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Designer to Watch: Marianna Cimini

Marianna Cimini

Marianna Cimini

Marianna Cimini is more than just a designer to watch, she's a designer to love. Her modernist take on boyfriend style and chic, yet wearable, pieces that are begging to be mixed and matched into any wardrobe are indicative of true talent. No industry newbie, she got her education at one of Europe's most well regarded design schools: Institutio Marangoni. As a student she won the prestigious "Moda Italia" prize, given to the most promising young design talent. 

After school, she began interning at Max Mara, and then designed for Tod's, cutting her teeth in the fashion trenches. In 2012, she debuted her first collection under her own label at Mercedes Benz Fashion Week in Milan to major kudos. She was a finalist in Vogue Italia's "Next Generation" competition. She was also selected to participate in the Muse for Vogue Talents competition that same year. If that isn't enough cred, just check out her Spring/Summer collection (below) and see for yourself. 

Marianna creates pops of color and silhouettes that truly stand out. She designs her own textiles and understands the importance of clothes you can actually wear rather than purely editorial pieces and looks, though somehow her clothes still give off an editorial, high-end feel. Oh, and did I mention she happens to be extremely cool. She's the kind of woman you hope to be when you grow up, as evidenced by her answers in our interview. She unabashedly leans on her mother for advice, she collabs with her brother, she believes passion is the key ingredient to any endeavor and she happens to be incredibly down to earth, in spite of having grown up in a place yearly tourists describe as heaven. 

theFashionSpot: Describe your aesthetic in general.

Marianna Cimini: In my mind, the idea of style, and more specifically my own aesthetic, is intrinsically connected with practicality and ease. That’s why I always try to mix the two elements, to create new proportions and silhouettes.

tFS: How and where do you find your inspiration?

MC: Inspiration comes to me like love, when you least expect it, sort of suddenly. That’s why it’s so important to have such strong motivation, determination and – most importantly – passion, which enables you to believe in yourself despite everything else.

tFS: Who is your ideal client? Do you already have a muse?

MC: To tell you the truth, my muse is…my mother! She is by far my most demanding client, and my most trusted critic. She is the one who always pushes me to go beyond my limits.

tFS: What do you think is missing from every woman’s closet today?

MC: The ease and the freedom to be themselves! Whenever I work on the next collection, I always think about versatility and practicality. I think it’s very important to always be able to mix every element of your closet, to adapt them to different situations, different bodies and different budgets.

tFS: Do you think women designers have a different approach than men when thinking about clothes?

MC: I really think so! Men design brilliant collections that – save a few exceptions – are very feminine but very “black and white” in their interpretation of a woman’s life. I think our added value is that we see – and we value – all the shades of colors in between, what makes life messy and special.

tFS: What was the motivation behind your price positioning? Made in Italy collections are usually super expensive, while you manage to stay in the Advanced Contemporary range.

MC: I really thought it was important to promote Made in Italy and the quality of our fabrics and manufacturing. Working in fashion, I definitely think it’s easier to outsource and find cheaper options, but I believe that – in the end – that is a shortcut that damages the final client. There are ways to produce Made in Italy at reasonable prices, we just have to be creative.

tFS: Technical details on fabrics and prints: what is important for you in a specific fabric and how do you decide which direction to take?

MC: I love working with the most beautiful, highest quality fabrics, but I have a predilection for natural fibers. I love cottons in every variation: from muslin, to jersey, to oxford, to heavier cottons with a lot of structure. It’s a very versatile fiber that is also very nimble and very modern. There are a number of fabrics, which I call “magazine fabrics,” that look amazing on editorials and ads, but that – in real life – feel a bit heavy, uncomfortable or even anachronistic.

In this collection, besides having used a variety of cotton choices, I also used a fantastic waterproof nylon. It’s shiny on one side and opaque on the other, and I love that it reminds of the way flowers look in the morning covered by mist.

The “tulip print” is a completely new undertaking for me! It’s an original print that I drew, wanting to give a bit more of a three-dimensional effect to the collection, to break the effect of colorblocking.

tFS: Construction of the garments: the importance of the sportswear approach and the infusion of a boyish aesthetic…how do you translate this in every piece of your collection?

MC: I love making clothes for “real life” and to do that, maintaining a sportswear approach is key. The sporty silhouettes are, though, always combined and filtered through a Mediterranean lens, to smooth over the most technical aspects of a garment and infuse a certain grace and elegance.

The boyish aesthetic is – paradoxically – the most feminine aspect of my collection! What is sexier than a woman dressed in a white boyfriend shirt?

tFS: You come from Amalfi, one of the most beautiful parts of Italy and, perhaps, the world. How does that influence your aesthetic and your creative process?

MC: Amalfi is a huge part of my DNA, so it permeates every single aspect of my creative process. I absorb and borrow everything from its beauty: the colors of the sky, the texture of the sea, the geometry of the architecture. Some other times, I just look at the black and white pictures of my grandmother, walking briskly through the Duomo, and I let them transport me to another era.

tFS: What part of your job do you like the most?

MC: Every season I feel like we “shed skin” and we turn into something completely new. I love that it’s never repetitive and that half of the journey is to discover new materials, new techniques and new proportions.

tFS: What is your favorite look of your Spring 2014 collection?

MC: Ah! It’s like asking a mother which one of her sons is her favorite! (smile)

I love how all the outerwear pieces fit, because it makes you feel like you really are inside the petals of a flower. I love the tulip print total look because it’s very new for me and I really got excited about my white cupro cape paired with the white corolla maxi skirt. I didn’t think it would work, but once I saw it on, I fell in love with it!

tFS: You work with you brother: what are your strengths and weaknesses and how do you relate to one another?

MC: Andrea is my reason! He is everything that I am not and I think that’s why working with him is so great. He studied finance and just graduated college…he was exactly what I needed! Our collaboration started off in a very awkward way: I was showing him a million different shades of blue fabric and he was tormenting me with Excel spreadsheets. It took a while but we finally found our balance and now I can say I couldn’t have a better collaborator. I am so grateful to have him, and to see that he shares my enthusiasm for this adventure!

tFS: If you weren’t a designer, what would you do?

MC: I would love to be a baker! Baking bread is a passion, so perhaps I could come up with cool “bread designs”?! 

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