A Designer Inspired by Italy — and Scandinavia



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Profile in Style: Marco Zanini

CreditCourtesy of Marco Zanini


“I’m a very curious person by nature, and that has led me in some surprising directions,” the designer Marco Zanini says. Indeed, the 46-year-old has directed a wide range of fashion houses over the past decade, from his revival of the New York label Halston to the French brand Rochas and the Parisian couture house Schiaparelli. Born to a Swedish mother and an Italian father, the Milan native has an aesthetic that marries a Southern European passion for color and craftsmanship with a Scandinavian appreciation for efficiency and minimalism. His influences range from Japanese metro stations to old masters; his Instagram account (@mzmarcozanini) is an eclectic anthology of images of ’90s fashion, Brutalist architecture, scraps of vintage fabric, even children’s toys — all of which inform both his apartment in Milan and his designs for Santoni. The company had focused on handcrafted shoes since 1975, but since Zanini joined last year, it has debuted a micro-collection of men’s and women’s clothing and accessories (many of them unisex) for a sub-brand called Santoni Edited by Marco Zanini. “Lately, I’ve been very set on leaving out what’s unnecessary,” says Zanini, whose pared-down designs, such as a cashmere coat reinforced with hand-sewn goose down and a military cotton trench lined in raspberry and chestnut Japanese satin, exhibit couture-level craftsmanship. “I like things that take a little extra effort to get or to make.”

But though his influences may be diverse, Zanini never forgets where he came from. On his right forearm is a tattoo of an arrow inspired by a Robert Mapplethorpe sculpture he owns; on his left hand, the image of a wooden tall ship. “I had the tattoos done in both Stockholm and Milan in my 30s,” he says. “It wasn’t until then that I realized how lucky I was to have roots in two different countries and design traditions.”

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