Marni in New York is not quite the Marni we’re used to. And there is that strange gaping aperture
Marni has been, for quite a while, dancing in the realm of the weird. The brand isn’t, of course, known for being typical, but looking downright freaky (probably funky to some) is rather the domain of Francesco Risso. This season, he’s moved the RTW show to New York and shown it below the Manhattan Bridge on the Brooklyn end, in the Dumbo neighbourhood. The under location aside, the clothes look positively under too—as in underclothes, not that that’s extraordinary. Perhaps it is not surprising that Mr Risso decides to show the spring/summer 2023 collection in New York, home of the Black Tape Project, in which designer Joel Alvarez uses not cloth to dress the body, but strips of adhesive. Sure, Mr Risso employs a more traditional way of dress making, but the scantiness is hard not to notice.
Or, the curious circular opening on the chests of knitted (mostly cropped) tops, repeated 19 times, out of the 58 looks that were shown. That’s one-third of the collection. Is that sufficient to constitute an emphasis? Or, a motif? This may sound crude (or, to eager censors, indecent), but they look vulval to us. It doesn’t help that most of the openings are framed by a ring of red, also hinting at something that could be labial. Mr Risso has not explained what he is suggesting, or what the wide, ringed aperture could mean that is not sexual. Could it be a mouth, sliced squid, the rim of a basketball hoop? Or, the fearful eye of Sauron?
There are other holes too. A squarish one appears on the front of a tank top. Others look like they are the result of unconventional tweaks in knitting machines. Filled holes are there too. Full moons (in some cultures, they are fertility symbols!) sit on the torso, with the upper portion stretched across the bust. When the models walk, the rounds look like pursed, moving lips. The sexiness is further augmented by the slinkiness of the clothes. Short and long shifts have no sides from the waist up, exposing more than side boobs. A long skirt, slit in the middle to up there, has a bifurcated hemline that becomes gloves/sleeves that reach the biceps. Even Mariacarla Boscono, in a red, leather, similarly slit dress, looks ravished, rather than ravishing.
The theme of the show, we would later learn, is “sunset” (under a bridge?). The dusty colours appear to suggest those that do not scintillate at sundown. They seem to mimick the hues of riverside festival seasons in Varanasi: earthy and primal. Mr Risso told the press that “a sunset is someone else’s sunrise… a physical phenomenon that sets fire to the sky”. It sounds like he was not describing riparian spiritual festivities, but some rave, when the goers eventually emerge into daylight after a night of expressive physical indulgence. A sunrise, conversely, could be someone else’s sunset. These garments are party clothes to better suit bodies that do not wish to be encumbered. Moreover, skimpy goes hand in hand with how Americans speak (or text) these days—for example, outfit, one syllable too many, is now reduced to “fit”. Is it a wonder that, over there, they are just wearing less and less. Francesco Risso certainly gets it.
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