"I can make anything in an hour and a half," admitted Marco Morante, the wunderkind behind MarcoMarco. There's no bragging in his voice, only a nonchalant modesty. Which is surprising since the 'anything' he refers to includes gem-encrusted red carpet gowns for Fergie, cupcake bikini tops for Katy Perry and silver sequin minis so fierce they almost make Ke$ha look thin.
Commitment to extreme couture defines MarcoMarco, Morante's design studio nestled in the heart of Hollywood. For the past decade, his creative team The House of Infinite Radness has conjured up one-of-a-kind pieces for the likes of Lil Wayne, Nikki Minaj, Black Eyed Peas and seven seasons of American Idol. MarcoMarco is the go-to boutique when stylists require a unique garment made fearlessly and, most importantly, fast.
Morante's propensity for 'fast fashion' traces back to his nascent CalArts days.
"I started out as a party favor," confessed Morante with a laugh. "Friends would bring me to parties and I'd bring my sewing machine. People would tell me what they wanted and I'd make it. 'What you want? Underwear? Here you go. Next!"
Marco has significantly evolved since his nomadic adolescent days. He's upgraded from single sewing machine to an entire fully equipped workshop that comprises about half of the MarcoMarco space. The other half serves as a showroom. Available to stylists and other industry professionals by appointment only, the showroom flaunts bedazzled bustiers, shimmering mesh dresses and razor-studded sneakers.
"They're literal shit-kickers," Morante joked about the shoes, "You can really kick the shit out of someone in those."
The hidden treasure of MarcoMarco is its store room, a Scrooge McDuck money bin jammed with Morante's completed clothing. From high heels to Hindu headdresses, every item has already been successfully photographed or strutted down a red carpet. Now they hang patiently in this oversized closet, waiting to be requested again. Until then, they serve as a testimony to the talents of Morante and his House of Infinite Radness.
Humble Morante is the first to admit that MarcoMarco's success would be impossible without the aid of his creative team. Besides Marco, The House of Infinite Radness is headed by designers Ashton Michael, Emilie Odeile and Jenifer Sindon. Collecting Los Angeles' most cutting edge stylists and artists, their mission "is to flood the industry with beautiful irreverent work pushing L.A. to the edge of art and fashion."
Are they succeeding? MarcoMarco's work speaks for itself. It's difficult to watch a music video or award show without spotting their handiwork. In "California Gurls," a neon-tressed Katy Perry and her dancers sport cream-frosted bikinis to match their Daisy Dukes-style bootie shorts, compliments of MarcoMarco. Last year, when Ke$ha threw a secret Myspace concert, she lived up to her Animal title by rocking a zebra print catsuit, courtesy of MarcoMarco. Wardrobe for recent Lil Wayne, Black Eyed Peas and Fergie tours were all designed by—well, you get the point. And that's not even mentioning the countless television shows, commercials and private events Morante and his comrades styled. If their goal is to be omnipresent, they are succeeding.
Not too bad for a kid that began with nothing more than a sewing machine and celerity.