Blumarine’s Seductive Charm

Anna Molinari’s feminine designs continue to blossom

Creative Director Anna Molinari, who co-founded the Italian brand, Blumarine, with her late husband Gianpaulo Tarabini in 1977, is a giant of the fashion world with a magnetic personality and a delicious sense of irony. Known as ‘the Queen of Roses’ for her signature love of the flower, today she heads up the Blufin empire, which produces garment ranges under a range of labels, and has over a thousand boutiques worldwide. In its early days, Helmut Newton famously immortalized the brand in a knockout advertising campaign that gripped the public’s imagination. He was followed by many other photographers, who snapped a succession of the world’s top models, such as Naomi Campbell, Cindy Crawford, Carla Bruni and Monica Bellucci, showing off Blumarine in memorable ways.

How did Blumarine start? 
My husband Gianpaolo Tarabini and I came up with the name ‘Blumarine’ in 1977, because it reflected our love of the sea. My greatest desire was to be considered a fashion innovator and to create a brand that mirrored my taste, feelings, style, and my way of being. I’m motivated by a desire to fulfil women’s need to feel beautiful in clothes that enhance their femininity—this is key to Blumarine’s growth. 

Tell us about the big moments—did anything in particular make you realize that you had made it? 
I still remember, with great emotion, the Best Designer of the Year prize in 1980 at Modit of Milan. At the time, I realized that this kind of consensus could be a major boost in achieving the goals I had set myself. 
Then in 2010 I was awarded the Cavaliere del Lavoro by the President of the Italian Republic, which honors a lifetime’s work—this recognition gives me enormous pride. 

What are the characteristics of the women who inspire your clothes? 
Freedom to be, freedom to experiment, freedom to choose. The Blumarine woman is feminine and at the same time dynamic and cosmopolitan, and she likes to seduce with irony, but that doesn’t mean she has abandoned romance and dreams. 

What muses or icons, past or present, inspire your work? 
Icons like Grace Kelly, Audrey Hepburn and Jackie Kennedy embodied elegance, charm and seduction, but it’s difficult to identify influential representatives of these attributes today. That said, over the years, supermodels such as Eva Herzigova, Linda Evangelista, Monica Bellucci and Carla Bruni, and actors Sharon Stone and Nicole Kidman, have all worn my creations: each has interpreted my clothes in a very personal way, which has been a source of inspiration for me. 

You have an obsession with flowers and the sea—elements that often shine through in your collections. Why? 
In today’s society it’s hard to find the kind of romance that I try to give my garments so that they enable women to rediscover their seductive femininity. Flowers possess this quality in their elegance, romantic charm and beautiful spectrum of colors—that’s why I love them. I try to reproduce this aesthetic balance when I design a dress. I love the sea because it reminds me of all the time I’ve spent in the seaside town of Forte dei Marmi in Tuscany, as well as the Blumarine ‘adventure’, which also started there. 

How did you manage to stay afloat during the economic crisis? How would you advise anyone struggling with their economic situation? 
For high-end fashion brands: invest in product research and aim for excellence in materials and workmanship; open stores in carefully selected cosmopolitan cities, including valuable emerging markets, and be very attentive to fashion trends; maintain your identity so that it reinforces the public perception of your brand philosophy. Remaining faithful to your identity and developing carefully targeted investments is the key to restoring confidence and market growth. We must offer a product that reflects the standards of authentic ‘Made in Italy’. 

What advice would you give to young people who want to pursue this career? 
Invest in education; gain experience in companies that provide the technical knowledge and contacts that will allow you to eventually pursue your professional goals. Always be receptive to change and never lose your ambition. Looking back on my early career, I’d have advised the young Anna Molinari to be more prudent and less instinctive—but maybe those were different times, not comparable with today. 

Give me three adjectives that characterize both you and Blumarine. 
Feminine, elegant and seductive—with a pinch of irony. 

Some of your red carpet dresses incorporate Swarovski crystals—what comes to mind when you think of crystals? 
Swarovski crystals sparkle and reflect the light like bright stars; they make outfits special and precious. I hope that the woman who wears Blumarine can feel beautiful and elegant, like a modern princess.


Text Erika Boldrin