Marni - Marni mania

Marni Children has launched a cult collection for girls aged two to twelve, and something tells us it’s going to sell like hotcakes.

Consuelo Castglioni – the heart and soul of Marni design – has yet to design something that isn’t an instant success. And that comes from someone who headed to H & M the day after her collection launched – only to find the shelves empty. 

The name itself conjures up images of prints and colours with vintage vibes, contrasts that on second glance actually complement each other to perfection, the kind of clothes that retain the ageless elegance and charm that the yummy mummies of the 1950s or even earlier, were famous for. This, and many other reasons besides, explains the cult status that Marni has acquired. That mania will rocket to even greater dimensions now that the label has added a children’s wear range for girls aged two to twelve, a quirky collection of timeless clothes, which debuted in January at the international children’s wear exhibition Pitti Immagine Bimbo in Florence. Each piece unveiled, from the wool, tweed and velvet coats, boyish sheepskin coats and puffy jackets to sweatshirts, soft dresses, tops and skirts kept lively with mini-ruffles and pleats, received a very warm reception. In other words, in true Marni mix and match style. The range features Marni’s own prints and patterns, the iconic white and blue or white and red stripes, the signature flower, diamond and star prints in contrasting colours. 

But Marni is more than just details, it’s essentially a “whole lifestyle look”, as recently defined by an Italian daily newspaper. This applies to both the adult range and the new children’s wear collection which, in the same unmistakeable way, is just as personal, colourful and eclectic as its parent, not to mention ever-so-slightly retro. Both are about understated, subtle elegance that is more word of mouth than in-your-face. Marni embodies the understatement chic of Milanese fashion made in Italy, reinterpreting and preserving ancient family traditions. The label’s success can be traced to the love and passion of the people behind it: Consuelo Castigliani, designer and heart and soul of the company, also reticent, resolute but very feisty, her husband Gianni who handles the financial side, and their two children Carolina and Giovanni. 

It’s a company that is run like clockwork, where the workload is accurately organised, tasks shared out equally, a place where style is interpreted, in Consuelo’s words, as “quiet elegance” and “narration, construction, tradition, culture and instinct”.

The defining features of Marni Children, the product of a collaboration with Spazio Sei, are the same as the parent collection: quality and design, exclusive distribution and single-label shop-in-shops in leading department stores. The picture painted is of dainty, starry-eyed girls with a lively, street-wise look. Just like you imagine Consuelo, before she became one of the hottest and much-loved stylists of recent years.

Why and when did you get the idea to design clothes for girls? 
I started to think about it a few years ago, and I liked the idea of being able to transfer some ideas across to a children’s range. Originally, the plan was to design only add-on pieces to the women’s range, but demand was such that two seasons later, it has grown into a full-blow collection. 

How would you describe it? 
Playful, timeless and original: it’s a versatile collection for children. All of Marni’s iconic pieces are there to create a comfortable, no fuss wardrobe.  

What are the extra things you have to think about when designing clothes for a younger audience?
I was very clear that I wanted to keep their identity as young girls, and not dress them like mini adults. Then there’s the fit obviously and the materials, which we designed exclusively with children in mind. 

What do the women and girls collections have in common, and where do they differ? 
I used the fabrics and models from the women’s range that seemed best suited to children’s clothes, but made the sizes a bit “roomier”. 

What markets are you targeting? 
Asia Pacific and Japan in particular for the spring/summer collection, and also Europe for autumn/winter.

Do you have any special clothes memories from your childhood? 
My mum’s wardrobe. I used to get lost in there. 

How did you dress? 
I was very clear about what I liked, and that was stripes.

Did you have a favourite toy? 
A board that I could etch black lines on, then shake it to rub them out.

Any fond memories? 
Pony trekking in the Engadine.

Do you have the job you dreamed of as a child? 
I had many dreams as a child, but there’s no way I could have imagined this. 


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