Fashion

The art of empowerment

From prints and power suits to feminine tailoring, Marella is an Italian fashion force to be reckoned, we catch up with Paola Spreafico, the brand’s global communications director at the opening of the first Marella store in The Dubai Mall this summer
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Fashion is ingrained in Italian culture. From the runways of Milan to the production quality of Italian fabrics and the craftsmanship of the country’s legion of designers. Few, however, place 365-day wearability at the centre of their brand ethos. That’s where Marella steps in. The Italian fashion house was first set up in 1976, before becoming an independent company 12 years later. Fast forward to 2019, and the label now has outposts around the world with their most recent opening at The Dubai Mall last month. Something that has made the brand successful with women is the label’s acknowledgement of the practicalities of day-to-day life (their ART.365 capsule collection promises to be ‘crease-free’ for example) whilst also offering beautiful designs and fabrics for style-conscious consumers. “If I could describe the label in three words, it would be up-to-date, consistent and contemporary,” explains Paola Spreafico, the global communications director at Marella. “We’ve been interested in the Middle East for a long time, the Marella woman is fashion savvy and expects more from her designers, which fits so well with the market here. A key focus for us right now is the ART.365 capsule collection, which is made to be worn 365 days a year. Again this is something that fits particularly with the climate in the GCC.” The idea for a year-round flexible collection was first trialled by the label in 2014, and five years later it continues to be a success.“The concept is based on trans-seasonal pieces, with a refined design that is suitable for both day and evening. Crease-free and hand-washable, the mini collection offers an ideal solution for busy women who travel frequently and require a wardrobe that is stylish, practical and easy to care for,” explains Spreafico. As the name of the new collection suggests, another key focus of the collection is art. “Marella, as with all our labels in the Max Mara Group, holds art at the centre of our brand ethos and our collaborations with different artists has always been important. For F/W 2019 we decided to partner with the incredibly talented illustrator Liselotte Walkins. She designed two one-off patterns for the project, a black and white pattern as well as a colourful one with autumnal shades matching with the rest of the collection. There are also references to the iconic work of Futurist painter, sculptor and writer Fortunato De Pero in the collection,” Spreafico tells L’Officiel Arabia.

"Something that has made the brand successful with women is the label’s acknowledgement of the practicalities of day-to-day life (their ART.365 capsule collection promises to be ‘crease-free’ for example) whilst also offering beautiful designs and fabrics for style-conscious consumers."

An Italian attitude

The Marella F/W 2019 collection is “all about elegance, practicality and contemporary style for metropolitan life,” explains Spreafico. “It's meant for women who work who have an active life between family, work and their social life. Suits are a big part of our daywear looks in the collection and for Prince of Wales checks which feature throughout are a must-have pattern this season. Black is also back in a big way this season and Marella has paid special attention to this trend, developing a wide range of garments that go from short dresses to skinny pants. There is also a beautiful black coat in very light wool with leather pockets in our F/W 2019 collection,” she continues. Despite the functionality of the new Marella collection, the pieces are neither stiff not too traditional. Rather, the collection acknowledges the heterogeneity of female experience and reflects that through a diverse collection which ranges from soft shades, including white and pastel colours through to cocoa and nouveau bourgeois tailored fabrics. Short and oversized coats, single-breasted blazers, leather-effect minidresses, fluid pants and blouses all feature in the F/W 2019 collection.

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"Marella acknowledges the heterogeneity of female experience and reflects that through a diverse collection."

Supporting women around the world

 Core to the Marella brand is championing women from all walks of life. For the past three years, the label has partnered with SeeMe, a verified fairtrade organisation which works with Marella to sell jewellery which has been handmade by female survivors of violence in Tunisia and Mali. The organisation works with women from all walks of life, many of whom are single mothers and have been ostracised by their communities. The company was set up in 2013 by Caterina Occhio, who worked in the Middle East and North Africa as a UN development aid manager for 20 years before setting up the ambitious company. “The project is something at Marella we are really passionate about,” says Spreafico. “Rather than offering charity, the project helps to empower women by providing them with paid work and trains them in the art of jewellery making. The movement aims at replacing violence with love and the motto of the project is ‘not charity just work’ and spreads awareness online through #heartmovement on social media,” she continues. The hashtag also ties in with one of the key heart symbol designs in the women’s collection, which is available via the Marella website. Heart designs are part of the “#neveralone” collection and include two interlocking heart designs on silver cuffs, silver necklaces, silk cord bracelets and silk cord necklaces. There is also a series of cuffs engraved with empowering quotes, such as “life is a journey”, “we are #neveralone” and “life is freedom”. Indeed, with the support of Marella, the movement has started to garner global momentum, in 2016 the label’s Orange Heart design was also chosen to be the signatory piece for the 20th anniversary of the UN Trust Fund to End Violence Against Women, and was worn by Nicole Kidman to show support and awareness for the movement. Through acknowledging the need for year-round versatile fashion for women, as well as the importance of supporting women, and bringing awareness to issues affecting women in developing countries, Marella is no doubt the brand we need in 2019.

For more information, visit the new Marella store at The Dubai Mall, or visit Marella.com

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