#SuzyMFW: Marni’s Cacophony and Charm; Vionnet’s Japanese Journey


“I decided to call the collection ‘Treasure Hunt’,” said Francesco Risso, Marni’s Creative Director.

“It’s like a bizarre cocktail of objects has rained on her,” he explained, describing next season’s Marni woman, “but she’s almost like an archaeologist scavenging in a trunk. And the objects she finds bring stories, light, movement, movies…”

“You have to imagine this woman,” continued the unstoppable designer. “The treasure hunt is like a game for adults, but the treasure is seductive and the hunt is captivating. So she dissects them, she adapts them to herself. She inspects them and looks through a wide angle to magnify the pieces. And through that, she discovers the construction; she discovers beauty. And beauty is almost a spell between cacophony and charm.”

Phew! Big words from a designer who revealed his enthusiasm to capture the spirit of Marni in his second outing. Less chaotic, but equally compelling and colourful, the show had a mad glamour. And that is not even to mention the Alice in Wonderland garden of flowers spilling over the entrance to Marni’s industrial headquarters.

Consuelo Castiglioni, who founded Marni in 1994 and remained at the helm for 22 years, is a tough act to follow. So is the dissecting of garments and putting them back together in an unfinished way. That concept has been around in edgy fashion for a quarter of a century, originally set explored by Martin Margiela in the early 1990s.

But in his sophomore collection, Marni’s new designer at least proved his energy and knowledge of fashion history, using patterns from the past that were not easily definable. The show started with corsets printed in flowers and checks, the lower part flaring out to join a floral skirt with a raw hemline. It looked like a piece of vintage fabric made into something else – hardly an original fashion thought.

Yet the game of making the old new – and vice versa – had a sweet charm, especially as the designer is a fine colourist, mixing an icy pink and warm green satin or playing with Scottish checks. Plaids and roses became another theme. The show embraced both arts and crafts, creating quirky but just about wearable clothes.


The historic house of Vionnet has been on fashion life support since Goga Ashkenazi bought the company in 2012.

Backstage, Goga, the brand’s Creative and Business Director, waxed lyrical about the hand workers she had found to bring Vionnet’s signature Greco-Roman feel back to life, with Japan an important inspiration for next spring and summer.

“Kyudo and Yabusame are the inspiration; ‘The Way of the Warrior’ and what it stands for – humility,” Goga said. “There is the circle, the square, the symbolism behind them – it’s all in the collection.”

The exceptional workmanship, including what Goga called “spaghetti” to define silk strings woven into a slender dress, were often striking for their apparent simplicity, although they had taken hours or days to create.

Other dresses, made in simple cotton poplin, seemed fresh, summery and occasionally quirky when scribbles were used as pattern.

As Goga takes her stand against the big brands and follows her own belief in beauty touched by human hands, there remains a problem. No longer a couture house, yet far from speedy ready-to-wear, its appeal lies somewhere in between.

A limpid elegance was at its best as long draped, pleated or floaty dresses. For that off-beat simplicity, using a Japanese aesthetic was a smart move. Yet after five years at the helm, Vionnet as ready-to-wear fashion remains alone, if not aloof – a symbol of elegance from another world and difficult to embrace for 2018.