Meet Marni’s New Art-Haus Aesthetic for Spring/Summer 2018

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If last season, you caught a whiff of something fresh and fun on the Marni runway – something that still felt in keeping with the blueprint established by Consuelo Castiglioni – you were noticing the work of the house’s new designer, Francesco Risso. Anticipation is always high when new leadership takes over, but it felt like Risso “got it” right away. Spring/Summer 2018, however, was an out-of-the-ballpark success. I found myself thinking, “Finally, someone with something to say.” And that someone isn’t necessarily promoting an intellectual purview, but rather a purely artistic one – one that you feel rather than know.

Risso seemed to say, “Here’s an idea of femininity that is different.”  It’s almost defiant, as if the designer was coloring way outside the lines of a traditional idea of womenswear, while still building on a foundation of classic silhouettes and accessible prints. He did this, quite literally, with oversized silhouettes that ballooned out away from the body.

That’s why so many looks had the feeling of paper doll costumes, like the one-piece bodice that floated over so many of Risso’s pleated maxi skirts and immense raver pants. And then to upholster it all in a traditional symbol of femininity – the flower – but in such a punch drunk, lurid way as to almost make the reference feel sarcastic. What fashion critic wouldn’t love this collection? It was smart, but never seemed pretentious.

Marni Spring/Summer 2018
Photo: Courtesy of Imaxtree

In fact, the Marni girl, under Risso’s guidance, is both adorably clumsy and tough as nails. She is definitely an art haus babe and also (probably) owns a Doberman pinscher and wears real diamonds to the grocery store. I’ll admit, the collection is fairly kitsch, but I think that’s where the appeal lies.

The Marni girl, under Risso’s guidance, is both adorably clumsy and tough as nails.

Many of the looks recalled damaged heroines like Miss Havisham and Little Edie from Grey Gardens, especially the looks that Frankenstein’d disparate elements together, like a rhinestone covered pink cocktail dress and a somber office sheath. It was also present in the way she wore those incredible dresses with a pair of galoshes, dressed up her eccentric attire in scribbly wire jewelry,  left the house in astonishing fur robes, and reappropriated oversized polos like a little girl playing dress-up in her older brother’s closet. Threads left to drip and dangle from every hemline, which also added to the déshabillé effect

Although a little madcap in design, these are clothes one still needs confidence to wear, because they all but guarantee you will find yourself at the center of attention wherever you go. If you saw her on the street, you’d assume she was going to some fabulous party, one that maybe even had a secret password to get into or was entered into by a hidden door down a forlorn alleyway. You might even be tempted to follow her there, just in case she disappeared like magic into thin air.

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