Brand Spotlight – Marni
Marni stands out as being exceptional in the world of luxury fashion brands.
With its, one-of-a-kind silhouettes, striking prints, and daring concepts, Marni has earned a reputation for its fearless approach to design.
The brand’s founder, Consuelo Castiglioni, was determined to create fashion that challenged the status quo, and her vision has certainly paid off.
From its origins as a family-run, small business to its place today as a globally recognized name, Marni has overcome countless obstacles to become the powerhouse it is today.
In 1994, Castiglioni and her business partner and husband Gianni Castiglioni established Marni in Milan, naming it after the nickname of Gianni’s sister Marina.
The label was initially started as a subsidiary venture of Ciwifurs, the Castiglioni family’s fur business, founded in the 1950s.
Marni broke away from the organization in 1999, enabling the designer to create a more cutting-edge aesthetic. Marni’s collections still frequently include fur, but the company is better known for its unique prints, with a strong emphasis on hand-crafted details and luxurious fabrics. Castiglioni worked instinctively, without following trends, while also being aware of the demands of the market. The result is a collection that is simultaneously whimsical and sophisticated, with a strong emphasis on individuality and self-expression.
Castiglioni believes that confidence was more attractive than dressing in an overly sexualized way, seeing fashion as an efficient way for a person to convey their personality, and through her work, she intended to provide a range of possibilities for her customers to do just that. Taking inspiration from art, nature, and different cultures, she aimed to create designs for women who dressed for themselves rather than those that dressed for others.
Focusing her designs on comfort rather than over-sexualization, she created the flat, broad, and comfortable sandals she refers to as “fussbetts,” which have become a distinctive feature of her style. Her husband initially didn’t like the shoes but Castiglioni who had confidence in her vision refused to change the design and he eventually stopped arguing.
In 2002 Marni launched its men’s line, characterized by the juxtaposition of proportions and mismatched colors, which gave the wearer a personalized casual look, making Marni unique among luxury brand fashion houses. The line includes shirts, hooded pullovers, and shoes. When creating the men’s line Castiglioni was always aware of the sort of man, she was making the designs for. “The Marni Man” would be sensitive with a strong personality, someone who likes to experiment, someone who is eccentric but a grounded “normal” sort of eccentric.
In 2012 Marni launched a collection for H&M, featuring clothes and accessories for both women and men. The H&M line was an immediate success with crowds queuing up in the early hours of the morning in front of the Regent Street store in London. Items being sold included wooden-heeled sandals, a printed pyjama set, jewellery, and printed jackets and skirts.
In 2016 Castiglioni announced she was leaving Marni. She released a statement explaining she needed to focus on her personal life. She thanked her family for supporting her and allowing her to create a brand with a “precise and recognizable identity.” Francesco Risso replaced Castiglioni as the creative director of Marni.
Risso, a graduate of Polimoda Fashion School in Florence as well as the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York, had worked for many years in the fashion industry, notably being a protégé of Miuccia Prada. After taking control, Risso remade Marni’s image to fit his own designs, while still paying tribute to Castiglioni’s original vision. Risso’s designs tended to have a crafty, patchwork aesthetic, incorporating embroideries, darning, and exposed seams to give each piece of clothing the feel of an object with emotional, personal meaning and value.
Under the leadership of Risso, today Marni is one of the most interesting and truly original brands in the world of fashion. Thanks to the distinctive style that blends bold colors and shapes, and a playful approach to avant-garde, experimental designs, Marni still honors Castiglioni’s original vision of creating designs that were both functional and incredible to look at.