That Antonio Marras has a poetic instinct for the romance and drama of fashion scarcely bears repeating one more time. Every collection is an obsessively detailed production, from the invitations (worthy of an exhibition at some future point) to the no-expense-spared mise-en-scène and, of course, the clothes, which are usually in the service of defining the Marras muse(s) of the season. This time, for instance, it was the women of the Bloomsbury Group, the gaggle of artists and writers who dominated cultural life in the UK in the early twentieth century. Marras helped his friend Lea Vergine curate Another Time, an exhibition about Bloomsbury, and he came away obsessed with translating its essence into fashion for a modern woman.
It was a subject made for him. The Bloomsbury lot were freethinkers, obsessed with aesthetics, careless with convention. Watching the way Marras played with print, collaged fabrics and textures, mixed genders, he was poet, painter, and philosopher today. The women (and men) of Bloomsbury would have eaten him on toast. And his new muses liked their gardens, so Marras' floral tributes would have helped to win their hearts. His flowers made some of the most appealing pieces in the show: a print of pinks collaged with painterly graphics, a blooming angora, intarsia-ed tulips, tapestry roses.
Marras' models walked through tableaux vivants of performers doing Bloomsbury-ish things—reading, reading in bed, painting, posing, making music. That established a clear historical context. In the past, overt historicism has been both blessing and curse for this designer, but here it served to emphasize a newish mood of modernity in Marras' clothes. If they were complex in conception, they were relatively simple in shape. He liked a big slouchy silhouette with rounded shoulders and a zip. He also liked the slouch of a mannish suit, paired with platform trainers. Given the inspiration (and Marras' own inclinations), some element of another time was inevitable. But when a vintage mood insinuated itself, it had the flair of the glamorous women in the seventies who alchemized their style from old clothes. Or maybe that impression was induced by Marras going for the glam gold.