Vogue Italia's Talent Marianna Cimini: Her Fashion Journey from Amalfi Coast to Milan
Fashion was already written in my destiny
Italian fashion designer Marianna Cimini is a perfect example of 100% made in Italy style. Vogue International Editor Suzy Menkes branded Marianna's collection after an introduction to her work at the July 2014 Who is on Next? Fashion award night.
Marianna remembers that night through photos. Glimpses of what lies in her fashion future are in pictures with Anna Wintour and Sara Maino Sozzani. This journey starts in southern Italy in the home of the Cimini Family.
The young Marianna
"Mine is a traditional family from the south of Italy. I am the oldest of three children, all with different characters, even my parents. One of the Cimini family trademarks is the playful irony in dealing with things. For better or for worse, we have to deal with them. Our family has passionate discussions, but we have a lot of fun too. My years growing up in the Amalfi Coast have never been boring—always lively and happy. I'm lucky. My father still keeps some of my drawings of when I was a child. I believe that perhaps unknowingly, fashion was already written in my destiny."
Becoming a fashion designer
"After high school, I had no doubts. I decided to continue my studies in a fashion school. I moved to Milan, the city where my journey started and where I'm now living, and my brand has its headquarters. The beginning of the school for fashion designers was not at all simple. I had a classical education studying Literature, Latin, Greek, philosophy—the new classes seemed almost bizarre to me! But in a short time, the passion that dictated my choice in that direction made me overcome the initial difficulties. I had more than one favourite subject. The research of fabrics and the History of Costume was amongst them."
The first award for fashion
"My first victory was at the Moda Italia Award competition way back in 2005. I was a young, shy student, but super excited. It was a significant victory for me because it allowed me to start working in the MaxMara group, a company where I learned what it means to work in fashion! That time my father was, after me, of course, the most excited. It was the first time he saw my work, his enthusiasm for the victory was overwhelming, irrepressible. My parents are a constant presence. For me, this is important."
Launching the Marianna Cimini Label
"After a few years of working in various fashion companies, I felt the need to realise ideas that gradually matured. To do it, I had to express myself through my line. I needed a brand that gave me the freedom to build that feminine image that became more and more defined in my mind.
I previously presented two capsules during Milan Fashion Week that attracted the attention of the press and the fashion industry. Deciding to launch my brand on the market was the real challenge, mainly because of the impact of the economic crisis. Passion, trust, and a bit of healthy unconsciousness helped me out.
In 2014 I was selected among the finalists of the WION competition organised by Vogue Italia and Altaroma, and I had the chance to show my brand for the first time. But there were no real support channels for emerging brands. The challenges we face do not end with catwalk lights. Instead, they increase and are daily. Costs are disproportionate compared to initial business volumes. We have to consider the problem of commercial distribution, which represents the great unknown for every emerging brand."
Marianna meets the Fashion Jury
"The launch of the brand took place with the fashion award night, Who's on Next, and that feeling of international resonance. When the first model appeared on the catwalk, I felt I was experiencing something unforgettable. The model wore a simplistic white trench coat tightened by a black ribbon, a garment that, in its essentiality, totally represented me. About those days, I still have the emotion of meeting with the jury.
I had the opportunity to show my idea of style to people that I admire in the world of fashion. I believe it is the dream of every fashion designer. When I see the photos with Anna Wintour and Sara Maino Sozzani, they remind me of my carousel of emotions. I felt agitation, insecurity, the fear of failure, and of having presented a collection perhaps too minimal compared to other competitors. Then I distinctly remember the immense happiness the following day in reading positive criticism, including that of Suzy Menkes who described my collection as 'a perfect example of 100% made in Italy style.'"
Balancing fashion art and business
"To work a fashion brand, we need to have the right mix of poetic creativity and farsightedness in the business world. These two components are essential in equal measure and must live in symbiosis without ever letting one overpower the other. I need to be creative and original, and follow trends without distorting personal style. I'm mindful of the demands of the various markets.
The greatest difficulty is direct contact with buyers. This process usually happens through showrooms. But those contacts are often not reliable, and with results, don't always bring in the sales. The world of fashion is also business, but no school prepares you for its challenges and risks, just experience does it.
I need to work with people I respect, admire, and trust to achieve my goals. However, the judgment that weighs the most is always that of my mother! I still present a preview of the new collections to her."
Marianna's Signature style
"To me, fashion is to give form and colour to an emotional perception capable of leaving its mark over time. My style aspires to be timeless: sober, practical but elegant, made of exceptional classic items; white shirts, coats, and blazers with an impeccable cut, high-waisted trousers, amongst other things. Often I love to personalise these garments with prints and details that have lightness and Mediterranean colours. I have always tried to maintain a personal and distinctive style in my collections because it is crucial to trace one's path."
The Marianna Cimini 2020 Collection
"The sales campaign for the Spring-Summer 2020 collection has not yet ended. I hope to add new customers who appreciate the collections. I'm already planning the next autumn-winter one. A few weeks ago, I also started teaching a fashion course at the Polytechnic University of Milan.
But I still have many projects to do! To the women's collection, I have plans to add a men's project. My goal is also to open a small, single-brand store on the Amalfi Coast. I am hoping to strengthen the USA and in the future, Australia's brand distribution. There is a lot of attention given to the phrase 'Made in Italy' in these parts. So I do hope to talk about some great news soon."
Advice to Emerging Designers
"The advice I could give to a young fashion designer is to work first, if possible, at a large company. Understand organisational rhythms hidden behind each creative process. Learn to identify your direction and then arm yourself with much enthusiasm, passion, and resilience! Look at other designers more as mentors than threats. Try not to fall into imitation."
On what we don't know about Marianna
"Those who follow my funny stories on Instagram know almost everything about me! My best friends sometimes try to hold me back, but they know that it's impossible! The irony is the weapon I use to mask my shyness, and it also smooth's the rigour and severity with which I measure and judge my work. I also believe in being thankful. Let me use this opportunity to do that.
I believe I have never publicly thanked all these people who are beside me. Every day they encourage me to believe in this crazy dream that is fashion, and so I take the opportunity to shout my THANKS TO ALL!"