Italian brand Marina Rinaldi, established by the Max Mara fashion group in 1980, is all about celebrating the curvier female form through great-fitting, fashion-led clothes in sizes 14-28. And its new London flagship – replacing its Old Bond Street location – is the perfect homage to such a grand aim.
Walking in – past a suited and booted security guard – to the stately Albemarle Street property, I’m hit by the luxury of the space. The marble floored foyer – where I’m immediately picked up by a softly-spoken, immaculately dressed shop assistant in a shapely black silk skirt – is airy and bright, and I feel like I’ve just walked in to the London pad of a moneyed socialite with immaculate taste – lacquered black floors draped in plush rugs, cool, sculptural chandeliers. But there’s still a comfortable feel – loungy sofas and books convey a distinct lack of stuffiness. I meet glamourous shop manager Diletta Bettarini, who puts the store’s aesthetic into a sentence: ‘we’ve got a classic British space’ she says, gesturing towards the vast windows of the Georgian townhouse, ‘but with Italian style.’
And Italian style abounds – tasteful artwork, furnishings and rugs have all been imported from the country. But, crucially, it’s not overdone – allowing the clothes to take centre stage. And boy, do they. The store houses several separate Marina Rinaldi collections, displayed over three vast floors, from the relaxed, city-chic Town collection on the first floor to the blinging jewel-encrusted gowns in the vast VIP lounge upstairs (the changing rooms of which would swamp the size of many a London flat.) The ground floor has Marina Rinaldi’s eponymous range, as well as a unique Albemarle collection created specifically for (and only available in) the store. Prices range from £70 to £3000 for clothing, shoes and accessories, and unusually, there’s something for women of all different age groups, from demure, cinched-waist dresses to younger, edgier COS-like cuts on tops and skirts and modern, tactile materials.
I soon realise that, unlike the vast majority of labels, this brand has no interest at all in less voluptuous ladies that, frankly, these clothes would look ridiculous on. The cuts, the materials – they’re all designed to proudly hug curves. Bad luck, skinny minnies.
Marina Rinaldi’s motto is ‘Women are Back’ – and looking around the store, I can’t help but agree. This is a celebration of a sartorially under-represented proportion of womankind – and it's fabulous.