Italian fashion design company
Founded: in Carpi, Italy, in 1977, by Anna Molinari, chief designer and artistic director, with husband Gianpaolo Tarabini. Company
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The stylistic concept of Anna Molinari is very simple: fantasy, passion, curiosity, fascination, and romanticism. It's easy to describe the typical Blumarine woman: one has only to look to Anna Molinari, her intelligence, vivacity, creativity, femininity and passion: a vibration between angel and femme fatale. Helmut Newton, one of the world's greatest fashion photographers, has perceived this essence and, guided by the modernity of Anna Molinari, has created a new concept of feminine power.
Blumarine collections are designed by the company's founder and owner, Anna Molinari. Based in Carpi in Italy, collections are shown seasonally, twice a year in Milan. Since its 1977 inception, the company has built up a steady international following that includes recent openings in the United Kingdom and the United States.
Blumarine collections are young, fun, and throwaway. Kitsch and naughty, sexy yet prudish, the clothes always represent an appealing
Fashion photographer Helmut Newton has created a strong image for Blumarine since he began styling and photographing the company's promotional material. Whether it's set in the seedy world of a back street hotel, complete with tacky 1970s decor, or on the shores of a trashy Mediterranean seaside resort, there are always strong sexual connotations in the imagery. Clothes are styled with revealing accessories—suspender belts, the spiked patent stilettos of the dominatrix, or dog collars as chokers. The poses of the models, particularly Nadja Auerman, who resembles an early 1980s Debbie Harry, tantalize. The images, Molinari's and Newton's, are always provocative.
Molinari likes to emphasize the female figure, which is often achieved by exaggerated feminine styles. Very popular is her tutu miniskirt, which features a tiny cinched waist that suddenly explodes into a full bell skirt, and layer upon layer of net and lace petticoats. The line also featured delicate black lace baby doll dresses cut dangerously short, laced bustiers, short, striped milkmaid dresses, tiny cardigans, and figure-hugging sweaters, always worn in a way to reveal a lacy bra top or satin-trimmed slip.
Popular fabrics have included lace, brocade, chiffon, and fake fur either as a trim or made into a figure-hugging jacket. Accessories are important—bo-peep caps worn with schoolgirl pigtails, large feather boas, or top hats. Ruffles often reoccur in collections, on shirts or as flounced cuffs and necklines. Color mixes are always refreshing and unexpected: ice blues mixed with burgundy, peach, and cream, or chocolate brown mixed with sky blue and tangerine; dominating, though, is black, always sexy and suggestive.
Blumarine has also explored many directional fashion themes in collections. For spring/summer 1995, Molinari exploited the most accurate depiction of that season's "disco diva" look, with short, pleated-on-the-knee pencil skirts in sherbet satin, combined with fitted jackets, good-time hot pants, and kitsch-print Lurex t-shirts. Other collections exploit what Anna Molinari believes to be the dual personality in every woman: coyness combined with passion, or the little girl combined with the temptress. The company has steadily increased its influence and is now recognized as one of the more directional, risk-taking fashion labels in the world, with showrooms in Milan, New York, and Paris, and a steadily increasing coterie of boutiques in Hong Kong, Milan, and London.
The company's courtship of the moneyed, under-30 buyer brought a sharp turnaround in both style and taste. The arrival of Molinari and Tarabini's daughter Rosella into the design studio in 1998 splashed an obviously youthful élan over the Blumarine high-fashion severity. Long past its days in knitwear, Blumarine's theatrical reds, purples, torrid pinks, and turquoises teamed with cigarette skirts in satin, leather, and crocodile and body-hugging suits collared in mink and topped with fox stoles and full-length fur. In March 1998, Molinari presented satin and pointelle slip dresses, fur-collar velvet coats, and sweater sets for fall, a nostalgic return to the sweater girls of the 1950s and 1960s with a touch of the flapper. For dress-up, she stressed beaded evening wear for a head-turning party entrance.
In her second season, designing daughter Rosella toned down her ebullience with less exhibitionism, more control of her gala florals, sequined slip dresses, tailored pantsuits, and polka dot organza with ruffled hems and poufy sleeves. Balancing a mother's boldness with mother-knows-best, Molinari designs drew West Coast fans to Heaven 27, Sofia Coppola's Los Angeles boutique which debuted in 1999. In consecutive spring showings, Blumarine kept up the pressure with flirty flair and a sprinkling of Rosella's heart prints, a come-hither for the youngest fashion follower.
New lines bolstered the house image for tarty chic with embroidered and jeweled mules for 2000. Fall/winter 2000 also sought past glow and sparkle with black frocks from the 1980s and dress-up attire in beads and sequins, embroidery, ethereal lace, and silks with daring slit skirts, scalloped hems, chiffon blouses, and touches of Swarovski crystal mesh, a motif that continued into 2001.
updated by Mary EllenSnodgrass