FALL 2022

At Marni, Storybook Sets and the Surreal Come to Life


Marni began its fall 2022 show with the sound of clomping heels and a mix of jumbled statements and questions posed to its audience: “Let’s mend this moment together,” “Where do we go after?,” and “Make it last forever,” sounded over the speakers. What did it all mean?

That question wasn’t necessarily answered once models began walking onto the runway. The entire presentation took place in the dark inside a warehouse-like space that had been completely transformed into what felt like equal parts enchanted forest, evil grotto, and fantasy rave. Models emerged from a grassy clearing and stepped onto a raised rocky platform, then wove throughout the maze-like audience—all of whom stood and watched. Each model was followed by a person wearing a balaclava, holding a flashlight to illuminate the way for them. It felt eerie, surreal, and a little bit profound all at once.

Since Francesco Risso was named creative director at Marni in 2016, he has maintained the unique, artful vision of its founder Consuelo Castiglioni, but also mixed in his own perspective of weird and wonderful. For spring 2022, the brand introduced an element of performance into its runway show that felt truly new, by dressing the audience in upcycled cotton pieces hand-painted with colorful stripes. This season, though, Rissi pushed the concept of what a live fashion show should be even more, by integrating the audience into an immersive scene. They were so close, in fact, that the models slowed to nearly a halt for the crowd to move back and make space near the runway.

Courtesy of Marni
Courtesy of Marni

The clothing itself seemed to represent a limbo state of growth and decay, along with the idea of forever’s impermanence. Fabrics were distressed and embellished at once; jeans came in heavy patchwork, and ripped fabrications were covered in fringe and crystalline details. The inner workings of the clothes’ structures always showed—unraveled edges, studded Wellingtons and knit sleeves trailing out of suit jackets—all further contributing to the idea of lost time or a state of transition. Cable knit cardigans full of holes followed tie-dye ruched dresses styled over t-shirts. Materials appeared entangled; the balaclavas looked cobbled together with different colors and various styles of knits. Sarong skirts with raw edges were paired with open-front tops dripping with fringe.

Courtesy of Marni

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Courtesy of Marni

Courtesy of Marni

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The styling was the most intriguing and powerful part of this show’s storytelling. Many of the looks were paired with hats—or rather, headpieces that had been stretched to their limits, constructed with the hands of a child who’d been tasked with interpreting high fashion. Other pieces looked like they were fished out of a lake, with shirts, jackets, and errant objects stuck on. These looks also spoke volumes about contrast; hole-y knits went with bare skin, and oversized checked suits were paired with hats that resembled bunny ears but looked like they were constructed out of leather jackets slung together. It all represented the magic of this new era of Marni.

The show ended with models stepping out of the venue’s darkness and into the sunlight. Here, they stood atop a long dinner table blanketed in a tie-dye cloth and covered with fruit, dried flowers, luscious cakes, silverware, and pies. Risso himself blended in with the rest, and they feasted.