As much of an artist as he is a designer, Antonia Marras brings a multi-faceted aesthetic to his creations, a signature that has garnered him a legion of male and female fashion fans across Europe, Asia and the Middle East. Presenting his Resort 2018 collection at Arab Fashion Week, which was inspired by the fearlessness and independence of Scarlett O'Hara, Marras has also recently opened two flagship boutiques in City Walk, Dubai, a destination he admits, he is fascinated by. Bazaar sits down with Antonio and his team post-show to discuss the rise of modest wear and expanding his empire...
Antonio Marras with wife Patrizia Marras and son Efisio Marras
Harper's Bazaar Arabia: Welcome back to Dubai, Antonio, what do you love about this city?
Antonio Marras: "I'm very curious to know more about Dubai, it's a city built from the sand up and I wanted to get to know it better, it's such an international, multicultural place and the more time I spend here the more I love it."I have visited several times before but this is the first time I have opened a store here. I've always come here for work so I've seen it mostly through a work lens but I'm trying to understand it on a more personal level."
HBA: What other countries in the Middle East have you spent time in?
AM: "I've been to Kuwait a few times as we have a retail partner there, it's also a fascinating place with a lot of multicultural influences and deep history."
Tell us a bit about why you decided to participate in Arab Fashion Week...
"I was invited to participate, our store recently opened so I wanted to use the opportunity to immerse the Antonio Marras customer in more of our world. The store itself if very personal to me, walking into it feels like home and I was very involved in the creative process so it would feel like a direct connection to myself and the brand."
HBA: Arab Fashion Week focused more on 'Ready Couture,' what's your interpretation of this relatively new concept?
AM: "What we do actually fits very well with this new terminology, it's all about creating standout pieces."
HBA: Did you have to edit your collection for the region?
AM: "We did yes, the entire collection is much larger but we edited down to pieces that are representative of the collection and a whole but also targeted to the market here."
HBA: How would you describe your Middle Eastern client?
AM: "I wouldn't say I necessarily think about specific regions when I design, I'm inspired by women in general and always fascinated to see how my customers all over the world interpret Antonio Marras designs into their cultural wardobe needs. I love it when they take a piece of the collection and reinterpret into their own wardrobe. The Middle Eastern woman does that so well."
HBA: Would you ever create a capsule collection of modest wear just for the region?
AM: "I wouldn't necessarily create a collection just for that purpose, I prefer to pair things in a way that will make them more modest. At the show last night we took kaftans and scarves that are in our original line and styled the models in a way that made the look more covered."
HBA: What does 2017 hold for your brand?
AM: "Finishing the pre-collections for both men and women, which we are shooting in two weeks in Milan, are at the top of my list at the moment. For the rest of the year we will be mostly focusing on international collaborations and partnerships, including more retail outlets in the Arabic market and expanding our reach in South Korea, China and the US. Watch this space."
Learn more at antoniomarras.com