Marni offers Milan a moment of communion and pure fashion
Bringing everyone together in the same creative élan: this was the mad project that Francesco Risso managed to pull off at Milan Fashion Week on Saturday, orchestrating a memorable show that offered the Lombard capital a moving moment of communion and pure fashion. For his return to the runway, the designer wanted to throw out the rule book and break down barriers by dressing everybody in Marni. And that's just what he did.
Besides the models, the house's collaborators, technicians and seamstresses, as well as the artists participating in the show, special guests, stars, friends of the brand, and journalists all wore jackets, pants or cotton coats that had been reclaimed from Marni's stock and repainted by hand with thick vertical stripes, each piece bearing a large label with a red border which read "Marniphermalia."
Each guest also had their face half-covered by a striped scarf from the house, which not only hid their masks but also made everyone look alike, as though integrated into a single community. In order to set this enormous plan in motion, the runway's approximately 500 guests were invited to the OTB-owned brand's showroom for a fitting a few days before the event. Suffice to say, it all implied gargantuan levels of organization.
Everything came together on Saturday evening, in a circular theater constructed like a makeshift life raft from planks of wood. The catwalk was a spiraling walkway leading the models in a never-ending circuit that accompanied the rows of seats where spectators were sitting, wearing striped clothing just like them. The show's musicians were the first to descend this structure with their instruments and take their place in the arena. Then the singers positioned themselves at different points around the space, standing upright among the audience members.
The circular motion continued naturally with the entrance of the models, who made up an incredibly diverse cast, including men and women of all ages, sizes and backgrounds. They stepped on and off the central runway, before heading in the opposite direction, in a continuous back and forth. Among them, Rizzo himself had slipped onto his own runway incognito, walking barefoot and wrapped in an XXL scarf with thin stripes that flowed down to the floor. Here and there, one could also make out other familiar faces, including that of Italian rapper Ghali.
The designer chose two main themes for this Spring/Summer 2022 collection: "stripes, which are used throughout, create meaning, connect things together," and daisies, "which grow resiliently, disconnecting and reconnecting." There were therefore a lot of thick, graphically impactful pop stripes, seen in two-tone outfits in black and white, but also in tones of yellow, blue, white and red. These two-tone stripes were particularly present in spiral constructions, making it look as though the fabric had been wrapped around the body in the case of one figure-hugging dress.
Risso notably reinterpreted the classic marinière top, transforming it into an ample blue and white poncho-tunic with large panels of striped fabric that had been sewn together. Daisies also recalled the fun iconography of the 1970s, channeling a spirit that was simultaneously "peace and love" and Hawaiian. Gigantic versions of the flowers appeared on some pieces, while elsewhere they were peppered across pants and bodysuits to create dainty little white patterns.
Different colors of daisy were also assembled to create bouquet-like skirts and minidresses, while one giant white flower decorated the front of a silk pyjama suit with navy and golden-orange stripes. As for the shoes, they definitely won the prize for the most desirable accessory of the season. They were all woven and painted, socks included, to exactly replicate the classic footwear pieces of top brands, from moccasins with chains to black canvas sneakers with white laces.
A few moments of pure emotion punctuated the performance staged by Risso and Babak Radboy, as, for example, when poet Mykki Blanco took the mic in order to recite one of her texts, or when singer Zsela performed the first note of a melancholic tune – almost a spiritual chant – by composer Dev Hynes, accompanied by the warm voices of the choristers spread around the showspace.
A final turn around the runway and the applause exploded. Everyone, models and audience alike, clapped and rushed together at the center of the stage to embrace each other. The emotion was palpable.
After a year and half of pandemic, this collective experience, where everyone could take part in the project, seemed to give a new meaning to fashion. While most houses have returned to their usual High Mass-like runway shows as though nothing has happened, Risso looks to be the only designer in Milan who decided to change his approach and propose a new way of thinking.
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