The name behind Krizia is Mariuccia Mandelli, and in her own words, “(Italians) are the best, and our creativity is a source of richness, like oil in the Arab countries.” A powerhouse perfectionist, she turns up her nose at fashion as consumerism, and when designing always asks herself how (the clothes will be worn), when (for what occasion), and where (office, airplane, weekend retreat). If a design satisfies at least two of these requirements, it goes to production.
Krizia’s fan-pleated, broad-shouldered creations brought architectural grandeur to ’70s prêt-à-porter and presaged both ’80s power dressing and new romanticism. The press was called Mandelli “Crazy Krizia”, and her innovations included the 1971 very short shorts dubbed hot pants. Mandelli’s whimsical embellished sweaters (often bearing an animal theme) helped usher in an era of luxe sportswear. She was one of the first designers to explore all manner of licensing arrangements, including one for Krizia sparkling wine. She also remains one of the few women to have successfully designed for men. But Mandelli, whom Umberto Eco once described as someone who “invents the taste of her own public,” will forever be known for her metallized fabrics and experiments with pleats, which predated Japanese design and sometimes resembled dragon wings or even the Chrysler Building.
“The concept of glamour is so personal,” she says. “For some, it’s following the catwalks. For me, a person with glamour can make fashion glamorous. Novelty at all costs can lead to bad taste.”