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Artistic, elegant and original, the Italian label is the modern tastemaker’s go-to. The Style Report investigates its appeal.

Words by Georgina Lucas.

When Consuelo Castiglioni founded Marni in 1994, the label broke the Italian fashion mould. Its vivid palette, artistic prints and sculptural designs provided an antidote to the bodycon silhouettes, high glamour and sex appeal that dominated the scene in the 1980s and 1990s. Thanks to Castiglioni’s innate instinct for what women want to wear, Marni brought something entirely new.

Fast forward to today, and the label has achieved cult status, worn by tastemakers the world over. Simultaneously offbeat yet classic, the Marni aesthetic is entirely unique. Pattern, colour and over-sized silhouettes are label hallmarks. ‘I fell in love with the bright prints and whimsical volumes. It’s very quirky, very individualistic. It has an arty bent,’ says Wallpaper* magazine’s editor-at-large, JJ Martin, a long-time fan of the brand, whose collections for her own label, LA DoubleJ Editions, echo Marni’s colour and abstract motifs. ‘I think Marni is one of the few major luxury brands that isn’t overexposed – it still feels so exciting and directional,’ says New York-based stylist and consultant, Kate Foley. ‘It’s wonderfully artistic and optimistic, yet absolutely elegant and luxurious.’

The Marni woman defies definition – scenes outside the runway show in Milan illustrate the diverse appeal as women of every generation flock to observe the latest collection. The streets are awash with wild prints, exaggerated proportions and vibrant tones of the label’s distinct, yet perfectly considered palette, and unsurprisingly, Marni’s head-turning aesthetic is catnip to street-style hunters. Although the label does not court celebrity endorsement – and the collections are not designed for the red carpet – it has an army of fans. Candela Novembre, Gilda Ambrosio and Giorgia Tordini are among the Milanese style set devoted to the idiosyncratic aesthetic. Internationally, the label’s ambassadors are many. Legendary photographer Tommy Ton has spoken of his fascination with capturing the Marni woman and his Milan fashion week galleries are awash with recognisable pieces. Platform sandals worn with socks, over-sized totes and graphic jewellery are subtler cues that the wearer is a Marni devotee. ‘You need to have a strong personality to wear it,’ admits JJ Martin, and certainly there is a quiet confidence in the medley of women who follow the label’s every move.

British Vogue’s long-standing fashion director Lucinda Chambers has worked with Marni since its infancy and she often references the label’s instinctive approach to design, where intellectualism and cultural relevance bubble below the surface. Ultimately, the power of Marni is centred in relevance – pieces that continue to look fresh long after the season for which they were designed. As Kate Foley says, ‘When I buy a piece from Marni I feel like I’m investing in something that I’m going to love and wear for years to come – with Marni I never get bored of the pieces I buy.’


The Style Report
The Style Report