Antonio Marras: Identity, Art and Fashion

Folklore and tradition is often considered disparate from the contemporary. Antonio Marras disproves this notion.

Sardinian craftsmen create handicrafts that give tourists a taste of local culture. Sardinia is known for its filigree work in gold, as well as for weaving intricate baskets, carpets and tapestries.

Products made of linen, such as those for the home and for clothing, of wood, such as carved furniture, are some examples of handicraft work. Metal work (wrought iron, ornate cutlery), as well as work that employs the use of textile and glass, are also common.

Sardinian Filigree work is just one example of the various crafts practices there.
Image Courtesy: Pinterest

Antonio Marras: The Traditional and the Avant Garde

When it comes to art, it is important to delineate between that which has its roots in the mythical, the local and the contemporary. It is often believed that these ‘origins’ and contexts are vastly different, but an amalgamation of the traditional and the avant garde is definitely a possibility. Designer Antonio Marras is testament to this notion.

Antonio Marras was born in Alghero, Sardinia. Ligazzio rubio (read thread) is the recurring theme in Marras’ work. Marras’ material consists mainly of local fabric, sourced within his homeland. In each of his creations, Sardinia, and the craftsmanship are valuable sources of inspiration.

Marras’ Creations Over Time:

In 1996, Marras conducted a haute couture show in Rome, and in 1999, he presented his first pret-a porter collection called ‘Hush …Hush, Sweet Charlotte’. The collection is a tribute to his love for cinema, as well as Bette Davis.

In 2003 he was invited by the French luxury goods group LVMH to be the artistic director of Kenzo, and this collaboration lasted until 2011. In 2005 he opened his first flagship store in Moscow, then another in Alghero. Milan is where Marras centrally operates from on the administrative level.

He works mainly in his big home studio workshop, where he creates handmade clothing and experiments with an array of fabrics. It was here that he created two of his fashion lines: Laboratorio and Serie Limitata . In 2007, he  launched the  ’I’M ISOLA MARRAS’ presented in the autumn-winter of 2008/2009.

Antonio Marras in his home workshop. Image Courtesy: Vanity Fair Italy

Marras’ Creative Ideology:

Marras is a nomad with roots. He travels the globe for work, but he creates and innovates using local influences. Sardinian artist Maria Lai is a major influence for Marras, and the two have forged a strong relationship over the years.

It is clear that local culture forms a major influence in Marras’ work. Traditional attire, and the textures of local fabrics all play an important role in his creations. The aesthetic curated by Marras over the years combines the ethos of art, fashion, poetry and theater.

According to Marras, artistic forms are seamless and lack boundaries.He thus considers himself a ‘craftsman-designer’. Critics often deem him as the most intellectual of Italian fashion designers, due to his unique approach to haute couture.

Photo collage: Drawings, art installations, Concept Store Antonio Marras in Milan (Clothing, Books, Arts and Flowers)

An anthology of Marras’ work is displayed at the Triennale of Milan, curated by Francesca Alfano Miglietti. The collection not only displays Marras’ work, but also gives viewers a flavour of his life, his influences, as well as his ability to ‘infect’ the various spheres of the art world.

The Local as an Indicator of Cultural Distinctness:

It is important to be aware of the value of handicrafts, since they form a part of the heritage of a cultural context. Combining the milieu of the local, the age-old and the new not only provides fresh perspectives, but also enables people to experience local culture in a new way. In a globalised world, a touch of the age-old that makes a culture distinct is thus, imperative.


Works Cited:

Antonio Marras Official Page. Web.

Instagram: Antonio Marras. Web.

Facebook: Nonostante Marras. Web.

Maria Lai Official Page :


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