Happening. Marni SS22

Francesco Risso‘s spring-summer 2022 fashion show for Marni was actually a happening – which in art terms is defined as an theatrical event, often with elements of dada and surrealism. The name was first used by the American artist Allan Kaprow in the title of his 1959 work 18 Happenings in 6 Parts which took place in 1959 in New York. Happenings typically took place in an environment created within the gallery and involved light, sound, a multitude of sensations and the audience’s participation. To an extent, Risso checked all the points, redefining and expanding the concept with, of course, fashion. In the days leading up to the show, the designer and his team conducted fittings for 400 people. The models got the new spring collection, while the show’s performers and guests wore upcycled cotton separates hand-painted with colorful stripes. Risso grew discouraged by the digital focus of the job during the lockdowns. His idea, he explained, “was about going back to the practice of what we do, which is making clothes for people, one to one.” He said the process was just as significant to him as the final result. But, oh, what a final result. All season, we’ve been waiting for a designer who was up for the hard but necessary work of addressing the last year-and-a-half of pandemic and racial justice reckoning. Who acknowledged the changes the world has gone through in our mutual isolation, and, in turn, changed the way they do things. For the “fashion happening”, Risso invited Dev Hynes for the music; the poet Mykki Blanco did a spoken word performance; the singer Zsela was joined by a heavenly sounding choir. On the program notes, Babak Radboy, who’s known for his work with Telfar Clemens, shared creative direction. The cast had the racial diversity, body inclusivity, and gender fluidity.

The spring collection’s two main motifs were stripes and daisies. Sometimes, the simplest ideas are the most effective. “Stripes are strongly associated with direction, where daisies are new beginnings and resilience; they’re banal concepts,” Risso said. But in a palette of blues and yellows, they weren’t boring. Navigating a spiral seating arrangement before reversing the circle on a central stage, the models wore slinky bias dresses in graphic rugby stripes, color-blocked blazers, Breton stripe ponchos, easy woven caftans, and shaggy cardigans and shawls, one of which was modeled by Risso himself: everyday clothes with a feeling of the hand. And then came the daisies, which felt more eccentric: naively embroidered on signature Marni shapes, intarsia’d on trompe l’oeil knits, and on the striking final look, hand-painted on a floor-length T-shirt dress. “I kept thinking about sports, not because the collection has references to sports in its details, but because of how teams work – that union,” said Risso. “At the end of the day, who is our trainer? It’s our heartbeat, it synchronizes everyone.” As the models circled the crowd at the finale and Szela sang Dev Hynes’s moving original composition “Guide You Home,” the audience erupted in applause. It went on for some time.

Collage by Edward Kanarecki.

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