After meeting at college in Italy, Riccardo Audisio and Yago Goicoechea decided to move to Dubai to fulfil their dream of founding their own fashion label.
Inspired by the fluidity and elegance of the traditional kaftan, they opened their brand Taller Marmo in 2013, offering a new modern take on this classic sartorial item. Since then, Taller Marmo has gone from strength to strength, receiving international recognition for their chic designs that combine Middle Eastern flair with Italian craftsmanship. The designers have since moved back to Italy to further develop their brand, but they have not forgotten where they came from, with strong connections still in the region. As they prepared to launch their latest Ramadan collection, whose campaign stars the iconic Farida Khelfa, we caught up with the founders to reflect on the success of the brand so far.
Tell us about the universe of Taller Marmo today and where the brand is at.
We founded the brand in 2013 when we were just 19 years old, just a few months after we dropped out of the Istituto Marangoni in Milan where we met. We moved to Dubai to begin creating fluid kaftans, inspired by the jet-set style of the 1960s and 1970s. Taller Marmo is named after the Spanish expression for laboratory and the Italian word for marble; an indicator of our experimentation with innovative techniques and luxury fabrics.
What can you tell us about the High Summer collection?
The High Summer 2023 collection is celebratory and explores the juxtaposition of opulence and freshness: pastel-neon colours versus deep dark hues, shiny metallics versus matte textures, asymmetrical silhouettes versus symmetrical styles, fluid crepe cady versus crisp Couture-quality fil coupe and jacquard textiles, sleek fringes versus vaporous feathers. Each exclusive combines new modern silhouettes, like the Mila Kaftan and the California Kaftan and iconic ones, like the fringed Mrs Ross Kaftan and the feathered Ubud Dress.
You worked with Farida Khelfa on the campaign images – how do you think she embodies the brand and the Taller Marmo woman?
The Middle East is a key market for us and for this reason, we worked on a very special campaign starring the iconic Farida Khelfa, photographed in an unexpected and editorial style by Louie Banks. Farida Khelfa is a style icon that embodies and celebrates all of the values of womanhood while perfectly representing the essence of a Middle Eastern woman and this is what Taller Marmo is about.
This issue is about success – how would you define success?
For us, success is perseverance, consistency in our designs and an elevated finishing which has helped to build trust with our consumers throughout the years. Our goal is to keep pushing the envelope for eveningwear and to make it modern without falling into clichés like being edgy, cool, trendy, classic or feminine. We think about how the 20-year-old and the 60-year-old will experience the same dress or how a modest dresser or someone who wants to dress sexier will style the same minidress anywhere from Riyadh to Los Angeles. This year, we have presented the largest number of collections composed of nine exclusive capsules made in collaboration with Taller Marmo’s key retail partners including Net-a-Porter, Browns Fashion, MatchesFashion, MyTheresa, Bloomingdale’s Middle East, Harvey Nichols Dubai, Ounass, Etoile La Boutique and Harrods.
Your brand began in Dubai but you have since had success across the world – to what do you attribute this success?
As mentioned above, in 2012, we dropped out of the university in Milan and moved to Dubai after doing our very first collection from Riccardo’s parent’s house in his hometown. We had no business knowledge, zero work experience at a fashion house and two unfinished degrees. Dubai received us with open arms, for half a decade, and gave us the chance to learn so many things, with the support of industry leaders in the Middle East. After that, we decided to move back to Italy, the country where we grew up, to apply the expertise of Italian craftsmanship to our designs. During all these years, our determination has helped us grow in the region and internationally having been able to familiarise ourselves with different markets and consumers.
What would you say to aspiring designers from the Middle East who are looking to make their mark on a global platform?
Creating a personal and unique identity within your designs is the key to succeeding on an international level in addition to understanding the need of the markets you are targeting.
How do you combine the tradition and styles of the Middle East with Western fashion in your designs?
The symbol of our brand is the kaftan. We think the kaftan is a statement. A sign of relaxedness, self-care and well-being. When you think of an occasion that you would wear a kaftan, you imagine yourself having fun at a party or during the holidays, visiting a beautiful city during the summer. This silhouette which is created through our collection fits both Middle Eastern and Western fashion styles.
Tell us a little about your creative process and the materials you use in your collections.
Perseverance and listening to your instincts are fundamental. We take pride in our stubbornness. At the very beginning, nobody understood why we were doing kaftans and loose silhouettes, because it was not “in fashion” and it didn’t look cool, but we decided to stick to it until we started receiving attention from key retailers, and our kaftans proved themselves. We produce our collections entirely in Italy, in small and medium family-owned factories. Manufacturing is managed internally to avoid subcontracting. The factories are based nearby our headquarters and distribution centre to reduce the carbon footprint and our collections are only produced to orders, avoiding extra stock.
Tradition and innovation are key in all the materials we use for our collections: the viscose is FSC certified, the polyester used in garments is recycled, the sequins are made from recycled plastic found in the ocean, the cotton is part of the Better Cotton Initiative, the jacquards and fil coupé fabrics are made by a historic family-owned silk mill in Como, Italy, the feathers are sourced exclusively in South Africa and assembled by hand in Florence, Italy.
Can you tell us about some of the unique techniques that you use in your designs?
Our designs are defined by the fluid silhouette we create made for all women of all body types. And this requires expertise in tailoring and precision in the construction of the garment keeping an effortless look to our design.
Who is your Taller Marmo muse?
Women like Peggy Guggenheim, Marchesa Casati, Isabella Blow, Dalida, Josephine Baker, Diana Ross, Raffaella Carrà. All of them have something in common for us, and they were starting points of entire collections because of their uniqueness and body of work really shaped the world around them.