Marni Spring 2013 Ready-to-Wear Collection

by Alexander Patino

Many labels have their givens. You go to Burberry, you get trench coats. Go to Givenchy, religion is somehow in the picture. Make your way over to Prada and you’ll see girls in socks. This is just how things are. Well, Marni’s Consuelo Castiglioni decided that this was the season to turn that cushiony notion right on its head. Marni is a label brimming with supposed givens. Marni means color, print, fabulous jewelry – it means leather and fur. Turns out, not so much. Well, at least not this season, anyway.

Granted, there were prints and there was jewelry to speak of, to greatly admire even, but given that Resort season saw Castiglioni fastening her luxe Italian pomp with some wholesome American kitsch, this must count as one of the most obvious about-face of the season. She opened in staple form, a checkered 3D print created by a cross-hatching of nylon jacquard tape and cotton ribbon. But it wasn’t too long before the procession became shaped by a succession of monochromatic looks, a minimal Burgundy leather coat here, a black painter’s shirt with matching flared shorts, an all-white day dress. It was clear that shape was the prime objective here. When working on blank slates, it’s harder to obscure the mistakes, hide the puckers, deny the faults. So this was a big risk in a big way for Castiglioni. To forsake, for a large part of the show, the house’s bread and butter, just to see if you have the chops. Well, she has the chops.

But there was an opportunity cost to take into account. All in all, it didn’t feel very youthful. Even the couture pursuit, with those Celine-like basques and flared, but controlled Cristobal Balenciaga-esque flounces, felt more like art, then bonafide wearable clothes. That’s not to include that raven tinsel black coat on Kati Nescher. Young, old, pretty, ugly – that coat’s for everybody. As long as you’re rich.