What is it about tops for men that close at the back? They suggest a helplessness so deeply transgressive that it's a wonder more designers don't tap into their power. Consuelo Castiglioni offered a tunic top in her latest collection that closed with a zip all the way up the spine. "Would you zip me up?"a line of pre-party domesticity in a thousand Hollywood movies. Except, of course, it's always the woman doing the asking.
Castiglioni is scarcely a sexual politician of Miuccia Prada's ilk, but her new Marni collection nevertheless posed a question or two about the contemporary male. Restraint bordering on restriction was a subtext. Aside from that back-zipping item, the collection was defined by a kind of capelet/shrug. When this fragment of a turtleneck reined in a suit jacket, it had a kind of armorial flair. It also embodied the collection's short-over-long proportion, as in jacket sleeves cropped over much longer shirt sleeves, or a bifurcated navy sweater. There was an intrinsically goofy boyishness to such a look; the glasses with their heavy resin frames helped. But what brought one up short was the plangent tones of Neil Young's "Hey Hey, My My" on the soundtrack. Did this most elegiac of songs offer a clue as to what Castiglioni was trying to say about that contemporary male? And the fact that the furs, a Marni signature, were weasel (surely a fashion first) was simply more grist for the mill.