“I was sixteen, I left my family and I started to work alone. I get two tattoes on my wrists, one with a heart, the other with a rose, symbols of love, then I showed them to the handsome boy I was in love with. He thought I was crazy, but then he started to notice me and eventually fell love with me. Some months later I get pregnant, we married and founded our fashion brand, against my whole family. We started with 3 employers, now we’re more than 200″. Isn’t it a bit of a story? It could certainly be the prologue for a great romance. But it’s actually real life: the story of the fashion brand Blumarine and its incredible creative director, the so-called “lady of the roses”: Missis Anna Molinari.
Anna talked open-hearted about herself to the students of University La Sapienza di Roma at the last “I Professionisti della Moda” seminary, held on may 10th, showing the charisma and spreading energy she’s famous for. She indeed describes herself as pazzerella, “a bit crazy”: would you ever imagine that she’s got a whopping 15 tattoos???
Not only the couple of little she got at 16 to conquer her later husband and Blumarine’s co-founder Gianpaolo Tarabini, yet many others that make her the most tattooed among italian female fashion designers! I can’t avoid reporting the following funny anecdote which made everyone burst into laughter: “When my father Guido discovered my first tattoos, he started to run over me shouting ‘I’m going to kill you!’. I was 17 secretly expecting my daughter Rossella, so my mother Odette asked him to stop, he asked her why, and she told him ‘because she’s pregnant!’” Anyway, this tiny force of nature (she use to go up piles of magazines to take photos with other people) created and carried on a brand, Blumarine, followed by Blugirl, which has quickly reached and wisely held a considerable worldwide renown. Her family run a successful knitwear company where she had learnt the trade (before leaving them very young to create her own label and being considered by her father as the black sheep of the family); she started to create original decorated t-shirts that soon became recognizable and highly appreciated, and let her career begin. She was even asked by designers like Dolce&Gabbana to realize their t-shirts, and eventually exported her brand out of Italy. “Globalization is good for it gives you the opportunity to export your brand all over the world. The negative point is that you have to pay a lot of attention on distinguishing the product depending on the recipient country: Chinese women hate yellow and green, northern European prefer pastel shades, while Brazilian wear shocking colours. To be successful today you have to focus on the people you’re selling to, creating something you’d wear yourself. Never forget to be contemporary and ‘real’, always putting a personal touch on your creations. I’m called ‘the lady of the roses’ because I always add a pretty little rose detail on my clothes”. (Have you ever heard about Blumarine Rose Bag, the first one with tridimentional roses?)
So being practical yet original is the key for modern fashion. But there’s another ingredient regarding how to lead a company: “you must create a human relationship with all of your providers: I know each one of them by their name and I use to meet them very often. They know I’m always there, either to find a little mistake on a single item or, what counts more, to believe in them and work with them year after year”. Anna Molinari concludes: “We Italian big maisons such as Blumarine must support Italian craftmanship’s districts to let them live through crisis and low-cost hard competition. I work with Biella and Carpi, and I assure you Made in Italy’s quality is far higher than, say, Chinese. But the actual market isn’t easy at all, and it’s up to Italian fashion brands to help them giving work to them”.
I leave you with a beautiful Johnny Cash song, Rose of My Heart, to pay a homage to Anna Molinari and her lifelong love for her beloved husband. But don’t be taken in by appearances! Although she still talks about him very touched (he died tragicly in Africa in 2006), she never loses her bright smile and her funny pazzerella attitude. It’s a part of her, just like the pretty little roses on her clothes.