Achille Maramotti

Tycoon who pioneered 'off the peg' designer clothes with his fashion label MaxMara

The Italian fashion label MaxMara has always stood out: because there is no one person behind the label, there is no figurehead. MaxMara was founded by Achille Maramotti in 1951; he wanted a name that could be pronounced in any language and yet hinted at no one in particular. The "Max" came from a local character called Count Max, a man perennially drunk but always dashing, the "Mara" from the family surname.

Achille Maramotti, businessman: born Reggio Emilia, Italy 7 January 1927; married 1952 Ida Lombardini (two sons, one daughter); died Albinea, Italy 12 January 2005.

The Italian fashion label MaxMara has always stood out: because there is no one person behind the label, there is no figurehead. MaxMara was founded by Achille Maramotti in 1951; he wanted a name that could be pronounced in any language and yet hinted at no one in particular. The "Max" came from a local character called Count Max, a man perennially drunk but always dashing, the "Mara" from the family surname.

This lack of ego was even more incredible when you consider that Italians have long been obsessed with " la marca" (the label) and that in the 1950s most women still had their clothes made at the local dressmakers, or, if they were rich enough, at a couture house.

And yet there was MaxMara, neither one nor the other, producing ready-made designer clothes. Maramotti showed great foresight, because designer "off the peg" was the way the industry would go, and yet he was only 24 years old when he started MaxMara.

Fashion was not Maramotti's first choice of career. Perhaps to follow in the footsteps of his father - a professor of literature who died when Achille was 12 - he chose a professional path first, as a lawyer. But he had barely started practising when he decided to go into the clothing business instead.

Achille Maramotti was born in Reggio Emilia in 1927, a part of Italy with a dialect almost incomprehensible even to Italians not from the region. His mother, Giulia, ran a tailoring school and his great-grandmother, remarkably, had run a clothes shop in the 1850s. Many years later, in 1980 Maramotti would launch a "plus size" designer fashion label which he did call after someone: this great-grandmother, Marina Rinaldi. It remains one of the most successful collections for size 16-plus women.

Maramotti never had a yearning to be a typical designer and he didn't go about selling the MaxMara clothes in a conventional way, either. At the time the majority of women bought fabric to have made up by a local seamstress, so he persuaded those fabric shops to display his wares (they little realised that the more popular he became the less fabric they would sell).

MaxMara's success is based on clothes that are stylish but skim over the major trends; thus a MaxMara coat can be worn for several seasons. The label is a creative "co-op" - no one takes the sole credit because Maramotti believed everyone, in each stage of the garment's making, from the textile designers to the machinists, plays a part. Over the years various named designers were called in for their input - Karl Lagerfeld, Jean-Charles Castelbajac, Dolce e Gabbana, Narciso Rodriguez - but they all contributed anonymously.

Around the same time that Maramotti launched MaxMara he started investing in art, his first piece being by Alberto Burri, an Italian Expressionist painter. Maramotti adored Expressionist art and went on to collect it for the rest of his life; the walls of his 13th-century home in Albinea were hung with a riot of colour quite at odds with the understated chic associated with the fashion label.

Art was not all he traded in. At the age of 25, Maramotti also bought his first bank shares and at the time of his death was deputy chairman of the Credito Emiliano bank, Credem (controlled by the Maramotti family), and director of Unicredito and Mediobank. Last year he was listed by Forbes as the 262nd richest man in the world, with a wealth of $2.1bn. The company never made any acquisitions.

The MaxMara stable now consists of 35 different labels, Marella, Sportmax, Pennyblack and Marina Rinaldi being the best known. It employs 3,600 people worldwide, with nearly 1,800 boutiques in 90 countries. Despite his immense wealth, Maramotti was uninterested in self-publicity. He concentrated on his family (all his children followed him into the business), his herd of cows, from whose milk he made his own Parmesan, and his art.

Annalisa Barbieri



Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: 1st Line Technical Support Engineer

£19000 - £23000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This IT and Telecoms company ar...

Recruitment Genius: Assistant Manager - Visitor Fundraising

£23000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The Visitor Fundraising Team is responsi...

Recruitment Genius: Developer

£30000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an opportunity to join ...

Recruitment Genius: Trainee Sales Account Manager - OTE £25,000

£15000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Are you outgoing, ambitious, en...

Day In a Page

War with Isis: Is Turkey's buffer zone in Syria a matter of self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

Turkey's buffer zone in Syria: self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

Ankara accused of exacerbating racial division by allowing Turkmen minority to cross the border
Doris Lessing: Acclaimed novelist was kept under MI5 observation for 18 years, newly released papers show

'A subversive brothel keeper and Communist'

Acclaimed novelist Doris Lessing was kept under MI5 observation for 18 years, newly released papers show
Big Blue Live: BBC's Springwatch offshoot swaps back gardens for California's Monterey Bay

BBC heads to the Californian coast

The Big Blue Live crew is preparing for the first of three episodes on Sunday night, filming from boats, planes and an aquarium studio
Austin Bidwell: The Victorian fraudster who shook the Bank of England with the most daring forgery the world had known

Victorian fraudster who shook the Bank of England

Conman Austin Bidwell. was a heartless cad who carried out the most daring forgery the world had known
Car hacking scandal: Security designed to stop thieves hot-wiring almost every modern motor has been cracked

Car hacking scandal

Security designed to stop thieves hot-wiring almost every modern motor has been cracked
10 best placemats

Take your seat: 10 best placemats

Protect your table and dine in style with a bold new accessory
Ashes 2015: Alastair Cook not the only one to be caught in The Oval mindwarp

Cook not the only one to be caught in The Oval mindwarp

Aussie skipper Michael Clarke was lured into believing that what we witnessed at Edgbaston and Trent Bridge would continue in London, says Kevin Garside
Can Rafael Benitez get the best out of Gareth Bale at Real Madrid?

Can Benitez get the best out of Bale?

Back at the club he watched as a boy, the pressure is on Benitez to find a winning blend from Real's multiple talents. As La Liga begins, Pete Jenson asks if it will be enough to stop Barcelona
Athletics World Championships 2015: Beijing witnesses new stage in the Jessica Ennis-Hill and Katarina Johnson-Thompson heptathlon rivalry

Beijing witnesses new stage in the Jess and Kat rivalry

The last time the two British heptathletes competed, Ennis-Hill was on the way to Olympic gold and Johnson-Thompson was just a promising teenager. But a lot has happened in the following three years
Jeremy Corbyn: Joining a shrewd operator desperate for power as he visits the North East

Jeremy Corbyn interview: A shrewd operator desperate for power

His radical anti-austerity agenda has caught the imagination of the left and politically disaffected and set a staid Labour leadership election alight
Isis executes Palmyra antiquities chief: Defender of ancient city's past was killed for protecting its future

Isis executes Palmyra antiquities chief

Robert Fisk on the defender of the ancient city's past who was killed for protecting its future
Berlusconi's world of sleaze: The astonishing lifestyle once enjoyed by Italy's former PM

Berlusconi's world of sleaze

The astonishing lifestyle once enjoyed by Italy's former PM
Disney plans galactic domination with endless Star Wars spin-offs

Disney plans galactic domination with endless Star Wars spin-offs

Films and theme parks are just the beginning. Disney believes its control of the now decades-old franchise can bring in merchandise and marketing millions for years to come
Could the golden age of the gaming arcade ever be revived in the era of the Xbox?

Could gaming arcades be revived?

The days when coin-ops were the only way to play the latest video games are gone. But a small band of enthusiasts are keeping the button-pushing dream alive
Edinburgh Fringe 2015: The 'tampon tax' has inspired a new wave of female comedians to reclaim period jokes

Heard the one about menstruation?

Yes, if you have been at the Fringe, where period pieces are taking centre stage