Partners in life and work, they are developing a personal archive including, in addition to clothing and design items, a few thousand shoes. A virtual and physical hub to promote a deeper understanding of fashion

[On the cover: Roberta and Antonio Murr]

After 30 years of experience as style consultants and working in fashion, Antonio and Roberta, known to everyone as the Murrs, have an innovative vision of the industry at a time when fashion is undergoing substantial change and needs to be approached with great consciousness and expertise. “We feel like Don Quixote fighting windmills,” they say of themselves, “We are supporting the new generations forgotten by so many in Italy, because our country does not invest in young people. We try to involve and support their creativity and start-ups on many different levels: production, coordination, and finance, through different funding organisations, thus acting as signallers’. A role that suits Antonio more, while Roberta takes care of the creative direction, although it is difficult to consider their synergetic and complementary skills separately. As demonstrated by the recent project they are working on: “In 30 years of work we have built up a massive archive of garments and accessories, bringing together our research across the globe and our personal passions. “For example,” Roberta says, “my first pair of YSL fuchsia pumps that I bought when I was 14 and keep in the original box, or the jewel sandal designed by Giuseppe Zanotti for Beyoncé, and many other vintage pieces from our coolhunting and shopping around the world. Today we have decided to develop this archive, located in Bergamo, which includes garments, accessories and design items from the 40s and 50s to the present day‘. Antonio continues: “The idea comes from the realisation that young people need to read up on fashion and see first-hand how the garments are structured. So the archive becomes an invaluable source of knowledge for them, but we also target stylists, costume designers, film and theatre productions, or private individuals who can rent the various products we are shooting online to create a digital as well as a physical archive. After so many years, we now want to work on projects generating long-term value, which go beyond mere consultancy’.

Shoes from the archive

And here is another beautiful project that borders on art: “We are organising a contemporary art festival in Isili, Sardinia, involving some of our international artist friends who work closely with local artisans to create site-specific works that stay in the area even after the festival. It is therefore a project creating and adding value to the area, engaging with its community’. A synergy runs through fashion, culture and art – which often intersect in their work, albeit their passion and calling for fashion is the cornerstone and leitmotif of many TV programmes they have participated in. Even if their approach to fashion has changed now, as they explain.

What is your relationship with fashion today?

Roberta: for me it’s conflictual. Values have now changed and I pay special attention to sustainability; I can no longer accept certain fashion dynamics that disregard the environment.

Antonio: it is the same for me, my relationship with fashion has changed. People used to get into fashion because it was selling dreams, but then you grow up and your dreams are shattered and you realise that only the logic of budgets and turnovers is left. Designers are not able to impose their own vision, and the market prevails. Nevertheless, fashion will always mean freedom of expression for me and, although I have grown up, I still love to play with it as I did when I was a teenager: it is fundamental to be different and create one’s own identity even with garments. Today, standardisation is everywhere. People used to go to do research in New York or Paris, today they go to Seoul, Tokyo, places that still maintain their own uniqueness.

At this point, asking how many pairs of shoes are in your wardrobe is pointless, as you own an archive of 4/5,000 pairs. But how many do you buy per season?

Roberta: We have just bought three pairs of sneakers, which are our recent obsession, developed with our 18-year-old son. Of course, these also end up in the archives.

Antonio: Nowadays buying for me is either very thought out or very instinctive, spur-of-the-moment, even when it comes to shoes. But I buy much, much less than in the past. With Covid, we have realised the value of time, which made us dig into our wardrobes and rediscover long-forgotten items that are still relevant.

Where do you like to go shopping?

Roberta + Antonio in unison: in markets, shops.

 Do you still get satisfaction from going to the shops?

Antonio: I like it because you can do research and I am sure that people still want to choose, try, touch…..

Roberta: I like buying online because it saves time, but I get the added value of establishing a human relationship, especially in small shops where the owner becomes a consultant-friend.

Which shoes should not be missing in any wardrobe? 

Antonio: for women a classic black décolleté.

Roberta: for men a handmade lace-up, possibly made-to-measure, not for everyone. However, a timeless lace-up, I would say.

Of all the shoes you have on file, are there any you would like to throw away?  

Roberta + Antonio (still in unison): none, they are like one big family now.

What does “made in Italy” mean today?

Roberta: for me it stands for absolute quality and comfort, a key requirement for a shoe that should support the weight of your body. So for me investing in shoes is crucial, I would rather give up on garments, but I will not compromise on shoes.

Antonio: I agree and I would add that I hope that “made in Italy” will be preserved, since I feel its meaning is somehow being lost, but I trust the new generations.

Flavia Colli Franzone