Peter Marino is the garden-obsessed starchitect whose sense of style is so unflinching it’s become luxe utility – an ultimate uniform. When asked if any designer has allured him with their vision so much he’s toyed with giving up his famous biker garb, Marino quips: “Probably not. Although I’ve been lucky enough to receive some amazing custom leather pieces made for me by Dior and others over the years.”
It takes him from the most illustrious avenues to the open road after all, with six motorcycles in his garage: three Harleys, a Ducati, a Triumph and a KTM – “For now.”
Marino is the brain behind the most cosseting interiors of fashion’s upper retail echelon. If you’ve ever wanted to move straight into a Chanel boutique or if your chip-and-pin trigger finger has fired spontaneously in such an environment, it’s largely down to him.
“I’m blown away by the artistry of so many of the designers whose stores I design – Karl Lagerfeld at Chanel, Marc Jacobs at Louis Vuitton, Stuart Vevers at Loewe and am glad to see fashion being recognised for the art form that it is,” he elaborates. “The ultimate store should have light, space, comfort and humour. It should be an environment you want to spend time in, not one where you can’t wait to get out the moment you walk through the doors.”
There’s a conceptual satisfaction that this is what Marino would become esteemed for, having renovated Andy Warhol’s house and the third incarnation of the Factory as a youngster – shopping being the ultimate pop art after all.
“At the moment, I’m currently at work on a massive hotel/spa/retail development in Beirut,” Marino says, “which when completed will house the biggest urban spa, serviced apartment suites, and rooftop pools in the city.”
One thing you might not expect from the man who rates Marisa Berenson, Annette de la Renta, Marc Jacobs, Daphne Guinness and Kathy Rayner in the style stakes is a fixation with the historical, fancy. “I collect 19th Century French porcelain and 17th Century books on ‘royal parties’ – hilarious!” he says. It’s a volte-face to the most rock ‘n’ roll thing Marino’s ever done – “Being thrown from a bike going top speed on a mountain road in the American West; being airlifted to safety, torn ligaments and such. Although I wouldn’t recommend it.”
It’s Marino’s persona, which balances noise and speed with the art of couture, that makes him one of the most fascinating characters in fashion. Next time you see a catwalk look (or a gleaming handbag) step out of a boutique, hitting the reality of the pavement, think of him – he’s probably sweetened the deal.
TEXT DEAN MAYO DAVIES
PHOTOGRAPHY THOMAS LAGRANGE
PONYSTEP 03, SPRING/SUMMER 2012