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Thursday, July 16, 2009

FASHION ALERT: Whom You Know begins our Coverage of Krizia

Freedom of choice is one of the most important conquests of fashion today and, in this respect, Krizia must be considered a real forerunner, a standard bearer. Whom You Know is pleased to kick off our Krizia coverage.

In the name of freedom of choice her collections are always thoughtfully eclectic, they offer a range of suggestions which permit every woman to recognise something intended just for her and which suits her perfectly. "Every woman should dress as she wishes, since her clothes become a second skin", says Mariuccia Pinto Mandelli, the 'boss', creator and very soul of Krizia.

Here is a particularly adaptable fashion, keeping pace with life, with differing backgrounds, with culture in evolution; destined for active, dynamic, up to date women and offering them the possibility, sometimes, of indulging in nostalgia for the past re-worked in a modern key.

This eclecticism does not prevent her fashion ideas, varied and even contrasting, from always having an unmistakable touch, that certain elegance born of irony and a sense of humour. Unprejudiced, courageous and sometimes provocative without however ever seeming brazen is the true secret of the Krizia look: born of research which is avant-garde but never excessive: played along the fine line which divides opposite factors, it is always under tension and dependent on a balancing act which calls for the maximum concentration and effort.

This can also explain why Krizia's ideas are always so confident whilst displaying the utmost femininity and even a touch of flirtatiousness...Contrasting propositions as freedom of choise, the dialectic of opposites, as we said; and not as a devilish strategy but because of a natural tendency. Mariuccia's character is made up of contradictions which enable her to define clearly both sides of every question, to make and unmake, to want one thing but also its opposite, the useful and the useless, frivolity and seriousness; work undertaken as a team but also open to discussion where she arrives straight at the point she had decided upon from the very beginning, impetuous, sincere, generous and straightforward, unacquainted with the complicated ways of snobbishness and deceit, open to enthusiasm but also capable of indignation for all that doesn't function as it should and ready to fight to change things. Sometimes the contradictions annull each other as if striving to create fashion which is highly wearable exactly because it is avant-garde.

The name, the beginnings

The first time that Krizia (name taken from a dialogue by Plato on feminine vanity) presented her models at a public show was at the Samia in '57, with a series of appetising fruit-dresses in a giant photo-type print. Her first show in Florence, at Palazzo Pitti was in '64 with a fresh breakaway collection in black and white which earned the first-timer 'Critica della moda' prize, previously won only by the ultra famous Emilio Pucci. In Capri, in '71, she was awarded the 'Tiberio d'oro" prize for her brief shorts when everyone else was showing midi and maxi lengths, in a true spirit of contradiction, destined to be both taken up by haute couture and re-baptised "hot-pants" by fashion stores throughout the world.

Then again the contrary nature of this industrialist with the silhouette of a model which is Mariuccia Mandelli drove her to propose fashion which became increasingly perfectionist, highly-finished and sophisticated or, on the other hand, strictly essential and stark and often in a geometric design; the pleasure of bulky fabrics teamed with gossamer weight ones; precious materials cut sportily; tweed with angora and lace; a blazer over a swimsuit, a classical masculine jacket over a sculptured bra or a low-necked top; the newest technological colours alongside charming traditional versions; embroidery even on a moufloOutlines and points of reference

The outline is always extremely topical and sometimes a forerunner, born of research, creativity, planning and actual "design", nearly always based on clean-cut geometry but at the same time using many points of reference and with an extreme attention to detail and finish; using modern techniques plus up to date versions of techniques from the past; for the woman who has a passionate interest in that which surrounds her, from cultural to political and social ferment yet sometimes enjoys dressing as a light-hearted innocent when faced with the mysterious alternatives of a George Sand (1971) or a woman inspired by Klimt ('91/'92) ; acting the part of a Marilyn Monroe sex symbol (1972) that of an ice skater à la Max Klinger in the great days of Vienna (1980) Natasha in "War and Peace" ('89/'90), or Fellini's prelate, just like the unforgettable Anita Ekberg, in her fully buttoned curial dress. For the same reason and to avoid the monotony of a winter coat, substitutes were suggested such as an enormous shawl (1975) wrapped even around the head like Southern Italian women (as in the film "Il cammino della speranza"); a maxi shirt (a shirt-cloak) with an egg-shaped outline ('76/'77) or a duvet jacket ('77/'78), a maxi sweater in a fur stitch ('78/'79), a golden quilted jacket ('80/'81), a long Jenghis Kahn redingote ('81/'82), a swirl of vicuna frills ('82/'83) up to the undefineable shape of a cloud-cloak ('83/'84) or an outsize street jacket ('92/'93).

After the coat, why not re-invent the fur bringing it back into the grand game of fashion by working it with a lighter touch, adding roses ('79/'80) or transforming it into a multi-coloured floral border ('80/'81)

Krizia's zoo

Every collection by Krizia is born under the sign of a lucky animal. It all started as a game with an innocent little lamb followed after a while by a very domesticated cat (1974) and the following season by a somewhat wilder fox ('75), then a polar bear ('76/'77) in an aggressive crescendo up to fighting animals, the struggle between a hawk and a serpent (summer '76) on to tigers and cobras ('78/'79), monkeys and camels ('79), eagles and crocodiles ('79/'80), parrots and toucans ('80) up to the very famous and very imitated leopard's paw on the shoulder ('80); a brief period of paradoxical contrasts between amorous elephants, butterflies and doves to resume with the king of the forest ('81) and back to the cat and more (but pallid) alligators, bears ('83) and then there came Dalmatians ('84), Maltese falcons, Imperial eagles and dinosaurs, wolves ('86), roosters ('93) and pumas, the ever-present black panther imprisoned in a jungle together with his muse and inspirer (accused of being the victim of a mysterious "Aesop's complex") incapable of escaping from that which has become more than a habit - a custom - Krizia's zoo. The speckled theme is also a part of the animal inspiration, often present in her collections (in particular that of '86-'87 and '92-'93) and the theme of fake reptile skin, also recurrent recently in 1995.


The aspect regarding "quotations" is the more intellectualised, curious about everything and everybody which leads Krizia to embrace, assimilate and represent in her creations in rapid succession Schifano's stars and the lines of Kandinsky, Tatlin's spiral and Calder's mobiles, Itten's triangle and Rousseau's sunflowers, Piancentino's aeroplanes and Degas' dancers, Klimt's precious decorativism, Fontana's slits and the constructivism of Malevich, the theatre of Schlemmer and that of Depero, the masks of the Peking Opera and Bakst's odalisque and, whilst dealing with all of these, her prophet Magritte and his surrealism American protest posters and Proust, the sphinx women of Khnopff and the angelik creatures of Dante Gabriele Rossetti plus the surrealist teacups of Meret Oppenheim, Dick Tracy's strip cartoons and the orientalists, the freespeakers and Tamara de Lempicka, the Orient, the "Terracotta Warriors", and Marguerite Duras' teen-ager's literary and cinematographic souvenirs, small dandies like Bulwes Litton or subtle women chatting in an english garden like those of Ivy Compton Burnett's.


Apart from constant research into new materials (eelskin, bark, rubber, leopard and panther printed rabbit, cellophane velvet and so on) another recurrent and highly successful motif in Krizia's collections has been fine pleating: starting in '77/'78 with an accordion-rain coat followed by the brilliant white all-pleated linen body suit like a giant caterpillar (summer '79), then horizontal pleating, flower dresses, and pleated dresses as a butterfly, a snail, a calla, a heart or with ribbons, and fan-pleated shorts in the summer of 1982 and the splendid ached pleated effects similar to those atop the most famous skyscraper in Manhattan: the Chrysler Building. Krizia's pleated is never on the wane. Sometimes it comes back up-dated, rivisited, just like the copper-coloured evening dresses of the autumn-winter '94-'95 collection, or the other copper coloured dress ispired by Lalique's calla-vases, present at the exhibition "L'abito oltre la moda", at the Fortuny Museum , Venice (1991).

Created by a woman for other women, Krizia's fashion is never an end unto itself - whilst retaining an inimitable allure it does not, unlike other famous names, render its wearer identifiable as a cliché or a uniform. Precisely because the aim is to give that something extra to the wearer rather than to the creator, novelties are introduced only when they can become part of the game of seduction; the choise of a certain cut, a certain silhouette, a certain added detail or a certain fabric is only made if there is proof that a sizeable number of her numerous fans of all ages spread throughout the world, would find it flattering.


Founded in 1954 by Mariuccia Mandelli, Krizia has today a yearly business turnover of about 400 million dollars at wholesale.

The Licences are many and cover different products from fragrances to handbags, small leather goods, shoes, umbrellas, eyewear and sunglasses, scarves, ties, belts, costume jewellery, wines, champagne.

The Fashion Collections include Krizia, Krizia Maglia and Krizia Top which are produced and distributed directly and the ones realised by licensees: Krizia Poi, Poi by Krizia, Krizia Jeans, Per Te by Krizia (outsize), Krizia Uomo (classic, sportswear, knitwear, shirts), Krizia Underwear (men’s and women’s line), Active Per Te by Krizia (outsize sportswear) and the collections manufactured in Japan, K of Krizia and Evex by Krizia, Basic by Krizia, manufactured in China.

In Japan there are over 200 boutiques controlled directly by Sanyo Shokay who produces and distributes K of Krizia and Evex By Krizia.

Moreover there are 600 sales points managed by Sanki Shooji who imports and distributes all the Krizia lines.

Krizia boutiques have their flag-stores in: Milan - Rome - London - Paris – New York. Krizia is distributed in many markets – Europe, Russia, Japan, China, Korea – with important boutiques in Zurich- Hong Kong (3 ) –Jeddah - Dubai - Barbuda - Tokyo (11) - Osaka (6) - Fukuoka (2) - Sapporo (2) –Nagoya (2) – Kobe (2) – Kyoto.


1981 Biennale di Venezia

1982 “Intimate Architecture Contemporary Clothing Design” -MIT (Massachussetts Institute of Technology) - Boston

1982 “Conseguenze impreviste: art-fashion-design “- Prato Museum

1983-84 “Design in haute couture from 1940 to today” - Japan

1984 “The stylist and photographers” - Bologna

1984 “Il Genio Antipatico” - Rome

1986 “Anziehungskrafte Varieté de la Mode” - Munich

1988 “Moda Italia “- New York

1991 “L'abito oltre la moda” - Palazzo Fortuny - Venice

1992 “Sala Bianca: the birth of Italian Fashion”- Palazzo Strozzi - Florence

1993 “Sala Bianca: the birth of Italian Fashion” - -Museée des Arts et de la Mode-Paris

1994 “Fellini: i Costumi e le Mode” Pecci Museum of Contemporary Art- Prato

1994 “The Italian Metamorphosis” – Guggenheim Museum – New York
“30 anni di Vogue Italia” – Triennale – Milano

1995 “Krizia. A story” - Palazzo dell'Arte in Milan. The exhibition celebrates 40 years of Krizia fashion from her steps in '54 right up to the present.

1995 “Tra Moda e Design, linea infinita” at Triennale in Milan

1996 “L’arte della moda” – Museum Mimara - Zagabria

1999 “Krizia Exhibition” - Grey Art Gallery New York, Toronto DX Exchange

2001 “Krizia Moving Shapes” – Museum of Contemporay Art – Tokyo

2003 Fashion, Italian Style at Fit of New York

2004 Excess and Underground in ‘80’s – Leopalda Station of Florence


At number 21 Via Manin, a large grey door opens on to “Spazio Krizia” the multi-use theatre built in the ex carriage courtyard. It is a large multi-functional and multi-medial space capable of containing seven hundred people and extremely flexible, immediately transformable due to a well thought out system of intermediates floors, mobile platforms, commanded by a control centre, ascend and descend automatically, disappearing screens, silver shutters and curtains which black-out the space and have electric commands, 120 projector lights, video and film projectors and a top level sonorization and acoustic system.

Since 1985 Spazio Krizia has hosted not only all the Krizia collections but also a long series of events embracing the culture of other nations: writers, artists, designers and musicians in the hope of rendering the cultural life of city ore international. A platform open to modernity which Mariuccia Mandelli has personally offered to the city where she has worked and made her name. In this space Milanese have met famous names such as Michael Ende, Isabel Allende, Doris Lessing, David Leavitt, Arthur Miller, Ettore Sottsass, Boris Sipek, Ron Arad, Ingo Maurer, Tiziana Fabbricini, the Lebèque sisters……and many others.

We look forward to featuring the Fall Collection here at Whom You Know!

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