We love Marni for its funky, voluminous, and offbeat style. Down at Art Basel last week, we caught up with their Head of Special Projects, Carolina Castoglioni, to get a glimpse into Marni’s newest, mostly digital, ventures. Castoglioni also happens to be daughter of the founder and matriarch, Consuelo Castiglioni, who still designs for the brand. As she told us, garishly wonderful prints are no longer Marni’s final word: a fragrance will come wafting your way this spring, and the brand has also been working on a line of chairs crafted by Colombian ex-convicts, of course, as well as a collaboration with photographer/architect Francesco Jodice who photographed the chairs for an exhibition that premiered at Basel. Here is Carolina on her blog, Waffling, and how the nearly two decade-old brand is stretching its blue and yellow geometrically patterned wings straight into the future —Kimberly Corliss
How has your role evolved within the Marni brand?
I started in the retail department and was responsible for buying accessories for our stores. Then, in 2006, I participated in all aspects of the launch of Marni.com, and I continue to work on its development and evolution. This project was just the beginning of what our online store is today. Marni.com now includes experience areas for the visitors, such as our online magazine, Anticamera, and my blog, Waffling. I am also responsible for the Marni’s Special Projects, including the new Marni fragrance.
How has Marni.com helped to grow the brand?
It’s a workshop of ideas and is a tool used to communicate and express them. The website contributes to customers’ awareness of the brand and its presence. The clientele has a more direct connection with the brand. Through our online magazine Anticamera and my blog Waffling in particular, we wanted to provide an inside perspective and to take a more intimate approach.
How has the development of online/new media affected the fashion industry?
The communication is faster and more direct.
Tell me about your blog.
Waffling is thought out and designed as if it were my journal, narrating what happens at Marni.
Did you always want to work in fashion?
Yes, it was a natural evolution.
Does your personal style stray at all from the aesthetic of the brand?
The Marni collections have many pieces and ‘solutions’. They are created for a woman who likes to experiment with the different items and collections. I follow my own style and assemble the pieces accordingly.
Name your top 5 favorite wardrobe items.
Gloves, cape, hat, pochette, and masculine shoes.
“L’arte del Ritratto,” Marni’s first collection of furniture, opened at Art Basel. Tell us a little about the project, and how it fits in with the Marni aesthetic.
Actually, there are two different projects. One is the Marni Charity project, which is a set of limited edition chairs and not a furniture collection. The idea to create the chairs came from the Milan Furniture Fair, Salone del Mobile, where they were exhibited for the first time. For the jewelry collections, Marni is involved in Colombia. We made contacts there and came across a working group of ex-prisoners. Immediately, we were enthusiastic about the idea of working together and thus helping them to resettle into social and working life. We asked them to realize a series of typical local chairs, whose form, colors, and weaving were customized by Marni. The chairs were used as a background in a shoot in collaboration with Francesco Jodice. The photographer and artist made a series of portraits, called ‘L’Arte del Ritratto’, featuring all of the Marni teams. ‘L’Arte del Ritratto’ is an homage to them. I particularly like this project. It includes design, charity, and the collaboration with an artist, in this case Francesco Jodice.
How has the Marni aesthetic evolved since it launched in the ’90s? How is it continuing to evolve?
Marni is about refinement and details, prints and silhouettes; the design process is in continuous evolution.
How much creative input do you have when it comes to designing collections?
I do not design collections, but my mother does. I am the director of Marni.com and Marni’s special projects.
Marni recently collaborated with H&M. Are there any similar projects coming up in the future?
A big and different project is coming up: the first Marni fragrance will be launched in 2013.
Do you perceive a difference between American and European design?
Yes, one perceives the difference in style and in design.
Is it difficult to work alongside family members?
No, it is not difficult, as we are a very close family. Everyone has a role, but we constantly share ideas, inspirations.
What was your least favorite trend this year?
In general, I do not like tight dresses.
You had a baby this year! Does he get to wear Marni?
My son is still too young and the Marni Children collection is mostly for girls. But, I took some unisex pieces for him to wear.