Marisa Berenson: Global Style Icon
Clothes, like music, can transport you. When I was designing the flexible four piece capsule I was thinking about comfort, which is why most of the pieces look straight out of the 1970s and Studio 54. I was also thinking about travel, only at the time we were still in the middle of the pandemic and we didn’t know when travel bans would be lifted, so the only travel that was in my future was in my mind and through photos.
I came across the photo of Marisa Berenson from 1967 photographed by Henry Clarke in Sardinia when doing research. She’s wearing an elaborate gold caftan by the American Designer Tina Lesser and large pearl-like rings by Gripoix while sitting on top of a roof overlooking the Mediterranean Sea. You can almost imagine a Negroni waiting to be sipped off camera. She is the granddaughter of Elsa Schiaperelli who started modeling for Diana Vreeland at the age of 16. She was destined to be a woman of the world in the way few are.
This photo looked like a dream to me when I was looking for inspiration. I wanted to create a more refined and practical caftan. Something that could be worn into an office for those that don’t have ultra formal dress policies. Something that could be dressed up for an evening out or just an afternoon running errands. A dress that would be comfortable if you were working from home, but that felt a little more polished.
Tina Lesser was one of the pioneering designers of the American Look along with Claire McCardell who was the true creator of the capsule wardrobe. They really invented this casual style of dressing that we now know as sportswear and associate with American fashion. While Claire McCardell was known for her simple styles and couture-like finishes on everyday-wear, Tina Lesser was known for her global influences.
Like Claire McCardell she focused on styles for women for normal, daily life. Real women. Not the women in photos living the lives we’d all like to lead, like Marisa Berenson sitting on top of a house in Sardinia. She made clothing for the lives women were actually leading while still making them beautiful and functional.