A wistful look back at Marni’s unique place in fashion — and a curious peek ahead to how the label will evolve under new designer Francesco Risso
I knew it had to happen – but my heart was heavy when the letter came in via email from Consuelo Castiglioni this morning.
Here it is.
I wanted to inform you that I decided to pursue a new path for the future.
It has been a very difficult decision after so many years of hard working.
I hope to see you soon in person.
I have so many memories from what I remember calling the “sweet bird song” of the early shows to the magnificent green “Marni flower market” to celebrate Consuelo’s twenty years in fashion in 2014.
So another individual voice is silenced in this era when “off with his/her head” seems to be the knee-jerk reaction to a challenging fashion climate. Although why houses — Lanvin, for example — think that a new designer is the easy answer, I cannot understand.
A new designer has already been chosen for Marni, Italian-born Francesco Risso, 33, fresh from the Prada womenswear design team. We are to expect the first of his offerings in February with the Marni Autumn/Winter 2017 collection.
Francesco Risso, the newly appointed Marni Creative Director
Here is the review I wrote about Marni during the Milan shows in September, with the prediction of the situation to come: “Rumours are swirling around Milan that Consuelo Castiglioni, the designer and former owner of Marni, is re-evaluating her situation now that Renzo Rosso’s company Only The Brave now owns 100% of the brand.
Who isn't attacked by rumours these fashion days? However, when I asked Consuelo outright, her reply was ambivalent: shrugged shoulders and silence. Let's hope she keeps her unique voice singing out for a quirky elegance and for architectural clothes that are kind and gentle to a female body.
Consuelo Castiglioni backstage in September 2016 – her final show as Marni's Creative Director
After some dramatically cut, not to say artsy, creations in recent collections, this was a more straightforward progress from A to Z, or, to be more precise: from white, in its many monochrome shades, through to black — with some colour and a little pattern in between. Yellow flowing into green and even scarlet made bright statements between the neutral shades of white and black.
Marni S/S 2017 finale and the final collection for designer Consuelo Castiglioni. Do the panniers indicate baggage?
Yet with all this sense and sensibility, what caught the attention were roomy, semi-detached pockets that swung in pairs, one for each hip. This focus seemed architectural — a dramatic gesture rather than for real use. Yet the effect of this indoor-outerwear was striking and at times, as in a slim coat, totally wearable.
Marni S/S 2017, Consuelo Castiglioni's final collection
The art of the collection seemed to be in its movement, as pleats opened and closed to a natural rhythm, while shapes were aligned by flaps and cords. This designer has a unique way of looking at fashion, from her spidery flower drawings to her mismatched earrings. Her wistful, private vision of womanhood is special to Italian fashion — and long may it continue.”
Marni S/S 2017
Renzo Rosso, the president of parent company of fashion brands OTB, also owns Diesel, Maison Margiela, Dsquared2 and Viktor & Rolf, amongst others, and has owned Marni since 2013. On Consuelo Castiglioni leaving after only four years of working together, he says: “The world pays tribute to the original vision of Consuelo, and to a unique brand which we are proud to have in our group. I wish her the very best. I am happy to welcome Francesco, whose talent will contribute to writing a new chapter in the history of this house which is Italian at heart and global in spirit. I am confident that the creative team and the management of Marni, which have contributed to this success, will continue to make this brand reach exciting new goals.”
A look from Marni's current A/W 2016 collection
Castiglioni’s husband Gianni’s family fur business was the main inspiration for Marni which started in 1994. The label is best known for treating fur like a normal fabric and for bold and daring statements. In her official and emotional announcement today one wonders what Castiglioni has planned next; she says: “These were hectic and exciting years which absorbed all of my energies to create a project I am proud of. Thanks also to the constant support of my family who allowed me to stay true to my idea, I built a brand with a precise and recognisable identity. The time has now come to dedicate myself to my private life. I thank all the people who believed in this project and who, with loyal dedication, have helped me along this fantastic journey.”
Now all eyes are on Genova-born Francesco Risso. There is little known on this designer; we know he studied at a number of acclaimed fashion schools including Florence’s Polimoda, New York’s Fashion Institute of Technology, and Central Saint Martins in London which led him to work in the Italian design rooms of Anna Molinari, Alessandro Dell'Acqua and cashmere brand Malo. However, much as Risso appears qualified for the job – only time will tell if he can “step into Marni shoes”.
Marni shoes S/S 2017