usual suspects of colourful mixed prints, chunky platforms with knee-socks, signature bags and resin jewellery, reminding us that we don’t have to let the doom and gloom of the recession infiltrate our wardrobe.
Another interesting little tidbit about Marni is their stores. In tune with their image in movement, the architecture of their stores, designed by Sybarite of London, based on a high-tech concept modified and adapted to each location. Each store has its own colour theme, “thus ensuring the uniqueness of Marni stores across the planet”.
In just over a decade Marni has achieved cult fashion status with eclectic accessories and a cool quirky joi de vivre that has seen Marni become one of Milan’s hottest labels and has earned Consuelo Castiglioni a loyal following.
Thank you, Consuelo, for reminding us that fashion is fun.