«The way of dressing must be a tool for radiating one’s
self… Physical appearance is continuously moulded and
remoulded by the possibilities of inner development.
I create for this ideal woman who moulds and remoulds
herself … It is to this ever-new woman that I dedicate my
creative capacity each time I embark on this marvellous effort».
Germana Marucelli

Germana Marucelli

(Settignano, Florence 1905 – Milan 1983) was the first post-war fashion designer who firmly refused to be dictated by French haute couture canons – predominant at the time – and who actively strove for her own personal style, deeply embedded in Italian creativity.

the beginnings

Germana Marucelli’s beginnings are lost in the mists of time. A born dressmaker – she was a descendant of Francesco Marucelli, the renowned master of the Woolcraft Guild under Cosimo the Elder – at the age of 14 Germana began dedicating herself to the art of dressmaking at the family workshop “Romiti”, at the time one of the most important reproducers of French fashion in Florence.
Courageous and independent, in 1932 she opened her first dressmaker’s shop in Genoa before moving to Milan, which would become the hub of her activities.
During the Second World War, as international communication was severely curtailed, she gave birth to a highly personal and individual language, considered by many as an anticipation of Dior’s New Look.

«Having reasserted in just a few emotional words her faith in an Italian fashion conceived with all-Italian taste and spirit – and therefore better suited to our way of life – Germana Marucelli has presented a collection of models that unquestionably bear the mark of a strong personality. Germana doesn’t take inspiration from Paris – she creates with a completely free spirit».
Vera, in
Bellezza, 1949

relationship with art and culture

Known as the intellectual dressmaker, Germana was always close with the artists and intellectuals of her time. In 1947, she founded and funded the San Babila Prize (19471952), the only one entirely dedicated to poetry. The prize was first awarded in 1948 to Giuseppe Ungaretti (main italian XXth century poet). At the same time, in her Milan atelier she also established a cultural salon with regular rendez-vous on Thursdays.

Beginning in 1948, she embarked on fruitful collaborations with artists, personally involving them in her creations.

the search for style

Marucelli’s sensitivity to contemporary needs and her constant attention to the female universe led her to always seek out new solutions and to break new ground in the fashion world.
In 1950, she took over the historical “Ventura” dressmaker’s shop in Milan. This enabled her to make her local production international. That very year she was invited to the European fashion event in Munich; hers was, indeed, the only fashion house acting as an ambassador for Italian style abroad. A forerunner of the Made in Italy style par excellence, in the early 1950s  she started collaborating with and backing Giovanni Battista Giorgini (manager and earliest coordinator of Italian fashion) in his campaign to encourage the brightest Italian designers to create their own style. Marucelli participated with enthusiasm in the earliest events marking the birth of Italian fashion: on Giorgini’s invitation, she presented her own collections at Villa Torrigiani in Florence in 1951 and at Palazzo Pitti in 1952.

A deep and careful observer and connoisseur of female style and the feminine, Marucelli antedated trends and styles with her dresses.
In her sometimes anthropological quest for style, she focused on dresses that wouldn’t just wrap around the woman but rather be an extension and interpretation of her. She originated a new concept of fashion, where the woman is no longer a passive subject to be dressed with meaning; instead, she is an active component – or even the very meaning – of the dress itself.
In her collections, Marucelli brilliantly embodied the “constantly changing” female soul of the time like nobody had dared to (or managed to) do before.

«This imperceptible telepathy between myself and Dior is surprising… I believe, without any doubt, that neither Dior nor any other knew what I had done (…)».
Germana Marucelli

Thanks to this intuition, the awareness of her abilities was indeed strengthened, as was the determination to abandon French fashion in favour of an autochthonous project.

«Every week, someone would come and briefly lecture on their art experiences. Germana’s intuition in creating lines and models several years before international fashion was also at work when she chose her lecturers: her lists were a who’s who of figures that would later become touchstones of our contemporary culture but at the time were unknown and often opposed by the critical establishment.».
Fernanda Pivano 

«Germana… had the gift… of creating what the fashion establishment would impose only months or even years later. This was one of her main qualities. She came up with the idea of wearing trousers under your dress before anyone ever spoke about it. Similarly, at a time when nobody imagined that an (almost) identical dress could be designed for both sexes, she took part in a fashion show and presented couples wearing identical clothes made from the same fabric…».
Gillo Dorfles

prizes and awards

In the course of her career she has received several awards and recognitions, including: in 1954, the honor of Knight of the Italian Republic conferred by President Luigi Einaudi; in 1962, the award of “Critics of Fashion” and the “Golden Rose”, both  assigned by the Italian press; in 1964, the Gold Medal for “Her decisive aesthetic contribution to the affirmation of Italian Fashion in the World”, conferred by Minister Luigi Preti on the occasion of the International Conference of Artists, Critics and Art Scholars, chaired by Professor Giulio Carlo Argan; in 1969, the Oscar of Fashion.

«… these small figures sping from a precise unitarian plan: they are autochthonous products, deriving from Germana’s long meditation on herself and others. These others are women – whom for so many years she has assisted in “expressing themselves”… And Germana, giving life to her creations… has always been faithful to her commitment of giving form where it is lacking (…)».
Gillo Dorfles

In 1972, at the peak of her career, Germana Marucelli withdrew from the limelight of the fashion world, without however giving up her passion for fashion and design. She began producing exclusive dresses for a group of selected clients and opened a small design and craft school for her granddaughters and their friends. She produced precious golden plaques, evocatively titled Le Presenze [The Presences], a synthesis of her constant research.