MILAN — Giovanni Coffen Marcolin, founder of the Italian Marcolin eyewear firm, died Wednesday night in Belluno, Italy, at age 82, after a long illness.
Funeral services are to be held Saturday at 3 p.m. at the Parrocchia di San Vigilio in Vallesella di Cadore, Italy.
In 2011, the entrepreneur told WWD that he struck gold when he decided to experiment with product diversification and a brand new concept: gold laminated arms, which helped jumpstart the business he set up in 1961, in Domegge di Cadore. Until then, innovation mainly came on the frontal part of glasses and the arms were all in plastic.
Coffen Marcolin was only 16 in 1947 when he started working as a technician in an eyewear production laboratory. After 14 years, he decided to strike out on his own.
He gradually ventured from the production of components to sunglasses, as in the early Sixties, eyewear was mainly about ophthalmic glasses. He moved from working in the basement of his home to a manufacturing plant in nearby Vallesella di Cadore in 1967.
In 1968, Marcolin started selling in the U.S. and expanded in Europe in the Seventies. A joint venture in 1984 with Marchon Inc., a Calvin Klein licensee, allowed Marcolin to take a further leap forward, growing from 80 to 200 employees and reaching production of 1 million frames annually. The following year, the manufacturing plant moved to nearby Longarone, initiating the production of acetate frames.
In the Eighties, Coffen Marcolin’s sons Cirillo and Maurizio started working for the company, based in France and the U.S., respectively.
The founder’s passion for eyewear never waned, and the entrepreneur was known for regularly clocking in and out of his office overlooking the Dolomites in Longarone, Italy, even in his late years and until the sale of his company. He was also a skilled skier.
The firm went public in 1999, but was delisted following the acquisition by European private equity Pai Partners, which last December, through its indirectly controlled company Cristallo SpA, finalized the purchase of a majority stake in Marcolin for 207 million euros, or $273 million at average exchange rates.
Pai Partners currently controls 85 percent of the company, while the remaining shares are owned by brothers Diego and Andrea Della Valle, the Marcolin family and Antonio Abete.
Marcolin produces and distributes the eyewear collections of a number of international fashion labels, such as Tom Ford, Balenciaga, Montblanc, Roberto Cavalli, Tod’s, Swarovski, DSquared2, Diesel, 55DSL, Just Cavalli, Cover Girl, Kenneth Cole New York, Kenneth Cole Reaction and Timberland. The company also counts three house brands, including Marcolin, National and Web.
“Azzedine has been one of the biggest influences in my life. He has always been such a strong, loving, fatherly figure to me. I call him Papa. His designs are indescribably unique, they are pieces of art. He knew how to make the female form look its loveliest. I have so many memories of him; my favorite might be during my first show with him in Paris. He liked me and he wanted to help me get more work. He called all his friends at Kenzo and Comme des Garcons, and asked them to book me. They said, ‘But she can’t walk!’ And he said, ‘but she has such a great ass!' His friendship and support has been the great privilege of my career. I can't imagine life without him. Repose en paix mon Papa.” - @stephanieseymour tells @wwd. #wwdfashion (📷: @steveeichner) #alaia #azzedinealaia
Azzedine Alaïa, flanked by two of his closest friends, models Stephanie Seymour and Naomi Campbell.
He designed Seymour’s dress for her 1995 wedding to Peter Brant, and treated Campbell (who famously called him Papa), like a daughter. For more on the legendary designer, tap the link in bio. #wwdfashion #alaia #azzedinealaia
Azzedine Alaïa's “I-did-it-my-way” ethos stood out starkly at a time when brands are experimenting with consumer-facing fashion shows, coed formats and trans-seasonal collections – anything to perk up lackluster sales of ready-to-wear in an age of Insta-everything. “It’s not creation anymore. This becomes a purely industrial approach,” the late designer told WWD in an interview last year. “But anyway, the rhythm of collections is so stupid. It’s unsustainable. There are too many collections.” Read more about the iconic designer’s life and work on wwd.com, link in bio. #wwdfashion #azzedinealaia (📷: @WWD Archive, 1986) #alaia
Sneaker reselling app @goat’s latest exhibit, "The Greatest: New York," tells the story of New York's sneaker culture. To celebrate the exhibit, an intimate crowd gathered on Thursday night at the pop-up gallery space, located at Platform in Culver City, to hear guest speaker and illustrator @esymai talk about her own rise in streetwear and women in the business. "For me I'm just someone who is creative. I like to create things," said Chang. #wwdfashion
Azzedine Alaïa, one of the most iconic couturiers of the modern era whose body-con designs defined Eighties fashion, has died in Paris. The diminutive Tunisian-born designer, known for his structured knitted dresses with fitted waists and impeccably cut, figure-hugging second skin silhouettes was deeply admired by his peers, and counted supermodel Naomi Campbell - his adoptive daughter - among his inner circle, one of a gang of glamazons including Farida Khelfa, Carla Bruni and Stephanie Seymour who became ambassadors of his style. (📷: Alexandre Guirkinger) #wwdblast