Since his entry into the world of fashion almost 30 years ago, Antonio Marras has helmed both men’s and women’s labels, had an eight-year stint at Kenzo, and launched his own eponymous label – all of which has enabled him to master the art of mixing prints. After he opened his new boutique and restaurant at Citywalk earlier this year, we caught up with the Sardinian-based designer to find out a little more about him and his combined men’s and women’s spring/summer17 collection, which was inspired by Malick Sidibé’s photos of nightlife in Mali during the Fifties and Sixties.
Curiousity as a catalyst.
I’ve always been curious, – I have the soul of an investigator, explorer and traveller, therefore so my imagination has always been chaotically crowded. Since I was a boy, I have felt the need to draw, but it never occurred to me to draw sketch a collection. Growing up, my family owned a textile business,. I found the fabrics fascinating and loved looking through them and touching them. In the Eighties, a clothing manufacturer offered me the chance to design a collection, but I refused for two years! I didn’t know where to start and I was afraid to face the unknown. Finally, in 1987, I created my first real collection, ‘Piano, Piano, Dolce Carlotta’, which was a tribute to my passion for cinema and to Bette Davis’s heart-wrenching performance in Robert Aldrich’s movie, Hush…Hush, Sweet Charlotte.
The past shapes the present.
Working for other brands helped me to broaden my horizons. I’ve contaminated, connected and destroyed styles, deliberately creating chaos and showing it with order and harmony – –an element which that has become a signature in my work.
There’s no place like home.
Alghero in Sardinia is where I was lucky enough to be born and where I continue to live. It’s a charming island, at the centere of the Mediterranean;, with a special mix of languages, cultures, histories, traditions, customs and thoughts. It’s a cosy city, where the burnt glow of the sun dying behind Capo Caccia, the scent of myrtle and helichrysum, and the sea are all incomparably beautiful.
Malick Sidibé, Mali and spring/summer17.
I have always been fascinated by portraits that describe the story of a community and an era -– ones that depict traditions, stories, customs, ways of life, culture and knowledge.
I discovered Malick Sibidè’s photos of Mali in the Fifties and Sixties through a friend of mine that who knows him,. sShe showed me his work when we went to the Biennale in Bamako -– an event dedicated to African photography. What I love about Sibidè’s photos is the juxtaposition of black and white compared to African culture, which is full of colour. His photographs capture the joy, enthusiasm, friendship, family, parties, ceremonies, dance and energy of African living. These photos inspired my spring/summer17 collection’s outfits, resulting in flowing soft shapes, high waists, tight twirling bustiers and full voluminous skirts, with draped and pleated inserts made into knots, bows, ruffles and the flowing, soft shapes.
Same, same but different.
I’ve always wanted my menswear and womenswear collections to be cut from the same fabrics and presented together. The two universes are part of the same world and share the same passions, so why should we present them on two different stages? I believe a fashion show is a key moment, like a movie with a plot, characters and a soundtrack. My fashion shows display the Marras world through the ying and yang, male and female.
Women of style.
There is not a precise type of femininity I refer to in my work, but the women that inspire me are all strong, smart creative and independent. When I design, I dream of a free woman, who can express and realise her dreams and desires. The women who I am drawn to are Pina Bausch, Silvana Mangano, Isabelle Huppert and strong, proud Sardinian women.