2012 February 22
From The Daily Milan! Maria to the Max
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(MILAN) Equal parts brains and beauty (with a masters from Bocconi to prove it!), Maria Giulia Maramotti is a self-proclaimed gypsy with seven tattoos and a serious sailing habit. She wants to make Max Mara—the über-upscale Italian fashion brand founded by her grandfather—a household name in the U.S. All aboard? BY MARIA DENARDO
What’s it like having a famous name?
You would be surprised, but we’re not very well-known in Italy. We’re a very reserved family. We don’t like to do a lot of interviews, and we don’t party very much. I wouldn’t say that I have a famous name, but people are aware of the value of Max Mara.
Where did you learn to speak English so well?
We had a British nanny for a while. After I turned six, I was sent to England for the summers.
How long have you lived in New York?
I’ve only been here since September, and it’s a great change from Paris. I have an apartment in Chelsea. I’ve had a bit of culture shock!
Do you travel a lot?
In the last two years, I haven’t spent more than 10 days in the same bed.
You’re also an avid sailor. What’s your usual role on the high seas?
The skipper is the boss on the sailboat, but my job is to control the smaller, more difficult, till. I like it because it keeps me concentrated on one thing. It’s a way for me to escape.
What did you learn working as a saleswoman at Max Mara in Italy?
It was the best six months of my career. I started from the bottom and worked my way up. When I first began, everyone at the store was scared because they knew who I was, but they warmed up pretty fast. I was one of the top salespeople. I learned that women get dressed in our stores—it’s not just about glamorous party clothes. It’s also about the woman who simply wants a pair of black trousers, and making sure she finds them.
Who is the Max Mara woman?
She’s a real woman who lives her life. She may work; she may not. She’s strong, intelligent, independent, and modern. She dresses up to be fashionable but will never be a fashion victim. At 25, she’ll buy her dream coat and pair it with skinny jeans and a ballerina flat. At 80, she’ll be elegant and dressed up for the night. She could be a jet-setter or a family woman; kids, or no kids.
Where would she live in the city?
Either the Upper East Side or Chelsea. But she may live in Brooklyn. Why not?
What does the Max Mara woman have on her iPod?
Beethoven, acid rock and jazz.
What’s on your iPod?
The Beatles, after the White Album, and The Rolling Stones. I’m a big fan of Brit rock, so I’m into Placebo, Radiohead, The Kings, and The Killers. If I was born in the seventies, I would have been a groupie.
Keith Richards, of course! He’s the best-dressed person in the whole world.
How do you plan on roping in younger clientele?
We have a lot of young, fascinating ambassadors in New York. The product has already evolved a lot for the modern woman while maintaining its core identity. Of course, it’s about marketing, but at the end of the day, it’s the value of our product.
Are you worried about the Euro?
Who wouldn’t be? What Europe needs now is to face the fact that people can’t live beyond their means. It’s very simple. Americans learned it before Europeans. I’m pretty confident we’ll get there. We need to work harder and better, maybe for less. That’s it.
OK, back to you! What are you obsessed with right now?
Boardwalk Empire. That is my addiction. I’m also obsessed with AC Milan football. I don’t care about the Italian team. I love soccer, but I never played.
How many tattoos do you have?
Seven. I got a sun on my hip when I was 18. One year later, I got koi fish on my back to symbolize the sea. Then I got a wave on my foot after I went to Australia and learned to body board. “In blues we trust” was tattooed on my side after a huge blues concert in Milan. “Gimme Shelter” is on my wrist from The Rolling Stones, and I also have “Crossroads.” The gun under my bicep was the last one.
Do you date a lot in the city?
A lot! It’s very different from Italy and Europe. It’s kind of weird, I have to say. This generation is so taken by work that you don’t have time.
How is dating different in Europe?
You don’t really date in Europe. You might go out to dinners with friends or go out once to meet with a group of people. The approach is a lot smoother.
Who’s more your type: Italian men or New York men?
Italian men are unbeatable. I don’t mean to be rude, but there’s nothing like them. They’re charming. They’ve seduced women forever. They really know how to do it. They open the door, they talk about different subjects, they pull out your chair, and send you flowers.
What’s on your bucket list?
Professionally, my goal is to make Max Mara as strong as possible in the States. Personally, I’d like to live in Brazil and Hong Kong, two emerging markets. I’m also going to go on a month-long trip by myself to Argentina—a soul-searching journey. I’m a gypsy, but hopefully someone will come along and make me fall desperately in love!
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