Bergamo's Mariuccia Mandelli, founder of the Krizia fashion house
|The Krizia fashion house was opened
by the former primary school teacher
Although Mandelli trained to be a primary school teacher on the advice of her mother and pursued a teaching career when she was in her twenties, she had a talent for sewing and had always been interested in fashion. So it took just one lucky break to get her started.
When a friend offered her the use of a flat rent-free for six months, Mandelli went to live in it, bought an old sewing machine and started making clothes. She then launched her label, Krizia, by selling the clothes from her small car, a Fiat 500. She used to drive to shops in Milan with suitcases full of samples in the back and by 1954 had established a ready-to-wear fashion house.
|Andy Warhol's painting captured
Mandelli's trademark look
Although she lived in Milan after launching Krizia, Mandelli remained proud of her home town and often talked about it fondly in media interviews, promoting the city’s reputation as an artistic and cultural treasure chest, with its own natural beauty, set among hills, mountains, lakes and rolling countryside.
Mandelli’s fashion house grew rapidly during the 1960s and 1970s. In 1971, Mandelli launched a style of shorts, which were cut very short and were possibly the first version of hot pants to appear. Krizia knitwear became instantly recognizable, featuring animals such as elephants, lions, tigers, leopards and giraffes in the designs.
During the 1990s, Krizia grew into a multi-million-dollar business and Mandelli’s hairstyle and trademark red lipstick were once captured in a portrait by Andy Warhol.
Mandelli also went on to establish a popular line of men’s wear, one of the first female fashion designers to do this successfully.
When Mariuccia Mandelli died at her home in Milan in December 2015 at the age of 90, she had been running Krizia, for the best part of 60 years, relinquishing control only a year earlier when it was sold to a Chinese corporation. In an obituary, the Guardian newspaper called her the Godmother of Italian fashion.