MILAN — In a unique collaboration, Marco Zanini is returning to fashion, working with Italian luxury footwear brand Santoni.
“I was looking for a project that would fit with my attitude now and this is almost made-to-measure for me,” said Zanini. “There are changes in the fashion scenario and I felt I wanted to do something smaller and more independent, yet more radical.”
Called “Santoni edited by Marco Zanini,” the collection for men and women will be unveiled in February during Milan Fashion Week. “This is a micro-collection; I feel the term ‘capsule’ is overused,” explained Zanini. “It is not a total look line.”
Spanning from jackets to knitwear and shoes, the idea is to develop the Santoni world, gradually encompassing additional categories, even furniture, Zanini said. As suggested by the name of the collection, he will curate the offer and “inject” his designs into the Santoni universe.
Giuseppe Santoni, the son of the house’s founder and the company’s chief executive officer, said he “never reasoned as a footwear manufacturer; I always saw the family brand as a quality project, thinking about desirable objects.” Santoni said he received from his father the gift of “love of beauty and excellence. It’s a philosophy – you feel it, you live it, but you can’t explain it.”
The entrepreneur ticked off Santoni’s collaborations over the years with luxury brands including IWC Schaffhausen, Mercedes AMG and Rubelli. “These were all unique and special products. With IWC we provided crocodile straps painted by hand for the watches six years ago,” he said.
“Giuseppe Santoni wants to bring the excellence beyond shoes and the new products should be seen as objects,” said Zanini. “The market is overcrowded, saturated, with a tsunami of infinite collections from so many brands, showrooms full of merchandise and revolving doors of creative directors, in an accelerated industry. We wanted to do something smaller, targeting a more attentive consumer who is a connoisseur. We don’t have the ambition to please everyone and this approach is more exciting.”
This is an “ambitious project,” he conceded. “It still wants to be relevant but with a small offer, we want to tickle attention as it’s more about quality than flash. A general fatigue with fashion lies behind the consumer’s desire to see less, but better products.” Zanini praised Santoni’s “integrity and product longevity.”
The collection will be presented twice a year, for spring/summer and fall/winter.
Santoni said he had always appreciated Zanini’s work over the years and, after a meeting through friends, the two started tossing ideas around and developing the project through the help of factories and Italian artisans, mainly in the Marche region, where the company is based. “I know these artisans really well, even for my own clothes and accessories. I rarely buy anything that is already made; I like the idea of personalizing garments,” said Santoni, adding that Zanini created unique fabrics and details for the collection.
Zanini was tapped as creative director of Schiaparelli in September 2013, a position he held for two years. He started his career in 1995 after graduating from the Accademia di Belle Arti di Brera, assisting Lawrence Steele and then joining Dolce & Gabbana. He went on to become head designer of Versace’s women’s ready-to-wear and Atelier collections, working with the Milan-based house for nine years. He moved to New York to serve as creative director for Halston, which was being relaunched by Harvey Weinstein. In 2008 Zanini came back to Europe as creative director of Rochas.
Santoni said he expects the company to close 2016 with sales of 80 million euros, or $84.6 million at current exchange rate, up 10 percent compared with 2015. Exports account for 80 percent of revenues, and the collection designed by Zanini will target the company’s main markets, first the U.S., then Europe and Japan. The line will be selectively distributed at wholesale as well as in the 40 Santoni stores.