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.
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 protest, an 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.