By  on December 1, 2006

MILAN — Kenzo designer Antonio Marras has chosen to live and work out of his hometown, Alghero, in Sardinia, an area filled with rugged cliffs and winding creeks that is far from the stereotypical Sardinian image of luxurious villas and jet-setting yachts.

So it was only natural Marras would celebrate the wild region in marking the 10th anniversary of his namesake collection. Photographer Yelena Yemchuck has taken pictures of the Alghero area, as well as a number of the designer's archival dresses. The photos are being exhibited in Turin at the city's main contemporary art museum, Fondazione Sandretto Re Baudengo. The exhibit opened Thursday and runs until Jan. 21 — coincidentally, Marras' birthday. He will be the first designer exhibited at the Fondazione, which will also present a book about Marras.

"It's my house, there's my family, the light, the colors, the smells — all my senses are working in Alghero," he said about his choice of living there. "I'm curious about the rest of the world, but I want to return, it's all about leaving in order to come back, going while staying."

Marras, however, clocks in some serious frequent flier miles, traveling between Alghero and Milan, where he shows his signature line; Paris, where he works with the Kenzo staff, and Bologna, where BVM, his minority shareholder, is based. "I'm attracted by opposites and places and people who are distant from me," the designer said.

BVM owner Mario Bandiera was the first to believe in Marras after he made his debut at Rome's couture shows in 1996, investing in the designer's label and taking him on to design the Trend Les Copains line in 1999. "Marras is pure creativity, and my first impression of him was of a raw stone, with an enormous potential," said Bandiera. "He is evolving constantly and is destined to reach the highest peaks." Marras stopped designing Trend Les Copains two years ago.

The designer recalled his early days trying to find a backer, after his years as a consultant for other fashion companies, describing the time as "my journeys of hope." "I was aware that my designs were difficult to produce, and that many thought I came from Mars, but I also believe that if you persist and have faith, you can make your dreams come true," said Marras.

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