Entertaining At Home With Marta Ferri
This party season was always going to look a bit different, but for Marta Ferri it’s all about finding new ways to celebrate. As she launches her entertaining-at-home capsule, the designer shares her hosting secrets and tips for making the most of the holidays this year.
This is an article from the Matches site.
Interview by Shona Wallace. Photographs by Matteo Carassale.
Staying in is the new going out – it may not be by choice, but there is still a certain charm to be found in spending a usually hectic party season at home with loved ones. This optimistic outlook has helped Italian designer Marta Ferri navigate the challenges of the year. ‘This year is not going to be about parties, it is about being together and celebrating the fact that we have a beautiful family,’ she tells MATCHESFASHION. ‘I will dress up and cook just for us. This is going to feel different, but it is a great opportunity to appreciate what we have.’
This ethos is the motivation behind Ferri’s latest collection, which could be described as partywear for the new normal. ‘The inspiration was the need for a celebratory mood. We know 2020 is not going to be a party year, but we don’t want to give up all our beautiful holiday rituals,’ she says. ‘I wanted to create a collection of dresses that you can wear at home without feeling out of place or uncomfortable, but that still gives you that party vibe.’ Comprising elegant dresses in colourful, uplifting prints, complete with matching face masks and tableware, the capsule is ideal for entertaining at home – something Ferri has always enjoyed, even more so this year.
‘My life has deeply changed. I have learned how to enjoy little things, making the best out of what we have. This period, besides all the difficulties that we have experienced, was also very stimulating,’ says Ferri, who lives in Milan with her husband and their two young children. ‘We had to learn how to work, live and have fun from our own homes. My creativity and enthusiasm were at first compromised, but after a while something changed and opened new doors. I went back to my primordial priorities: the contact with nature, the pleasure of cooking and making home as warm and liveable as possible.’ Living in Milan – one of the first European cities to go into full lockdown – Ferri has adapted to taking each day as it comes. ‘We try our best to work, be positive and live in the most natural way possible. We take all precautions and hope to get through this soon,’ she says. ‘I personally try to live day by day without making any plans for the near future. Stay in the moment and focus on what we have today.’
All grand plans are on pause for the moment, but the very simple things – like intimate dinner parties with friends and family and escaping to their home in the Italian countryside – are Ferri’s way of keeping the spirit of the festive season alive. ‘In a different time, I would have missed travelling, but as we have two little children I wouldn’t have gone far anyway,’ she explains. ‘Instead, I will focus on decorations and creating an atmosphere.’ As any host knows, atmosphere is, of course, key to a great dinner party; an art Ferri has perfected over the years. ‘For the perfect atmosphere, I light lots of candles in the water and I turn on the fireplace, so the dining room is barely lit,’ she explains. ‘I will put on some music, of course –not too loud but not too quiet – and serve a strong aperitivo to start with.’
Entertaining friends and family with an evening of delicious food, wine and endless conversation is part of Italian culture, and Ferri’s dinner parties are something of a tradition. ‘I usually repeat the same menu every year – my friends always wait for it,’ she says. ‘A big cut of parmesan cheese, dates, clementines, lots of chocolate, marron glacé and a giant panettone. The remaining dishes are polpettone, three different kinds of pasta, some vegetarian rolls and two cheese platters.’ The food is important, but the company even more so. ‘People are always the key,’ she says. ‘I like to eat quickly and stay at the table as much as we can – chats after dinner at the dinner table are always the best.’
When it comes to décor, there are no set rules – it is all about being creative and experimenting to create a more relaxed aesthetic. ‘I love to steal objects from all around the house to set the table differently every time,’ explains Ferri. ‘I set a theme in colour, and I follow with candles, tablecloth and napkins.’ To make life easier for first-time hosts, her new collection features tablecloths, napkins and napkin ties in two striking prints – leopard and a festive red-and-white Tyrolean print, inspired by the historical Alpine region in Austria and northern Italy. There are relaxed dresses to match and, of course, coordinated face coverings. ‘I love wearing strong, happy pieces with friulane,’ she says of her go-to outfit when hosting, namechecking the traditional Venetian gondolier slippers. ‘The shoes are the key – you can exaggerate a bit more with the rest. I wear no make-up; just lipstick, and there is no trace of a hairdresser!’
Effortless, relaxed and uplifting – Ferri believes that dinner parties are the perfect way to make the most of the holiday season and spread a little joy. ‘I love seeing my home alive, seeing friends moving around the house naturally and overhearing them laughing,’ she says. ‘This year, it is going to be our only option for celebrations and it better be good! Just very few close friends and the warmest atmosphere possible.’
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