Born: Paris, France, 9 February 1962. Education: Studied economics and fashion design in Stockholm, Sweden. Career: Fashion illustrator for newspapers and magazines, 1980-82; assistant to France Andrevie, Paris, 1982-88; first signature collection, 1988; first catwalk show, Paris, 1989; founded company Permanent Vacation, Paris, 1989; showed collection at Cour Carré du Louvre, October 1991; received new backing, from Japan, 1996; opened Paris boutique, 1998; ended launched ceramics collection, 1999. Exhibitions: Stockholm Design Museum, retrospective, 1998. Awards: "Venus" Best Young Designer award for spring/summer collection, 1993; Designer of the Year, Elle Sweden, 1999. Address: 9 rue Scribe, Paris 75001 France. Website: www.marcel-marongiu.com.
Nilard, Sita, "Sita Nilard Meets Fashion Upstart," in Fashion Weekly (London), 28 February 1991.
Baker, Lynsey, "Glad Rags to Riches," in The Guardian (London), 13January 1992.
Menkes, Suzy, "The North Wind Doth Blow," in the International Herald Tribune, 13 March 1993.
Gordon, Mary Ellen, "Marongiu's Spare Shapes," in WWD, 13September 1993.
Spindler, Amy, "In Paris, Clothes That Look Tough and Dangerous," in the New York Times, 16 March 1995.
Radsken, Jill, "Fashion; One World of Fashion," in the Boston Herald, 17 September 1999.
Stephans, Laura, "White-Out," in the Minneapolis-St. Paul Magazine, April 2000.
"Diversity Training," in WWD, 11 October 2000.
Biography Resource Center, available online at www.galenet.com,October 2001.
"Pleins Feux Sur la Femme de l'été," online at Absolu Féminin, www.absolufeminin.com, October 2001.
"Marcel Marongiu," online at First View, www.firstview.com, October 2001.
I believe the 1980s was all about appearance, money and "power dressing." The consumer was suddenly unimportant as media, photographers, and stylists went too far in seeking to shock and surprise each other through unreal supermodels.
We are facing a new era where a designer has once more to be in contact with the consumer and make them feel fashion can be fun and easy. Therefore I try to do interesting, personal clothes—easy to mix and at affordable prices. There is a new generation of women with a completely new attitude toward fashion. I believe clothes are an important and interesting way of communicating; therefore it is important to make the "user" comfortable and secure, to bring out the best in them.
Silhouette is my main preoccupation and everything is in the cut and the fabric. Details are secondary and should be avoided as much as possible.
Marcel Marongiu sees fashion design as a genuine means of communication. He wants people to be able to live out their fantasies by wearing his clothes and to discover what he terms "la vie plus belle," the beautiful life.
Marongiu designs clothes that are classically elegant yet also up to date, sexy, and carefree. His style is always strong and pronounced, the cut always clean and streamlined, emphasizing the contours and shape of the human body. Stretch fabrics and natural classic fabrics, often with a small Lycra percentage, help him achieve these silhouettes. His customer is a young, modern women, slightly tongue-in-cheek and sexy, who refuses to dress expensively. Marongiu targets this clientéle in a logical, businesslike way, and in the short time since the company's inception in 1991, the clothes are now sold in many boutiques throughout Sweden, Great Britain, Italy, France, Japan, and the United States.
Marongiu draws his inspiration from various sources; his favorite designers are Jacques Fath and Christian Dior, two men who had a huge influence on 1940s and 1950s fashion, a period to which Marcel particularly adheres when designing. He adores hard rock music and in 1991 even named his company after the title of an Aerosmith album, Permanent Vacation. Other favorite muses are painter Nicholas de Stael, writer Graham Greene, and filmmakers Martin Scorsese and Peter Greenaway.
Comparing two Marongiu collections perhaps gives an indication of the designer's style. The spring-summer 1994 collection was a mixture of three styles: renaissance in the fluidity and lightness of the materials, baroque in its generous volume, and classical in its Greek and Roman influences. Constructed mainly around a basic dress shape, Marcel wanted to create a collection that was soft, serene, and human, in colors making reference to nature—reds and chestnuts, the blues of dusk and twilight, and the colors of sand, beige, and white. The fall-winter collection for 1994-95 moved on from the ruralistic feeling of spring-summer and was inspired by the lifestyle and atmosphere of European cities between World War I and World War II and contrasted with shapes inspired by the Ottoman Empire. Usingstriped fabrics, Prince of Wales checks, mock astrakhan, and pleats, Marongiu created baggy silhouettes and distinctively superimposed tunics, smocks, or waistcoats on dresses or trousers. He also introduced colors of orange, green, and saffron yellow to his usual palette of burgundies, aubergines, and grays.
Marongiu prides himself on the fact that his clothes are 100-percent French in production. The sample collection is produced in his Paris studio but is manufactured in the Vendée, retail prices are very reasonable for a designer label. As well as clothes, the company has diversified by producing a small line of accessories, shoes, necklaces, belts, boots, bags, and hats, all in the distinctive Marongiu style. As Paris is the base of Marongiu's activities, he is now established as one of the city's leading young designers. He looks set to expand his business further, because Paris, as he describes it, is a present-day city, full of energy and romance.
Marongiu reached the breaking point with Swedish backers in 1996 when he vacated his contract and reestablished his firm with Japanese backing. Within two years, he opened a Paris boutique on the exclusive rue Saint-Honoré and established his first vendor in Nagoya, Japan. In his ninth year in the business, he debuted a first collection of leather goods. In support of the Swedish fashion maven and his impact on world tastes, Stockholm's Design Museum honored him with a retrospective exhibit.
In 1998, when the emerging trend aimed for minimalism and dressing down with flair and attitude, Marongiu lauded a new freedom from tradition. His wearable European day outfits produced the ease and comfort that women demanded. Of the push for simplification, CNN cited his faith in a voguish breeziness, "It enabled us…to have a new approach to fashion."
The year 1999 saw Marongiu at his best. He branched out into understated asymmetrical Artoria porcelainware for Limoges, plus cushions and lingerie, and snagged Elle Sweden's Designer of the Year award. In Paris, he celebrated the first decade of his Composites brand. He insisted on New York City for unveiling his 10th fashion collection. According to the Boston Herald, he expressed confidence in the switch from European venues, "You just have to be in the right place at the right moment. And New York is the right moment."
In the trendy new millennium, when he introduced a secondary line, Marongiu avoided artistic pretension to focus on chic that sells. Layering military with rock, he centered jersey frocks with soldier belts, the indispensable accessory for the with-it Marongiu look. For everyday attire, he topped crisp cotton skirts with wrapped bodices. His theme held steady for affordable goods that span the seasons.
updated by Mary Ellen Snodgrass