Men’s – Apocalyptic Party. Marni AW20

The audience was directed to a cavernous dark space, trespassing similarly dark tunnels outlined with thin, colored neon lights. The tunnel opened onto a pitch-black space with a labyrinthine neon-lit floor layout, with barely perceptible human silhouettes scattered around. The audience was kept standing. The Marni troupe (which was actually a dance collective, directed by Italian choreographer Michele Rizzo) emerged in slow-motion from obscurity as if in hypnotic trance. Awakening from their sleepy state, the dancers started moving and swaying to trance music, holding onto their spots as if glued to them. Then they started moving about at a snail’s pace. Then the beat and the energy changed abruptly and the Marni-clad collective started marching about as if propelled by a sudden urge, circling around in manic mode, until the pace wound way down again. This was no longer a fashion show, but an art performance. No wonder why focusing on the clothes was challenging. But still, the show wasn’t here to conceal the clothes. The fashion repertoire was highly eclectic, as usual from Franceso Risso. Tailoring mixed with big, slouchy shapes. Coats were bisected, jackets were dilated, sweaters fragmented and juxtaposed. Scraps of fabric were pieced together in patchworks. Nothing seemed to make sense – yet all coalesced beautifully into Marni’s stylish madness. But there’s no Marni show without a piece of Risso narrative. “It’s a dance which takes us to the end of love. The end and the beginning of love. I was thinking about Edgar Allan Poe’s ‘The Masque of The Read Death’ and about Prince Prospero,” said the designer. The story goes that Prince Prospero locks himself in an abbey with a crowd of friends for a masquerade ball, attempting to escape the plague. The Red Death infiltrates the abbey with exterminating results. “Today it was our court of Prince Prospero’s noble friends dancing to the end of love and locked in our castle,” continued Risso. “They are a collective in a never ending party, wearing multiform uniforms… objects with a life of their own, heirlooms, something we have to protect.” It’s not the first time when the designer goes apocalyptic. Theory aside, back to the clothes: they were made from assemblages of old scraps of fabrics and leftovers of 1950s deadstock. Risso’s poetic way of addressing new methods of creating and producing clothes (recycling, upcycling, assembling, reusing!) is a consistent approach, which still seems to be missing at other luxury brands. A big yes to this collection.

Collage by Edward Kanarecki.

Sustainability At Its Best. Marni SS20

While one would think that the entire fashion industry wouldn’t really acknowledge the climate strike that happened across the world yesterday, it’s a relief to know there’s one designer who really cares. It’s Marni‘s Francesco Risso. Not only was the show’s setting considered in a sustainable way – guests sat on recompressed-cardboard benches under a recycled plastic jungle (made of reclaimed waste) – but also the new season clothes had a lot to do with this important topic. In his collection, Risso used upcycled textiles, organic cottons, and “recuperated” leathers in the most impressive ways. Balloon-smock tops paired with flared skirts, naive prints hand-painted by Francesco’s team, 1950s couture-inspired silhouettes that delivered a touch of eccentric elegance, chunky knits which hung asymmetrically. I also loved the fact that many of the pieces were aprons (that created an illusion of dresses) and were paired with full skirts. A novelty to try out next summer. All this was kept in a bold colour palette of orange, magenta and green, and was topped by Julien d’Ys’ incredible hair-styles that used dried flowers. Risso wanted to create a “joyous protestan homage to nature and our sense of humanity”, and he succeeded. It’s truly reassuring to see a major Italian brand putting sustainability as its priority. And makes it look so good!

Collage by Edward Kanarecki.

Men’s – Truman and Che. Marni SS20

Francesco Risso moved big topics in his spring-summer 2020 collection for Marni, but in his typical, poetic, metaphor-filled manner. A fishnet was hovering about the guests’ heads, full of plastic debris collected from the oceans and from waste. Called Act1, the show was a conscious approach to engage in a deeper conversation on ethical values and a sustainable fashion practice: “We are here today to confirm our position in the world and to move towards action,” said Risso. “Let’s be vocal about our beliefs.“The designer has been implementing sustainable thinking into the brand for the last few seasons, but this really was a statement that hopefully will bud into real consciousness at the Italian brand. Even though you could expect exhausted eco warriors walk down the runway, Risso sent down a line-up of looks that sparked joy. It was a marriage of Truman Capote and Ernesto Che Guevara, beauty and rebellion. Marni’s rebels wore fabulous, crazy ritual totem-hats, made by artist Shalva Nikvashvili outof stuff that could have been easily thrown away to the trash: scraps of paper, feathers, plastic, fur, leather. The clothes as well had sustainable origin, to some extent. They had a sense of carefreeness, but weren’t ridiculousor clown-ish. Safari suitsweresplashed with brushstrokes, and cashmere and alpacas were patchworked with plastic and brocades. It all blended into a rather non-chalantly elegant,layered wardrobethat would be the fitting uniform for the Truman and the Che in an ideallypeaceful, eco-utopia.But you know what? I can equally see those clothes being worn in real life.

Collage by Edward Kanarecki.

Positive. Marni Pre-Fall 2019

There’s always something very joyous and positive about Francesco Risso‘s approach to designing collections for Marni. For pre-fall 2019, which starts to hit the stores, he crashed prints and textures without much caution, creating a beautifully chaotic wardrobe for an equally unique personality. The utilitarian elegance of uniforms was translated into elongated dusters, sleek car coats and double-breasted peacoats in thick fabrics like felted and pressed bouclé, padded satin, polished leather, shearlings and ponyskins. Psychedelic brocades and Lurex jacquards were used in one blouse, while Inuit-inspired prints were mixed together in opera coats and skirts with half-plissé side panels. The recurring use of natural materials is a nod to the no-waste, responsible approach the designer emphasizes. I think Marni, with Risso’s folksy aesthic, can take a step forward and start making its collections from upcycled materials, too. And incorporate traditional artisans’ work into each collection. This would be a brilliant example for other Italian brands to follow.

Collage by Edward Kanarecki.

Angry. Marni AW19

Marni‘s Franceso Risso had a lot on his mind this season, which resulted in a rather chaotic collection. Chain belts, heavy boots, chokers, tattered finishings – this was the grungiest Marni you’ve ever seen. But was it convincing? Risso wanted to investigate the “limits of freedom”, as well as update the term ‘sensualism’. In this patchwork of gingham, pixelated prints, polished leather and fierce red, I rather saw some kind of teen aggression, but made fashion. It’s not a bad collection – but I feel like Francesco should have done something lighter, hope-sparking, or go all the way and do an Marni-esque version of 70s Westwood and McLaren. Well, we all have ups and downs, and knowing Risso’s talent, I can forgive this one.

Collage by Edward Kanarecki.