MILAN — Marni unveiled a striking flagship on Via Montenapoleone during Salone del Mobile, reflecting creative director Francesco Risso’s unique vision and aesthetics and standing out on Milan’s tony shopping luxury street.
With this new store concept, Risso expressed his wish to further emphasize the location as a creative hub and the brand’s links to art. On the occasion of the furniture and design event, the three-level flagship hosted the site-specific installation by contemporary artist Shoplifter, who represented Iceland at the Venice Biennale in 2019. Standing on the second floor, the installation — only the first of a series — is described as an “incubator,” designed by The Wilson Brothers and Brinkworth with Risso. It resembles a small camper.
Carpeted floors in blue contrast with reflective walls clad in beveled silver mirror ceramic tiles. The rigor of square angles and tile-coated surfaces expands onto the ceilings, punctuated with LED-neon bars and silver spotlights. This creates an intriguing juxtaposition with the brand’s signature sinuous hanging rails and the vintage modular seating.
“I wanted the rails from Day One, they are a key Marni element and storied reference,” Risso said. “Marni’s stores were one of the reasons I was drawn to the brand in the first place.” Of the new store concept, he said it’s “more an evolution than a makeover. I wanted a space that would not be mainly commercial, just like the [founders] Castiglionis did in the ’90s. Stores should mirror the heart of the brand and the atelier.”
Risso joined Marni in 2016, unveiling his first collection for the brand’s fall 2017 season, and succeeding the label’s artistic director Consuelo Castiglioni. In 2015, OTB took full control of Marni, three years after acquiring a 61 percent stake in the Italian fashion company.
Risso, whose past experiences include the Prada Group and, previously, stints at Anna Molinari, Alessandro Dell’Acqua and Malo, has brought clashing prints, vibrant colors, deconstructed silhouettes, generous volumes and asymmetric cuts to Marni. The designer, who is also drawn to Surrealism, often injects naif or grungy vibes into the looks, which have a young and rebellious attitude.
Chief executive officer Barbara Calò said the company is looking at more expansive spaces to fully represent Risso’s designs for Marni. Coming up next is a new store in Shanghai.
There are around 80 Marni stores in the world and the executive said that 40 new units will gradually open in Asia, South Korea and the U.S. in the medium term. At the same time, pop-ups, also in resort towns, are increasingly relevant for the brand, too.
This spring, OTB opened a major retail development project in Shanghai’s JC Plaza mall, located on Nanjing Road.
The four street-front, two-floor stores will house labels Maison Margiela, Jil Sander, Marni and Amiri, and include exhibition spaces and interactive areas. (OTB has a minority stake in Los Angeles-based Amiri.)
Calò relies on extensive experience in retailing. She joined parent company OTB in 2016, was first global retail director of Marni, then named general manager of the brand in November 2019 and was promoted in December of the following year to the role of chief executive officer.
In the 2012-16 period, Calò was retail director at Giorgio Armani and Armani Collezioni. She built her career in brands ranging from Vertu and Escada to Jil Sander and Prada.
Calò also pointed to the “parallel life of the online channel,” seen as a tool to better serve the brand’s customers.
In 2021, Marni, with Diesel and Maison Margiela, owned by OTB, completely restyled their online stores, which led to a 6 percent increase in online direct sales on 2020 and 34 percent growth on 2019, also joining the Moon platform, which allows a complete and personalized digital shopping experience..