Carolina Castiglioni’s Successful Plan C

It’s been almost officially two years since Carolina Castiglioni launched her brand Plan C, in 2018. 

A true Milanese maven like no other and part of the Marni royal family (her mother Consuelo launched Marni in 1994 as a ready-to-wear extension of the family’s historic fur company originally founded in the 1950s), Castiglioni used to be Marni’s Director of Special Projects and organised events such as Marni’s Flower Market before leaving and transitioning into the role of creative director of her newly-launched brand. 

“Transitioning from job to job wasn’t too difficult, as even my previous role was very creative. It was, however, based on putting together and creating communication projects from a creative point of view,” she mused. “The least common denominator is the fact that I was and I currently am doing things that I love. I was always lucky to be able to follow my instincts and able to personally assess what might work or what might be interesting to me. The same approach applies to Plan C, as the situation in which I work has widened because it relates to a company and not the individual event.”

And it is exactly this instinctive approach that makes the brand so personable, a mix and match of elements that should be able to be worn every day and should make women feel at ease from morning to night. After all, Castiglioni designs thinking about herself, her needs and her habits, and then moving forward much by instinct and intuition. All of the pieces, she explains, are special in their own way by form and fabric, however, everything is perfectly wearable.

For Castiglioni, fabrics are always the starting point of her collections. She begins by looking at a variety of textiles, delving into research that can take many days before deciding what fabrics will be part of her next collection. And as this is a process that takes a lot of time, it is also the reason why Plan C, unlike many brands nowadays, showcases only two collections per year, with a focus on slow production and Made In Italy. The next step is, of course, to draw the patterns to make it magically work altogether, but once the fabric selection is sorted, her instincts pave the way. 

Over the past two years, the brand hasn’t really developed extensively, design-wise speaking, as the evolution concerns more the development of the accessories. “The first collection had a few bags and shoes to complete the looks, while now we are working on increasingly developing the selection. In the beginning, the bags were, in fact, canvas bags which included drawings of two characters my daughter had invented, while from last season we started introducing more serious, classic leather bags. I really like this contrast, of having a very serious bag paired with a less serious dress,” explained Castiglioni. 

For her latest collection presented in a garage during Milan Fashion Week, Castiglioni staged a presentation whose theme played with shadows. Small, very minimal theatre sets the scene and torches for a game of play for shadows between the models and the objects. Castiglioni reveals that this collection was indeed a very personal one to her, as she chose to recreate miniatures taken from her home to emphasize her family-work-children link. 

This season, she presented a collection that was an evolution of her previous designs, a collection characterised by super refined fabrics, both Italian and Japanese of the highest quality and contrasting colour pairings. Castiglioni has always had a knack for combining colours which may look strange together, but somehow work and this season she emphasised this idea even more by mixing oranges and purples, reds and teals, stripes and florals, polka dots and Prince of Wales checks. Castiglioni also stressed that another important element of the collection was the continuity of the garments: although all of the looks were paired stylistically, the idea was the fact that many of the silhouettes of each of the pieces presented had been repurposed in new materials or new colours and can be worn multiple times, not being specifically seasonal garments. 

Yet, after the success of this collection, what does the brand have in plan for the future? 

“My brand is very popular with the Asian market, so I travel to Tokyo often, where we have a shop and we’ll be opening up shop in Seoul after we’ll be able to travel again,” Castiglioni said. “And other than the various pop-ups we organize yearly with our various partners, we are also going to launch a special project dedicated to sports, in the year of the Olympic Games in Japan, a capsule collection with drawings reinterpreted by an artist, who will be reworking two of our iconic characters by drawing them while doing various sports.”

Being so connected to her family and involving her daughter Margherita in her design process, one would think Castiglioni would want to delve into childrenswear design. However, that is not in the plans and neither is menswear. Surprising, considering she has revealed that a great number of the clients of her Tokyo store are men. 

“Many of the lines and forms of my womenswear collection are inspired by menswear, however, because I design instinctively thinking about myself, If I were to design for a man, it wouldn’t be so simple and instinctive and I wouldn’t think it would work,” she concluded. 

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