Katia Marinello, stylist, is a genuine point of reference in the fashion world. Just enter her shop and you will feel like you have delved into a world where style and elegance become a natural accomplishment. Customers spontaneously rely on her advice, because just one look from Katia is enough to get an idea of who they are and how best to value them. It’s not merely a question of outfits, but something more, something which goes beyond and buys customers over. Every year, her fashion shows are a genuine event, where performance, dancing, folklore, refinement and taste come together to create an extraordinary whole.
I can just imagine you organising fashion shows with your Barbie dolls when you were little, am I right?
Yes, definitely. Just think, when I was just a year and a half, I had tantrums because when I saw beautiful curtains, I would start crying because I wanted “those clothes”. At the time, my grandmother, who knew how to sew very well, would look for a similar fabric and try to satisfy me. That was the greatest gift for me. A few years later, I was already telling my mother: “You don’t look good in that skirt or that top… and then, no way am I getting dressed if my underware doesn’t match”.
So you were a designer babe in arms, but then how did it all really begin? Tell us your story.
I am a surveyor and I studied Architecture at Venice university, but my true passion was drama, in particular scenery. So, to learn more about it, I went to Rome, to study at the Mario Riva Academy, which is where I became a sort of adviser, because they relied on me for the choice of stage costumes. It was love that made me come home. I got married but I never completely abandoned the theatre world. I quickly made a name for myself, I was the stylist for an advertisement, while friends and family relied on me to choose their outfits. So much so that I decided to open a shop. And I slowly began to create something of my own. I found a craftsman who began to produce some jewellery shoes, embellished by Swarovski carats hand-applied with impeccable care: one by one. They were so successful that I began to sell them all over Italy. I had two agents. In the meantime, I continued being called as a consultant for advertisements. So that’s how it all started, due to passion.
How did you get to Union Lido?
Thanks to my father, and here I think I need to digress a little and talk about Ferdinando Marinello who was truly able to invent a model of hospitality. Many, many years ago, when tourists arrived at the camp site with their motorbike and their ridge tent, my father – who was a baker – would deliver bread to them on his bicycle, while Giovanni Cattel delivered cheese. They would talk to the tourists and entertain them a little in the evening. My father called a friend over who played the accordion. Their evenings quickly became memorable, and someone began to ask if there was a place to finish off these get-togethers while enjoying local delicacies. This is how my father came to ask his wife to prepare some breaded sardines, with potatoes and a pasta dish seasoned with fish sauce for a small group of 5 people. These five guests became ten, ten became twenty and in 1960 my father was serving 1200 diners a night. My mother did the cooking, together with her four sisters, and my grandmothers.
People began talking about Fernando Marinello’ Style, as he didn’t bring over the bill at the end of the meal, but would instead sit down and offer a bottle, have a chat with diners, one by one, without distinction. There were people who even waited an hour just to speak to him. He ran that restaurant in Cà Ballarin for 25 years, until Ms. Macola asked him to run what is still known today as ‘La Fattoria’, in the Sporting Center. He retired in 1989 for health reasons. His nickname was: “the tourists’ friend”. He became chairman of the Pro Loco, councillor, people began to mention him in books about the Cavallino coast as a person who had known how to create a style of hospitality.
Let’s get back to you, so how did the leap from running a restaurant to the world of fashion come about?
I worked with my father, waitressing during the day and studying drama and focusing on the theatre at night. I designed coats and clothes for a few companies, but I dreamed of running my own business. There was a small shop in Union and I took it. Obviously, being ‘Fernando’s daughter’ was my laissez-passer. People would come to visit and would get to know me day after day and start to trust me and my taste for fashion. My father taught me to consider tourists as friends. There you are, I don’t study outfits for my customers, but rather advise my friends; I try to help them feel good about themselves, finding their own, highly personal style. This is what gratifies me, this is the meaning of what I do.
Tell us about your fashion shows, which are deemed to be genuine events…
I have tried to give rise – in partnership with Union Lido – to a format that was different from a traditional catwalk show. People are on holiday and they need to see something new that stirs their emotions. For instance, I might call a dance company that is on tour in Jerusalem and will afterwards move on to Dallas …
How many outfits do you prepare?
About a hundred, and each one needs to be interpreted, creating the right atmosphere, it needs to be “put on show”.
How many brands can one find in your boutique?
Around 40 just for swimwear. I am constantly on the look-out because, since I have an international clientèle, I have to be innovative at all times and offer something different, comprising an extensive range to accommodate several styles and requirements.
There are some ladies who come to me specifically to refresh their summer wardrobe at the start of the season, and their winter wardrobe in September.
What has your greatest satisfaction been?
Receiving e-mails thanking me for my kindness and professionalism. There are some customers, perhaps from Germany or Denmark, who even in winter ask me for a particular outfit to wear for a special event…