Flowers spilling out of patterned bags, pots of herbs in profusion, bowls filled with grapes, layers of heather — and all this under the arches or piled behind the pillars of Milan’s Rotonda della Besana.
“This is our voice, we wanted our anniversary to be something that is Marni,” said designer Consuelo Castiglioni, referring to this beautiful, botanical and utterly original way of celebrating a brand.
The show, held before the Marni flower market and its lush celebration of nature opened, was cheered, and not just because it was the label’s 20-year anniversary. It was a fine show where the colours alone, changing from dry earth to vivid florals, were artistic.
Marni started life as a fur house, then developed a sweet bird-song of a voice amid the loud shout of Milanese designers.
By a miracle — and thanks to Consuelo’s free spirit — Marni has retained its whimsical artiness, always with a respectful attitude to women and their bodies.
Although now part of Renzo Rosso’s ‘Only the Brave ‘ empire, the brand retains a quirky independence.
The show kept a careful balance of colour — neutral to bright — as beiges were challenged by lines of charcoal and then by geometric blocks of shrimp pink, olive green and peacock blue.
Consuelo’s love of nature came through in lacquered flower patterns or as a bed of blooms on a coat, where chiffon was embroidered like a ploughed field painted on canvas.
The designer has a deep feeling for nature, but not necessarily a romantic one. The strictly cut clothes — some, marvels of geometry set off by graphic jewellery — are never frilly or girly.
Talking to Consuelo later at the Marni flower market — where the public could spend a sunny Sunday afternoon, and where a percentage of proceeds will go to a children’s charity — I thought what a fitting way this was to close the Milan season.
Marni is a fine example of Italy’s craftsmanship, sense of natural beauty and clothes with soul.
If you are quick, the flower market is open to the public until 8pm tonight.