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An Ode to French Couturier Anne-Marie Beretta

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There are certain wardrobe staples that are so iconic, we often forget that they were conceived by a real human. After decades of being referenced, reworked, and redesigned, we view these styles as part of the fashion landscape. They’ve always just sort of been there. Take, for example, a certain coat silhouette that has had a massive resurgence in the past few years—usually rendered in wool or cashmere, the style is known for its simplicity: dolman sleeves accented by wide shoulders, a thick lapel, and tapering ever so slightly towards the bottom. Everyone knows it, but few know that it was originated at Max Mara with the 101801 coat. Fewer still know the designer’s name: Anne-Marie Beretta. So who is this mystery woman with such a lasting creative output?

Born in France in 1937, Beretta began her career in fashion by crafting costumes for the theater, eventually working for designers like Oleg Cassini. By 1974 she launched her own line, but continued to work with other houses—most notably Max Mara.

Beretta’s aesthetic (easy to wear, minimal in detail, but striking in regards to proportion and cut) soon came to be emblematic of the 1980s. The 101801 coat, designed in 1981, is perfect example of this. At first glance it seems so absurdly simple that it’s impossible to believe no one had come up with it yet. But her focus on a decidedly unfeminine top-heavy silhouette was fashion-forward at the time, eventually becoming symbolic of an entire decade’s sense of style.

Although it was arguably the most iconic, it was certainly not her only popular work. For Max Mara alone she crafted pieces, including outerwear and suits, that continued to place focus on ease in wear and emphasis on the shoulders. But unlike her contemporaries Claude Montana (who’s extremism didn’t always translate off the runway) or Giorgio Armani (who’s boxy cuts fell out of favor), Beretta’s restraint in design ensured that her work would have a timeless quality to it. Even if some of her silhouettes give off a retro vibe, it’s never in a way that feels costume-y.

Of course, her ’80s aesthetic (no matter how vaguely it comes through in her work) means that every so often when contemporary designers look back to the decade, likely they’re looking back to Beretta, too. For the past few seasons, references of her work can easily be seen in runway collections from the like of Marc Jacobs and Balenciaga. Luckily—thanks to the fact that the 101801 coat is Max Mara’s best selling style—one doesn’t have to scour vintage boutiques to find a genuine Beretta: they continue to be in production. It’s not only a safe bet for a fashionable wardrobe but also a classic staple that has influenced a generation of thinkers and makers.

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createdAt:Thu, 29 Mar 2018 17:16:10 +0000
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section:Fashion