Marni: Gathered narratives from around the globe
Marni went on fashion’s biggest long-distance video adventure this season, with a live online show on Friday afternoon that rambled around eight cities and four continents.
Named Marnifesto, it consisted of sixteen mini-screen Zoom-style videos shot with handheld cameras, mobiles and stationary positions. From the banks of the Lake St Clair in Detroit to parks in London; from downtown New York lofts to back streets in Dakar, all the way to suburban train stations near Milan.
Masked youths in menswear clambered up ramps in London parks, dressed like some County Lines gang, in oversized hoodies with giant paint-splattered lettering. What one could glimpse looked very clever – like the patchwork wrap coat cut in vertical shards seen on a raven-haired lass getting a lift in a mini-auto in Milan.
There were also glimpses and snatches of cheesecloth or toile stapled together in instinctive and raw shapes. Plus, multiple leather coats embossed with poetry, or jackets where printed words became like camouflage or flowers.
Since September 11, Marni began sending the 48 looks out to models, artists and friends to wear in this "show," fitting them online, but largely letting the cast choose their own setting and mood.
The only trouble was that it was petty darned hard to see many actual clothes, the images were small and the angles so obtuse. One had a better vision of the owner’s cats or a wee terrier than the clobber. And one heard a lot of wind noise too.
Marni’s designer Francesco Risso and partner Lawrence Steel spent the lockdown working in their apartment near Parco Sempione in Milan.
"It was great in beginning but after a few weeks really oppressive. This feeling of a being in deserted city. That energy was drowning us in negativity," conceded Risso, in a pre-show Zoom with FashioNetwork.com.
As a result, instinctively his feelings and emotions grew more in the direction of Marni’s DNA, which is tactile, sensorial and emotional. And, in their separate spaces in confinement his team began making things from curtains and dyeing material in bathtubs. That and writing love letters to each other and to artists that collaborate with Marni.
"So when we went back to office and were all together there was so much energy and skills to share and that was really beautiful," he recalls of the reunion in May.
"This collection is almost hard to talk about in terms of clothes. It’s not about making a statement, more a story of people and dialogue," he stressed.
In the end, the conversations overtook the clothes. What was left were touching speeches by multiple young artists but little real insight into fashion. Impossible to appreciate on a phone, no wonder Risso watched it on a big screen in a cinema with his team.
When he is in the creative zone, Francesco Risso is one of the half-dozen most original designers operating in fashion today. It was just that this Marnifesto left viewers with little evidence of that fact.
"This will evolve during the live show, as we really don’t know what the fuck is going happen. I wanted gathered narratives to express the multifaceted canvas that is Marni," said Risso, who certainly produced the narratives but maybe not that much of a fashion canvas.
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