We've seen an inordinate number of collections taking crazed, pill-popping mid-century housewives as their inspiration this season. That's a look Consuelo Castiglione has been working at Marni for almost twenty years, a mash-up of texture, print and everything-but-the-kitchen-sink decoration ladled across a simple above-the-knee silhouette, accessorised with some fruity footwear and endearingly childish accessories. Sometimes Marni doesn't quite hit the right note - this is the fashion dictionary's definition of an acquired taste - but given the psychedelic hues and mumsy shapes we've been seeing since New York, maybe our eyes were better attuned for what Castiglione had to offer for spring 2012.
That said, this felt like the tightest, cleanest offering Marni has shown for some time. The sixties trapeze shapes over semi-sheer organza underskirts that opened the show weren't kooky, they were chic. Maybe those organza underskirts were meant to be a bit of Marni craziness, a good six inches of petticoat showing under a neat pastel day-dress? What they actually did was give a wearability to the brevity of Castiglione's powdery pastel tunics. They peeked out again under psychedelic caravan-curtain patterned mini-dresses, occasionally marching out alone as if that xanax-sated hausfrau had forgotten to put her skirt on at all, clutching a pharmaceutical-bright two-tone clutch in the chalky contrasting hues of a pill capsule.
The shapes of the clothes were simple, to put the pattern centre-stage - interlocking Bauhaus-inspired geometrics, chevrons and lines, grids breaking into three-dimensional flowers. That all looked a bit like wallpaper too - Marni is a house never afraid to romp through the home furnishing department for fabric inspiration. This time, the intricacy of beading, sequins and applique leant a touch of the precious to those homespun textures. If in doubt of the shift from homespun to hauteur at Marni for spring, check the shoes. Castiglione trimmed off the heft and most of the height, reworking a mannish wing-tip into a flat-front, round-toe block-heeled court shoe. Ignore the wrinkly support-stockings underneath, and that shoe's one of the most sophisticated and desirable we've seen all season.