The Malta Independent 16 July 2020, Thursday

Marie Benoit's Diary: Mangano and the new romantics

Marie Benoît Tuesday, 20 March 2018, 09:30 Last update: about 3 years ago

I know of no woman who is not interested in fashion, at whatever age. I hardly buy any clothes these days as I have enough 'stuff' to last me two lifetimes at least. My cupboards are also full of fashion skeletons - clothes I should have never bought; dresses which are evidence of the occasional retail insanity; fashion failures destined for the charity shops. And not having to go to work everyday also means that all those suits and office clothes I bought over the years are now as good as useless as my lifestyle has slowly changed. "Cocktail dresses" or whatever they are called these days are seldom worn as I am going to less and less receptions for various reasons. I also find that pants are more comfortable than skirts as you don't have to wear expensive panty hose which snag in a second.

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In summer I rarely wear anything apart from Capri pants and a comfortable top. I am already feeling despondent at the thought of some five months of a hot and sticky summer.  I want to undress, not dress.

Which brings me to an invitation to the launch of Mangano's spring-summer 2018 collection on Women's Day.

The boutique is very central and in Bisazza street.

Now I had heard about the brand before even if I had never seen any of the Mangano clothes.  So I walked down to Bisazza street to take a look. I arrived to find a host of tall and stylishly dressed young ladies twice my size and less than half my age. I was to learn later that some were clients while others were bloggers and models. Not one to be daunted I set out to find the owner of this attractive boutique decorated by Alaister. I found Romualda Vella who is not unlike a model herself.

She showed me round her boutique which is on two floors. She is a mother of two girls and was a former National champion of fencing in épée. She has also won many competitions and one year represented Malta at the Seoul World championships.   

Romualda has always been interested in fashion and acquired the Mangano designer brand in 2016. She is well travelled and has visited and experienced renowned fashion brands in Los Angeles, New York, Miami, Milan, Monaco and Paris. "I was invariably impressed with the quality of the  service provided to customers in these boutiques" she tells me.

Her interest in fashion has been there 'forever' but she has a soft spot for Italian fashion. "I see in Mangano a purely Italian style design, good quality, dynamic, very versatile and elegant. When I was raising our two girls I was influenced by my entrepreneurial husband and wanted to prove myself in business and with his help opened Mangano." She is determined to provide an enjoyable shopping experience to clients in Malta which compares well with other countries. She tells me: "I want them to have a personalized VIP shopping experience."

As we were looking at all these beautiful clothes I asked her to tell me a little more about the Mangano brand. "They have five flagship stores in Italy and another one opening in Rome soon. In China there are as many as 17 franchise shops - and then there is this one in Malta," she explains.

The brand was founded in Italy in 1986 when the Mangano brothers embarked on a journey searching for a cosmopolitan Italian-style. Mangano look soon became popular and in a few years was known internationally.  

The theme of this spring-summer 2018 collection was inspired by the vibrant city of Istanbul which represents the union of two worlds. It is paying tribute to the old and celebrating the new. Like Istanbul the Mangano collection has a cosmopolitan mood and is extremely feminine. Prints and embellishments feature fresh flowers and magical butterflies which seem to have been plucked from nature. Stripes in various colours and widths are used very effectively.

The designers also took inspiration from pirates so that is why in this collection ruffles are a prominent feature. It is also celebrating the icons of the '80s such as Madonna and Sigourny Weaver in the iconic film  Working Girl.

Full tulle skirts are nonchalantly worn over pants or under sequin striped cropped sweaters and long tailored jackets.

The preppy College style is reinterpreted and influenced by Rock elements. Colours are inspired by the spices of the Grand Bazaar and the nighttime lights of the Bosphorus district.

Poplin, cotton, georgette which seems to be the iconic fabric of Mangano, tulle, faux leather and macramé lace are all there.

Pearls appear everywhere: on a belt,  blouse or sneakers. Embroidery is used lavishly, even on leather.

Jeans, classic pieces in the '80s, have frayed hems, asymmetrical edges, new rips and distressed effects, patches and cuffs for spring-summer 2018. Washes create an even more vintage look.

I love the ripped ones especially. I mean, who would have thought a few years back, that we would be actually paying good money for a ripped, washed pair of jeans. And I love the paint splashes! Couture in tatters as it were. Brilliantly upbeat.

The silhouette of this collection is flowing,  feminine and layered. The long dresses are delicately and lavishly embroidered. Twenty-first century feminism.

Last month Mangano launched a new concept which is named after the son of the CEO of the mother country - Alessandro Mangano.

This 'seconda linea' is more affordable and more casual, Romaulda tells me, showing me some more beautiful clothes.

In fact this boutique, Mangano's flagship store, was opened in Bisazza street a year and a half ago. A year later another Mangano boutique was opened at the Palace in Sliema.

From frothy fabrics to the sexiest of silhouettes, this Mangano collection is a celebration of femininity. There was more froth in this collection than in a Starbucks cappuccino. Think classical romance fashioned with turn-of-the-millenium technique. To see womanliness back in fashion is refreshing indeed.

I never wish I were 18 again. Not at all. However, when I see these lovely clothes which are being produced these days and available just down the street, I, for a few minutes, yes, do wish I wear 18 again... just so that I could wear them.

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