Marni Takes Risks for Fall/Winter 2016 and the Rewards Are Huge

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Marni's thoughtful, artistic collection for Fall/Winter 2016 extends the fashion conversation beyond mere clothing.

When you think of conceptual designers who have tattooed their names forever on art’s fashion arm, you think of Rei Kawakubo, Hussein Chalayan, Alexander McQueen, Yohji Yamamoto, and Martin Margiela. In case you’ve overlooked Marni’s Consuelo Castiglioni, add her to the list. Her particular knack for reappropriating historical styles and reimagining them according to her specific talent for geometric shape and abstract pattern interplay has always flown under the radar. As more brands focus on consumer-facing collections, designers who are willing to take risks are the purveyors of true fashion. The rest of them? They’re really just stylists.

However, taking fashion risks and deploying conceptual themes does not render Castiglioni’s collections unwearable (a problem other visionaries like Viktor & Rolf tend to run into). In fact, her artful propositions are embedded with desirable qualities, enough so that while you may not quite understand what you’re looking at, your instant response is to want to put it on your body. What does that smooth camel cape that opened the show feel like when it’s on? Does it restrict the movement of the arms as it comes down over the shoulders to embrace the elbows? Or does it feel like you’re getting a hug? Most clothes don’t make us ask questions, but Marni’s collection involves tacit reactions.

Photo: Courtesy of Imaxtree

As is apparent from the outset, Castiglioni is obsessed with rounded shapes for Fall/Winter 2016. Parabola curves, rounded tailoring, balloon sleeves, and sloping shoulders soften her stark, minimalist fabrics into enticing silhouettes. Roundness was also acknowledged in multi-colored transparent discs that cropped up across the chests of Marni’s later looks, clinging to surfaces like alien barnacles.

Although there is something familiar to her work – maybe even something reminiscent of the Tudor era’s love of exaggerated proportions – Castiglioni’s creations were refreshingly modern. For example, her stirrup-footed jodhpurs (which sound bizarre on paper), with their lightly seamed surfaces and tabbed closures, were instantly the hottest new trouser shown at Fashion Week. A costume-y, balloon-sleeved top was transformed into a serious style statement when paired with a smooth black vest, while a khaki green safari “shirt-dress” was a utilitarian counterpoint to a glamorous shaved mink pullover. Prints were also abstract in nature, but familiar in the sense that you could guess that they might have started out as a harlequin check before being transmuted by digital distortion. Or maybe they weren’t even prints at all, but flat embroidery that was employed to resemble a spray paint print on the torsos of solemn houndstooth suits and dresses.

Never has Castiglioni’s work been more precise and desirable than it is for Fall/Winter 2016.

If you ever chance to flip through Marni’s archives, you can see the brand’s transformation from a haute bohemian party girl to artistically serious risk taker unfold before your eyes, and the movement forward for the brand has everything to do with Castiglioni’s eye for shapes in both the silhouettes that experimentation can render and the shadows cast by negative space. Never has her work been more precise and desirable than it is for Fall/Winter 2016.

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