There’s a lot of jokes and bad puns that can be made from Francesco Risso’s Spring/Summer 2019 collection for Marni, but I’ll make the most obvious: don’t sleep on the man. In the two years since the Italian joined the brand from Prada as Consuelo Castiglioni stepped down, Risso has been slowly but steadily finding his footing. Marni is a beloved women’s brand. It’s the kind of women’s brand for the kooky, creative, and eccentric lady. It’s the stick-your-tongue-out counterpart to the rigour of, say, Prada. So it was a happy moment when Risso sent out a cute and quirky show that springed off that Marni ethos.
Anyway, about that sleep pun. The audience of the morning show were seated on beds, double posters, singles, the like. It was a cute setting, and part of the mildly off-kilter sensibility Risso has been cultivating in his work. The connection to the collection itself is a little tenuous, but let’s roll with the idea of daydreams at work.
Because it was an artist’s sort of daydream that Risso played with. Art, collage, scrapbook – that sort of work-in-progress rawness of the creative process. In previous collections, the designer has had a habit of celebrating the unfinished. Here, quite literally, were a whole array of skirts and dresses with unfinished hems, threads hanging for effect. It was an evocation, thusly, of a kind of image of the Marni woman at work and in her element.
Print has been a longstanding strength of the brand, and this collection used collages of statues to create an abstract sense of the body plastered all over. It was romantic in a European antiquities and classics way, dressed up with a range of gently architectural silhouettes and construction styles to mirror the statuary motifs. A little touch I loved were statues on these prints circled in a very hand-drawn style, looking very much like favoured references in a documented development. Quite noteworthy, too, were the louche leather coats in supple suede or leather with hand-painted splotches. It’s a little gesture, but it gave the garments a painterly and artistic effect.
It was also interesting that this collection suggested a new kind of sleepy daytime glamour. This came through in a section of looks that combined silky tops with a reflective finish and long, draped jersey skirts that looped back up over the shoulder to make a sort of quasi Grecian toga. The textural contrast and sensuality of the silhouette were a nice surprise. The rest of the collection hewed closer to the established Marni shape – wider from the body, and unconstricted.
And lastly, the moneymakers. The season’s bags had very nice linked chains that looked like antique jewellery. It contrasted nicely with the shapes of the bags themselves, which were mostly very straightforward and leaned on slim. These looked like document bags, but in the context of Risso’s collection it might be better to imagine them housing portfolios and sketchbooks. There was also a very charming tote in a cognac-hued snakeskin. Boxy, structured, and fixedly unfussy. These were very modern accessories with spirit and charm. And, of course, there were the massive Marni necklaces and earrings. An editor once called them ‘shoebox accessories’ – as in, you need shoeboxes to keep them in – and this season’s chief items of quirk came as head and arm-less statues cast in metallic blue and gold to be worn on a ear, or around the neck or waist.
Risso’s Marni isn’t bonkers or over the top, but it’s got a very carefully considered artistic sensibility. I love it because it isn’t haughty or snooty, and his designs invite you into a world. Think of it as an artist’s studio, perhaps, where things are a little too messy but warm nonetheless. Where a bit of paint has splashed onto everything so the place has an accidental cohesion. Where the artist lazes and lounges, head in the clouds, only to jump up to run to the canvas. Maybe that explains the beds.