Looking for a wow effect? Colorful, feminine, affordable: it’s online and we tried it.
We followed MAIOCCI to London for their winter collection shooting and we decided to model some dresses ourselves. We had two big suitcases stuffed with clothes and started taking our own personal pictures at 7 am – to the great amusement of our Hotel staff. Here was the scene: early morning, two very elegant women with full make-up, various pieces of jewellery, evening clutches, old sneakers (and high heels and big heavy cameras in their hands) going back and forth to change outfit again and again. The receptionists, concierge and porters smiled while we kept going back to our room and got changed to more evening looks. At our fourth appearance, though, something went different. The hotel lobby seemed to freeze staring at us, and the receptionist, after a moment of surprise, said: wow! Wow ladies…what are you wearing?
It was MAIOCCI.
Later that day I talked to Paolo Errico, designer of the brand, and Crina Okumus, its founder.
Beatrice: The colors of the MAIOCCI dresses turn heads. What is color-blocking, the technique you use so much?
Paolo: Color-blocking is one of MAIOCCI’s trademarks. Inspired by art, it puts blocks of colors together in contrasting combinations one wouldn’t expect. Think Gustav Klimt for example. You know those colours combinations you never thought they’d work together and you really like? You think…what’s happened to me?
Crina: Paolo is a visionary creator…he sees in advance the trends of the next five seasons!
Paolo: The MAIOCCI woman doesn’t wear a trend though… she is the trend; she has the character to express herself, change a detail, be herself.
Beatrice: so you guys imagine a specific woman when you prepare a collection?
Crina: We do. She could be working during the day and add some jewellery and accessories to go out with the same dress at night. She might need to be formal or playful depending on the mood or the occasion, so her age doesn’t count as much: even though we have a grown-up line and a younger one, I myself wear both. Finally, this woman wants to feel sexy and be admired, but she also feels so comfortable in her clothes that she would like to sleep in them! We do pay a lot of attention to quality even if prices are affordable.
Paolo: I do need Crina’s commercial side…If it was for me, I would only pay attention to the quality and never to the price! I used to work for Cavalli, so affordable prices were less of an issue.
You work exclusively online, with partners like Yoox, Zalando, House of Frasers. How do people buy in different countries?
Crina: We sell in about 30 countries and there are differences indeed. In Eastern Europe women want to look sexy, it’s very important to them. Swiss customers don’t want to show everything at the beginning, they need time to seduce , but they also order very colorful clothes. Germans look at the price and pay great attention to quality – they have respect for what they are buying. America is one of the markets we have just started with and we have big plans for it. I am moving there at the end of the month and will research the market.
Beatrice: But I have seen some American celebrities wearing MAIOCCI’s jewellery.
Crina: We had a good start without concentrating too much on the US market; that’s why we plan to do more. We have showrooms where we presented our clothes and jewellery lines to celebrities. We have been delighted to see Rita Ora, Kimberly Welsh, Lindsay Lohan and Whitney Port, for example, wearing our designs. I love when I see our dresses in the street or on a celebrity: I would go to that person and kiss her! I have a big respect for every person who buys from us. It’s so empowering and motivating; it really pushes me to do better and more.
Beatrice: You are moving to America, you have a young daughter, an entrepeneur husband also in the online business, and an expanding brand. As a woman and a person…do you ever fear not to be able to do it all, or overwhelmed?
Not really. I live very much in the present as my father showed me to. I couldn’t be where I am, without my husband and my father – it’s always a teamwork, even when you are trying to be independent. I do have two babies (my baby and the business), but I think I have learnt to manage the tension and put things into perspective. I live in the present, I had some difficult moments like everybody, but I keep dreaming big and colorful!