Walking into Marni's show this morning, one change was glaringly obvious. The entire space was wrapped in a backdrop, a woodland-in-winter scene whose severe beauty immediately established a mood. "It's a really new atmosphere for us," agreed Consuelo Castiglioni. "Austere but romantic."
The austerity already insinuated itself with last season's monochrome, but here it was even more stripped to the bone. Masculine flannels and tweeds were cut into strict, angular silhouettes, diagonally zipped, and paired with riding boots. But Castiglioni softened the hard edge with feminizing details—bustiers, corseting, pleating slashed to reveal organza inserts. And the clothes caught fur like a contagion. It spread from lavish stoles to gloves, bags, and boots, from a glossy band of beaver on a skirt hem to a capelet of the same on a maîtresse-stern coat-dress of charcoal flannel. The sobriety of a flapper-y gray tweed shift was entirely compromised by a huge yeti ruff. Alpaca was feathered into coats of an equally shaggy Himalaya-ness.
The tension between the precise cut of the cloth and the tactile depth of the fur was clearly the crux of that "new atmosphere" Castiglioni referenced. If it was severe to the eye, it was soft to the touch. Maybe that was where the romance came in, as an almost surprising vulnerability. Tom Pecheux's red lip and Paul Hanlon's androgynous hair suggested as much. Even without the fur, the hard lines were softened. A boxy jacket and skirt, as plain as anything Castiglioni has ever designed, were shown in brushed mohair. And a stark black leather jacket was bonded to lush velvet. If that doesn't define the designer's hybrid of the romantic and the austere, it's hard to imagine what else could.