Few labels have as clearly defined an image as Marni. Everyone knows that the Marni girl is artsy and Italian, an eclectic vision of bohemian chic. A woman looks to the label for loose tunics rendered in fifties and sixties prints, quirky summer dresses, or capelets in dyed fur. It's all very charming, very just-pulled-from-Grandmother's closet. Funky but sweet, never too sexy, Marni is consistently popular. (And that's true among fashion editors, too: Go to a Marni show in Milan, and half the audience has turned up cheerfully wearing it.)
The line, appropriately, came about as something of a happy accident. It was 1994, and Consuelo Castiglioni wanted a side project to her husband's fur business, so she started turning out nontraditional coats that treated fur in a contemporary way, as a fabric: "Dyeing it, doing it without a lining, with just a little bit of string to close it," she explained to Vogue in 2007. Pretty soon, Castiglioni needed clothes to show beneath the furs—and clients fell for those, too.
Marni is not only trendy, it has evolved into a major trendsetter, spawning an endless number of imitators looking to copy its magical hodgepodge: gorgeous prints in clashing colors, comfortable but odd-fitting shapes, billowy tunics, sport leggings with clunky shoes.
Though the label now also appears on accessories, childrenswear, and menswear, it hasn't lost the highly personalized feeling. It's not uncommon to see celebrities like Maggie Gyllenhaal or the artist Cindy Sherman sifting through the store racks, despite the company's relative lack of advertising and disdain for courting them. "When I wear a Marni piece," Gyllenhaal has said, "it feels like it was made specifically for me."
Marni joined OTB Group in 2012.
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