The Marni aesthetic is certainly an acquired taste - some seasons it doesn't quite gel, too folksy, too clunky, too clumsy. Those are all part of its innate charm for its very many followers, but for some it all gets too much. That said, there are some seasons where the madcap Marni mix works its charm on all, and S/S 2011 was undoubtedly one of those moments.
The ideas themselves were classic Marni, part of the look Conseulo Castiglione has been pushing for the past decade or more, but they came together in a way that felt both singular, and also relevant to next season's emerging looks. There was a sporty vibe, with inserts of athletic mesh and go-faster stripes whizzing around the seams. Chunky black plastic zips snaked their way down the back of dresses and tunic tops, like fastenings found in wetsuits - that wasn't such a left-of-field comparison, as there was a sleek sportiness to these clothes that reminded one of the all-in-ones worn for outdoor pursuits where garments are a vital tool to hone one's body into a neatly streamlined chassis. Hence you could tick off not only surfing attire, but ski-suits and scuba-diving gear as inspiration behind the sharp colour-blocked looks, not least in the leather hats - part swimming-cap, part aviator helmet - that topped each and every exit.
Those chimed with the pared-down silhouettes we've seen over the past few seasons, but Marni being Marni meant this wasn't an exercise in aseptic minimalism. Ruffles enlivened some of those sporty suits, flounced across the knee and hip like a nineteenth-century bathing suit (hey, in their day they were hi-tech high-performance sport's gear too), while garments were either brightly colour-blocked or vibrantly patterned in swirling psychedelic florals or intricate geometric designs. They reminded one of the much-beloved upholstery of London underground carriages - and come to think of it there was more than a touch of seventies suites to the curvilinear florals in hot pink, yellow and cobalt. Maybe Castiglione wanted to reinvent our interpretation of 'Sofa Surfer' for the new millennium? Garish though they sound, those graphics looked pretty fantastic chopped into Marni's neat jersey shapes or billowing silks. The finale reinterpreted those shapes and shades in fishscale paillettes - kitsch evening glamour, and a much-needed touch of Marni humour.