Some people have all the luck – and others make their own. You’d be hard pressed to figure out in which category to slot Marianna Goulandris, not that she’d want to be ‘slotted’.
Let’s start with the first.
I’d seen the pictures and so it was no surprise to come face to face with an elfin blonde who may have stepped off the pages of a fairy tale. Then, there is the pedigree…
Marianna is often described as a ‘shipping heiress and granddaughter of Marianna Vardinoyannis, UNESCO ambassador and leading international figure’, which of course she is. The very young swimwear designer and entrepreneur seems to tick every box in category 1. Lest you are tempted to stop there and dismiss her as just another polished heiress, read on.
She is fortunate to have a studio flooded with natural light atop the Goulandris family-owned period building in St James’ Park but she does pay rent for it. She looks younger than her age and the touch of vulnerability, combined with a very structured approach to her ‘baby’, the eponymous swimwear brand she started and is building up, is easily her most attractive feature.
Our chat revolves around the swimwear range, the new look collection and her vision for its future. She is still feeling out the market – there is, after all, only so much you can do with a swimsuit – bu seems to know, almost instinctively, how she can stand out in the crowded fashion space.
Her range already includes some accessories but she is adding to these substantially for the next season. I admired a white crocheted straw Stetson and asked her to put it on – she wears it well because she has likely designed it for herself. Yet it also captures the men’s hats for girls trend of the moment.
We talk about the generation thing – less than youthful/less than perfect bodies have to be catered for too if a brand is to thrive – and she is very aware, very attuned. She tells me she fits her designs on size 12 models when she works on them – if they look good on an average size woman, they’d inevitably look good on a size 0 too.
Her signature piece is a corsetlike swimsuit with gold fasteners upfront – a strong brand ambassador for the ‘Goddess’ tier of the range. Much has been made in the press about the Greek influence in her designs and fabrics. It is there, to be sure (some of the swimsuits have very fetching metal accessories that are unmistakably ‘Greek mythology’), but what I liked most is the reinterpretation of a number of retro elements (wide gathered cups tops, suspender like tummy straps) and the asymmetrical floaty skirts and dresses she is working on for the new season.
Nor is she stopping there… she has ideas about a make-up range, a men’s range, a beach shoes range, a bag range – and it dawns one me that she is, in fact, developing an entire beach lifestyle brand and philosophy all of her own.
Her grand-mother is a leading philanthropist and has founded a hospital for young cancer victims. Marianna has developed an affinity with the young girls there (or it must surely be the other way round) and has created a dress for a 12-year old. She is talking of taking over from her grand-mother at some point and I can see how her youthful and relaxed style would be a hit with the young patients.
She is, for all that, a thoroughly modern London girl, driven and determined to make it in her own right. Long gone are the days when heiresses did little other than sit pretty and marry well.
Marianna Goulandris quite literally ‘walks in beauty’, making her own way and her own luck, and B Beyond wishes her all the very best along that road.