Marni: Venus de Milo for the internet age
Often in the middle of a fashion season the audience seems almost frantic for a defiantly new fashion vision, desperate for something fresh and revolutionary, which is what they got in a rather brilliant show and collection by Francesco Risso for Marni on a sunny Sunday morning in Milan.
After four days largely devoted to respectful re-editions of many houses' DNA, it was great to see Risso set off on a bold new path. His starting point, the Venus de Milo, who appeared in multiple forms in some striking silk prints, jumbled up with photos of classical architecture, statuary and ethnic polka-dots.
“I looked at the history of my purchases online and there were at least 10 Venus de Milo. And one finger puppet of Doctor Frankenstein, and I thought, ‘How about Dr Frankenstein bringing back to life the Venus de Milano?’ So it’s classicism and metamorphosis in progress. It’s living, breathing statues in dishevelment, or 3D Amazons, or Nereids lost in labyrinths. All creatures of a genetically modified Olympus,” said Risso, with all the highfalutin' fantasy talk of a true fashion creator.
Traditional dresses were revolutionized, like the 18th century pleated frocks, redone with ecru leather bustiers; or dresses trimmed with combinations of fur, tinsel, baubles and chains; or Grecian goddess party frocks cut at bewildering angles and trimmed with small stones, just like the ones in the necklace the designer himself wore.
The cast sported gelled down hair; rock guitar-shaped sunglasses; Egyptian pharaoh’s wife’s eyeliner, and huge chain-link necklaces. They marched with proud authority, charged by the inventiveness of these clothes.
At times, the total effect was way too much, but you don’t create fashion drama without breaking a few codes. Plus, no one in Milan builds more suggestive sets than Risso, who sat his entire audience on over a hundred, well-made beds – Art Deco, country house, hospital ward, school dormitory, you name it.
“Intimacy,” smiled the designer who trotted in and out to receive some deafening applause.
Even under his esteemed predecessor, Consuelo Castiglioni, Marni broke lots of rules – it was the first brand to offer men’s leggings as a stand-alone item. But nothing quite prepared us for this fashion insurrection.
Hence, it is deeply ironic to open the Wikipedia page on Marni, which makes no mention of Risso, at all. Maybe the next time someone in the company purchases something online, they might organize an update? Apart from that, Risso’s reign at Marni is proving to be a highly fertile one.
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