Francesco Risso’s Marni show for his autumn-winter 2022 collection, an ode to the handmade, the mended, the crafted and the tailored, was somehow fitting in the current, violent circumstances. The show’s guests definitely felt a feeling of anxiety once they saw the venue: barely lit cavernous space, fit for a rave, the entrance shrouded in foliage, enormous concrete breeze blocks where a runway would usually be, and yet more foliage framing this picture of dystopian revelry. Last season’s show, set to a soundtrack by the genius Dev Hynes and art directed by the equally genius Babak Radboy (both Dev and Babak were involved in this season’s proceedings too) was a joyful, cathartic gathering, bringing people together as physical shows returned. Then Risso offered a moving and sincere treatise on events in the fashion world an captured the moment beautifully. This time round, Risso was questioning what’s next, according to the emailed show notes. “The future came and went, leaving us alone, but together in the dark, but lighter than before,” Risso wrote. “Where do we go after? Where are we bound, beyond what binds us to each other?”
It’s become a thing for fashion to speak of community, but with Risso’s casting, it was a disparate and unconnected band of individuals who made their way via flashlight around the venue; nothing slickly and self-consciously unified about this group, wearing looks from autumn 2022 that suggested communality: anyone could be wearing anything – and who cares? They might be in dresses in washed mottled pastels which had then been patched or cut into strands or glistened with beads; long shearling coats wrapped on the bias across the body, as much naive gesture as practical fastening; irregularly checked (and snappily cut) pantsuits; full skirted deb dresses, overdyed, as if tried at home and then gone a bit wrong, but in a good way; and raggedy sweater sleeves trailing to the floor from under the cuffs of trad Crombie coats. Almost everyone was bearing some kind of crown of twine and twigs, or elaborate head wraps, which were actually jackets folded and twisted, as if in preparation for some magical, arcane ceremony (you can always on Julien d’Ys to deliver amazing headwear). Risso himself appeared in the show, his now dirty platinum hair surmounted by a fine pair of tiny horns. That he walked speaks volumes; a denial of the idea that designers have some divinely ordained remove from the same shit and the same joy that the rest of us are going through. His Marni has increasingly shifted – and now, with this show and the last, decisively so – into a world less of fanciful fashion remove, but instead reflective of all the ecstasy and confusion and disillusionment and love and kinship that we can all recognize and empathize with. It’s a pretty brave step, to not want to just keep offering up a familiar and reassuring idea of what a high-end brand can do, retreading the same ground, especially at a time when the fashion industry, despite proclaiming the need for change, has snapped back to business as usual pretty darn quick. In the end of the show, those wandering around in the dark eventually found the light. They came out blinking into the bright and glorious Milanese sunlight to an Alice in Wonderland Mad Hatter’s tea party, long tables set up in the rough hewn industrial courtyard, their tops groaning with fruit tarts and elaborate cakes and jello in hallucinogenic shades. Risso’s cast milled around, ate, laughed, chatted and hung out. Hopefully, our future will look as carefree as this moment.
Collage by Edward Kanarecki.