Insight | Vionnet Chairman

  • Vionnet’s chairman Matteo Marzotto came to Hong Kong last week to attend an in-store cocktail to preview the brand’s FW11 collection and meet and greet Hong Kong’s fashionistas. Armed with one of the industry’s most impressive CV’s and impeccable taste, he sat down and spoke to about the Italians versus the French, reviving Vionnet and personal style.

    “It’s always been about big organisations and big businesses so I wanted to start a new project, like a baby, that I could grow and bring up.”

    J: Why did you decide to revamp Vionnet?

    “I came from a family that had a company managing licenses in the fashion business, and then worked for Valentino as their CEO for six years. It’s always been about big organisations and big businesses so I wanted to start a new project, like a baby, that I could grow and bring up. My business partner Giovanni Castiglioni [husband of Marni designer Consuelo Castiglioni] was looking for a label that had some heritage but didn’t want it to be too recent or need a lot of repositioning. So I went to meet with an investment consultant and it was by chance that there was a Vionnet brochure on his desk. Although he tried to convince me that it was not for me because it was too “small”, I thought it was exactly what I was looking for. Vionnet was waking up from a 70-year-long sleep.”

    J: When you announced your acquisition of Vionnet in 2009, the French weren’t convinced that a historical French label could be based in Milan, with an Italian designer and belong to an Italian company. How did you feel then and how do you feel about it now?

    “I didn’t talk to many people about that, so you did your research. Yes, I was upset about the French people’s skepticism, that old thinking of Italy versus France on fashion, food, wine etc. I am more into the European mindset, that we share our knowledge and know-how. I’ve been very respectful of Vionnet’s long history and heritage. By now we’ve created seven seasons, and I think people can gradually see it.”

    J: Why did you ask Rodolfo Paglialunga to become the creative director of Vionnet?

    “I have a lot of respect for Prada. Miuccia Prada is such an innovative designer, while her husband Patrizio Bertelli is a very smart businessman. Rodolfo was one of the designers on their team and although he’s very talented, working in a big fashion house with such a big name meant that he could only be the second best at the most. I truly believe that he will add a new dimension to the brand. I was happy to provide a platform for him to lead Vionnet in terms of design.”

    J: So what’s your vision for the “revamped” Vionnet?

    “Vionnet is no longer just about the bias cut and elegant eveningwear. Its daywear is important too and modern women can relate to it. For example, Gwyneth Paltrow was wearing a short navy dress from our Spring 2011 collection to attend the signing session of her first book, My Father’s Daughter. She looked stunning, but it’s not all about red-carpet glamour.”

    J: Being hailed as one of the best-dressed men in the world, how do you define a “best-dressed woman”?

    “It’s about being comfortable. It’s about a combination of the way she carries herself, the way she talks and how she puts an outfit together. It’s never about just the clothes. I oppose the idea of having a personal stylist – if someone that you don’t know well puts a head-to-toe designer outfit on you, it will only feel rigid.”