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Interviews | March 1, 2018

Antonio Marras

He is a fashion designer and an artist, but don’t try to pigeonhole him in one category. He comes from a happy island, Sardinia, and it is there that he has his workshop and studio. For him, glasses are travelling companions and he would like to go back to designing them

words Nadia Afragola

Who is Antonio Marras?

I ask myself the same question every day. I try not to bump into myself so as to avoid these questions. I think I have even lost my curiosity to know the answer, and I prefer to live day by day. I cannot make plans too far ahead, as everything changes in 24 hours. Antonio is someone who acts instinctively.

Why did you decide to dedicate your life to art and fashion?

I didn’t decide anything, to tell you the truth. I fell into fashion by chance and, as far as art is concerned, I don’t actually know what it is. I do things that arise from a need, requirement or an impulse that leads me to mess around, dabble, get dirty, mix things up and invade spaces and places. I always loved to go beyond the boundaries: in primary school, I always wrote outside the lines. I do not set limits, I overcome them, and I hate boundaries and walls.

SS 2018: you included an eccentric tribute to Fellini’s women in your collection.

I am not attracted by beautiful women, even though I recognise their beauty. I prefer women with character, with a different look, a flaw or a unique feature. Japanese emperors were given a cup with a defect, because its uniqueness resides in that very defect. Anita Ekberg was beautiful but Giulietta Masina was extraordinary. To look at her she was almost anonymous, yet she devoured everyone on set. She was true, alive and authentic, like her characters.

Did you think about having the fashion show elsewhere, in a less ‘peripheral’ fashion week than Milan, to hear the experts’ opinions?

I would like to compare our calendar with that of New York, so perhaps they would understand what peripheral means. No, I didn’t think about it. I love Milan. I feel very at home here, I’ve created a small universe and I find that the city is ever more beautiful, attentive and international. Thanks Milan.

You appointed your son, Efisio Rocco Marras, to the helm of the I’M Isola Marras label less than a year ago. What would happen if the student overtook the teacher?

I would be very happy, plus it would take very little to overcome the teacher in this case. He’s extraordinary. He is highly engaged, with many ideas that range from participation in Pitti Bimbo, to the bride capsule and the line dedicated to teenagers. I observe at a distance. I act respectfully and I only intervene when my opinion is requested. It’s only right that he should have to deal with the reality and difficulties involved our work. He is well armoured, so I’m happy.

Efisio owes a lot of his knowledge to you, and you were ‘initiated’ into the world of fashion by your own father. What is still left from those years?

I lost my father when I was very young. Too many things are still unresolved, and I bear them inside me. I remember our first trip together to Milan, to Fiorucci. He was the first to bring him to Sardinia, which was an incredible boom. The meeting with Elio (Fiorucci, ed) was my baptism. I knew I would have to continue my father’s work, but lung cancer took him away so early that I found myself unprepared to run a boutique, without knowing what to do. Although I started recklessly, I never backed down and the rest is history. Plus I always had Patrizia by my side, then as now.

Your beloved Sardinia is omnipresent in your stories, but where is it in your garments?

Sardinia is a small but great treasure chest. It is a place of traditions where craftsmanship still has importance and strength. We are talking about well-rooted crafts, which I continue to draw from. I like certain things, and I reshape and reposition them. I design the collections in Alghero. My roots are there and this is not synonymous with being static, as those roots give me the feeling that I could extend them anywhere.

Which glasses are on trend? What models do you prefer?

My preferred eyewear is Ray-Bans. At age 13, I was in Genoa staying with family friends and went to a back street in the historic centre to buy a couple of contraband pairs. I still have them. They didn’t suit me at all, but it didn’t matter. I was happy since I had made my small revolution. Years ago, I found myself designing an eyewear line with a vintage flavour that originate from those very Ray-Bans. I always wear glasses, they are my traveling companions. I love natural colours, I love the black frames, the colour of bone, horn, and then of course tortoiseshell greens and some beiges.

You presented your vintage eyewear range in 2010. How long will we have to wait until the next collection?

I’m waiting for a company that wants to produce my eyewear range. I think it’s time to do something more articulate and studied. I really like the idea. We’ll see.

What are ethics in your opinion?

They are part of the sphere of human behaviour. They should be applied in all sectors and be at the base of the actions carried out by people. Our sense of ethics is lost now, though. Just look at what is happening in the world.

What do you refuse to give up in your free time?

I do not know what free time is. I don’t have any but I would like to. I have one great enemy, namely boredom, and that’s why I always find something to do. I would never stop walking on the beach, to see my sea.

Are you happy?

Happiness lasts a moment, spans a very short space of existence and then other things take over immediately afterwards. I have only savoured it a few times in my life. My mother called me ‘never happy’, I think that’s enough to give you an idea. But it is nice to see that what I do has possibly succeeded in bringing about a bit of happiness. Sometimes I’m sorry that those around me have to put up with me.