Spanish fashion designer
Born: Manuel Roberto Marino, Verin, Spain, May 1945. Education: Studied business and fine arts in Paris, mid-1960s. Family: Children: Cristina, Jose Manuel. Career: Left studies to take charge of parents' leather garments business, 1967; in 1970s, worked for MARPY Jeans; launched ready-to-wear collection for women, Roberto Verino; a year later, opened his first shop in Paris; introduced cosmetics line, 1993; collections represented in over 20 countries; specializes in
Mattioni, Marina, "Roberto Verino," in Donna (Milan), June 1990. "Consumer Goods Euro: Womenswear in Spain," in MarkIntel, 1 April 2000.
Roberto Verino is a Spanish designer who first trained in Paris before returning to take over the family leather clothing business in northern Spain. Throughout the 1970s he built a small concern into a prosperous local industry; then, in 1982, he launched his first collection of prêt-á-porter. His success was almost immediate, and year by
From the beginning, Verino has set himself the highest standards of artistry. He collaborated with well-known Spanish painter Xaime Quesada and as early as 1984 designed his prototype around the work of Joan Pere Viladecans for display at the Barcelona International Cotton Institute. In more recent years, designs for his new collections have been drawn by Arturo Elenor, whose style is similar to the British political cartoonist Gerald Scarfe, so that the fashion plates are not just design drafts but art in their own right.
As well as this strong accent on artistry, Verino makes clothes that are both practical and comfortable. To these ends, he looks to masculine fashion to create feminine clothes. All his designs are a clash of male and female—masculine lines, female detail, male fabrics, feminine cuts, masculine shape, feminine colors.
Verino prides himself on his use of cotton and linen, no longer, if ever, uniquely masculine fabrics, except that Verino prefers black, gray, and brown, pinstriped, flecked, or even tartan colors and patterns. Verino's favorite clothing is jacket and trousers, double-breasted, broad lapels, wide collars, neither cuffs nor turn-ups. Eschewing the traditional suit, the cut is pure feminine, the trousers fit snugly at the waist, then flare at the ankle or hug the waist in layers of wraparound fabric that sculpt the leg down to a tight ankle fit. The jackets have tailored waists and soft shoulders to enhance feminine profiles.
Comfort and practicality should never preclude stylishness, and it is the feminine detail of Roberto Verino's creations that make his work so original. Sparkling gems and brooches replace buttons, waistcoats shimmer and shine, shirts have full-flowing sleeves and lace collars, coats have satin linings, trousers and skirts are split high to reveal first ankle, tibia, and thigh. It would be wrong to give the impression Verino uses uniquely dark colors; he has, in fact, built entire collections around white, contrasting male versus female by mixing male form with female colors. His collection includes royal blue trousers and coats, poppy red double-breasted jackets, angel white suits, and yellow gold waistcoats. For all his use of masculine materials and his adoption of male styles, Verino's clothes are pure female.
If Verino's masculine fabrics pay homage to Giorgio Armani, he is by no means a satellite of this Italian designer. Armani's reinvention of male fashion inspired designers across Europe, but Verino's genius is to twist Armani's ideas into a uniquely feminine creation. Many other influences are also apparent; Verino takes a pinch of humor from Moschino, mixes and matches colors in the style of Christian Lacroix, and draws on the same sources of subtlety and sophistication as Sybilla and Claude Montana. Further geographic influences are readily apparent to northern Europeans: the delicate jeweled sandals straight out of a souk; the flowing gowns, high necklines, and modesty-preserving tops so reminiscent of heroines from Arabian Nights. The 1994 collection showed new influences from Asia and the Far East, square jackets, long lines, intricate toggle buttons, marvelous gold, red, and orange silks.
Verino's collections have been shown in Paris and Madrid, Barcelona and London, but his work is not uniquely haute couture as he designs for three markets. First is sport and urban, where he makes maximum use of male shapes to create practical styles for women; Look Comfortable is a younger line, with emphasis on comfort where miniskirts turn out to be shorts and blouses are long, light, and full. Espadrilles, rope, and canvas sandals are de rigueur. Finally comes his Night-time collection, where elegance meets comfort and seduction is inevitable. So reads the advertising copy, but it is clear Verino designs with a woman's wants as well as needs in mind. Back in 1993 Verino launched of a line of cosmetics. Together with his clothes, they are found in shops and boutiques in the UK, Germany, France, and Japan, making Verino a truly European designer.
—Sally Anne Melia;
updated by Mary Ellen Snodgrass