The eighth look that appeared on Marni’s S/S 2013 runway symbolised all that is great about Italy’s favourite eccentric brand. This wasn’t an outlandish printed piece as you might expect from the label that drove us all dotty with their H&M range, but rather a simple jaguar green leather top, cut with the front hem a couple of inches longer than the back, worn with an A-line pale pink leather skirt with an added frill at the hip. Does Consuelo Castiglioni care about the old mantra that ‘pink and green should never been seen’? Does she heck. And there in lies the brilliance of Marni. This look was both perfectly true to Castiglioni’s intrinsic identity as a designer – kooky, clean, and centred on form and cut - but also bang on the zeitgeist (and by that I mean appropriately Celine-like to be top of the covet list).
The rest of the collection – an exploration in volume - followed a similar, if ever so slightly less stunning, path. Castiglioni enjoys making her clothes difficult to wear – I like to think that it’s her way of ensuring real commitment from her clientele – and this season was no different. Looks sat away from the body in trapeze-like shapes, forming triangular angles that redefined rather than accentuated womanly curves. Having said that these clothes were by no means sexless. Sensuality, ease and spontaneity came from pleats and peplums, which were cleverly crafted to appear like fabric had been folded rather than cut into place. Print - for S/S a hypnotic check – gave the looks an aloof yet optimistic appeal, the kind that the cerebral Marni woman prefers; you’d imagine that Castiglioni would rather throw in the towel than create clothes that elicit catcalls.
The vision and dynamism of last year’s tight S/S offering was always going to be hard to follow, and whilst as a whole this collection was not quite so dazzling, the forms and figures Castiglioni was exploring prove that she still has her finger firmly on the pulse of today. Marni is never going to appeal to every woman – you have to be a certain kind of oddball to buy into those awkward forms and witty accessories – but given the headway made by aesthetic allies Philo and Sander in their quests to unpick notions of femininity and beauty, you can’t help but feel that this is the perfect time for the brand to win over a few more recruits.