A surprise in fashion is always nice - it's also incredibly rare, in these days of back-to-back shows, 'sneak' previews and live backstage streaming spoiling that previously sacrosanct shock of the new when the first looks hit the catwalk. Maybe that's why Consuelo Castiglioni's latest Autumn/Winter collection for Marni felt quite so satisfying - because it managed to surprise us.
The Marni look is one we all have down pat: clunky shoes, crazy print frocks, a madcap styling trick or six. Basic Little Edie meets Milano jet-set in an artist commune in Tuscany. Today however, Castiglioni added a new element to that mix. Glamour. The openers, all bottle-green and ivory silk spiralled with geometric pattern, conformed to the usual Marni Aesthetic aesthetic, with a graphicism to the prints that conjured up Art Deco and sixties bathroom tiles in equal measure. Quickly, however, Castiglioni tapped into her more sensuous side, with glossy furs belted over tight suits and lurex wrapped into slinky knee-length dresses with a hint of the twenties about them.
Slinky, of course, is a relative term - these were hardly thigh-gripping body-con, but unlike many Marni garments they did give an external hint of the female form underneath, narrow belts pulling in the waist and skirts falling just below the knee. Maybe its the mood of the time - after all, they're contrasting against a season of drop-waist tunics, cocooning coats and trapeze dresses rather than Milan's usual girdle-tight tailoring. But the glamour here seemed to be intentional, too, models sporting big sunglasses, even bigger earrings, and peekaboo hair that looked part Veronica Lake, part post-coital deshabille.
Later, that glamour was expressed through texture, a usual Marni game but seldom played so effectively. Rather than odd-bod, these textures looked luxurious, beading scattered over dresses and coats, sequins glinting on skirts, thick fur coats or firm leather jackets tossed over every other look. Marni is first and foremost a fur house - a fact that often gets lost. Today, the furs were the best part, teddy-bear soft in panels on those leathers, clipped into tessellated polygons, bi-coloured in a mid-calf belted coat or worked into huge cuffs on gloves. Those were Marni's crazy styling trick of the season - part Marlene Dietrich, part welding gauntlet. Blame the cold Milanese morning, but everyone left the venue coveting a pair. Surprise surprise.